Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My guy is 28. I am 30. We started dating four years ago. He has commitment issues. He refused to refer to me as his girlfriend for two years. I finally got him to call me his girlfriend after I broke down after his graduation ceremony, where he kept referring to me as his “friend.” After that, we finally were an “official” couple and shortly thereafter, he told me he loved me. We are living together now. Next month he will be moving out of state to take a one-year job. He has another job lined up back home after his term is up, so he has to move back here a year from now. I will stay locally. We plan on seeing each other during this year because his job is just a 90-minute plane ride away. About midway through his term, we will have been together for five years and, honestly, I am getting frustrated with the slow progress of this relationship. He wants us to move in together again when he gets back, but I proposed (no pun intended) that we live separately until we are engaged. Ideally, I want him to propose before his term is up so we can resume living together immediately when he gets back, but he said he won’t be ready by then. He partly uses the uncertainty of his professional career as a reason for why he is not ready. He says I am being unreasonable for not living with him again until he proposes, but I don’t think that’s too unreasonable given what we’ve been through (he cheated on me once when we were exclusive and twice before that). I want a proposal as a sign that he is taking this relationship as seriously as I am. I’ve told him that I don’t want an expensive ring or wedding. I’ve invested four years in this guy, and he says he wants a family with me, but I don’t know if I have the patience to wait for him any longer. If he moves back and has not proposed yet, I can’t see myself staying with him for any longer than a year. Is that unreasonable? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Ringless in the USA

DEAR RINGLESS: Your boyfriend’s commitment issues seem to have awakened in you a need to control him, even to the extent of scheduling when he should propose to you. Look how hard you are working! You had to have a meltdown before he would even describe you as his girlfriend. Multiply that meltdown by 100, and that’s how hard you will have to work to manipulate him into a marriage (and then keep him in it).

If you want a marriage proposal, perhaps you should be brave enough to pop the question yourself, right now, rather than try to force him into doing it.

If you proposed to him, his likely response would be: “Ummmm, can I get back to you on that?”

This response would tell you everything that you need to know.

Your guy is not ready or willing to make a marriage plan with you. If he wanted to marry you, he would cave to your pressure. If he really wanted to marry you, you two would be engaged/hitched by now.

He is telling you he doesn’t want to be married to you, but he doesn’t seem to want to break up with you, either.

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Use this separation period to explore your options.

DEAR AMY: I have a couple of childhood friends who will make statements and observations that are extremely racist. They will often use racial slurs and act particularly rude to people of those races. I put up with it until they told me that they hated my current boyfriend because he’s Korean. I’m fed up with their actions, but I’ve known them for so long. What should I do?

Unsure

DEAR UNSURE: You put up with these racist people when their statements were geared toward others, but now that it’s personal, you seem awakened to the impact of their words.

First you should tell these friends that their racism is unacceptable, and then you should find other friends.

DEAR AMY: “Hospitable to a Point” wrote about a friend she hosts for dinner once a week, but the friend never contributes or reciprocates. I liked your idea to give the friend a specific job to do during these meals. Resentment builds up when people feel like things are out of balance.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Also — simply hosting this person less frequently would probably help.