*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Living together is one step closer to getting engaged and starting to plan your wedding. But what do you do when the proposal constantly gets delayed, and there's no indication that your partner is considering and choosing a ring, but rather a comfortable way of life with nothing different from one day to the next?
And how would you feel when you decided to wait it out and let your partner propose in their own good time, and they suddenly tell you they want you to move out right after they gave you a ring? Is that like canceling your wedding, or can you still plan the ceremony together while living in two different places?
My friend Dan has been dating his girlfriend Nancy for eight years. They first met in high school and only went out together after being friends for a few months.
"We used to study together, and we had some shared projects too. We got along great, and he helped me revise and stay on top of every subject. We went hiking during spring break, and that's when we realized we wanted to be more than friends," Nancy said.
As soon as they got back, they began dating, and both their families were ok with their relationship as long as they stayed focused on their studies and didn't intend to get married or start a family before getting a job.
"Mom and dad told me clearly I needed to be responsible about it and not have kids before I could support a family. And they were right too. I wanted to be able to afford a home and look after Nancy and our kids when we eventually decided to get married. And that wouldn't happen while we were both teens," Dan recalls.
They kept going out for the next two years until they both graduated from high school. Once they were ready to move away for college, Dan asked Nancy to rent an apartment together and live in the same place.
"It made sense to live together since we'd been spending all our time doing the same things, and we were always in the same place. So, I said yes. We were both going to work part-time, and our parents promised to help us with expenses if we ever needed extra groceries or couldn't handle all bills," Nancy said.
Things went well as soon as they found an apartment they liked. They didn't have a lot of space but kept it tidy and shared laundry, and did the dishes together. None of them liked cooking that much, so they ordered food, and their parents came to visit on some weekends and prepared some homemade dishes for them.
"I was sure I'd learn to cook when we'd have kids, but it was too soon to start. Dan also said he wouldn't mind cooking when we were parents. We just wanted to enjoy being together for those years without worrying about making dinner, having lunch on time, or who served the dishes on which plate," Nancy said.
Dan and Nancy got used to living together, and they gradually got comfortable while sharing their space. They lived in the same apartment throughout college and looked for a different place after graduation.
"When we both got better-paying full-time jobs, we could afford a bigger place, so we rented another apartment. We still shared chores, and we even tried to do some cooking. I kept thinking about something else too. I wanted to be engaged and looked for indications Dan was on the same page," Nancy said.
Dan didn't say anything about a proposal or a ring for quite some time, but a year after they moved into their new apartment, he asked Nancy to marry him.
She said yes and got excited about the wedding and planning the ceremony. They set their wedding date two years after the proposal.
They also let their families know and had a party to celebrate it.
"His mom and dad are older, and they were happy they would see us get married and be grandparents too. My parents were also excited and offered to help with the planning and choosing the menus, invitations, and the music," Nancy said.
During the next few months, everyone got involved in the wedding planning. Dan, however, had other things on his mind. He didn't get that interested in the preparations and, instead, whenever Nancy headed over to meet her parents or his to talk about the details of the ceremony, he found an excuse and usually stayed away.
"I thought he was tired and just wanted to watch TV or relax. And most of the things we chose were about cakes and colors and other dishes. I didn't mind doing that myself," Nancy said.
Two weeks ago, Dan asked her to come home earlier from work because they had to talk. Nancy got worried, and she came in time to hear what he had to say.
She thought he might want to end their engagement and give up on the wedding. Dan didn't want any of that, but what he asked her to do was just as upsetting.
Dan wanted Nancy to pack her things and leave the apartment. He wanted to live on his own, and he needed his space back.
He added he wouldn't end their relationship. He still wanted to be with Nancy and get married too. They just wouldn't be living in the same place anymore. His idea was to see each other three times every week and get married as they'd planned.
"He wants me to move out after six years so he can live alone and see me three times a week. And he thinks we can go on planning for the wedding like everything is ok. I don't understand any of it. Isn't he used to being with me by now?" Nancy said.
She tried to find out if her fiance was upset with her or if he didn't want to get married at all, but Dan assured her he still loved her and wanted to have a family together. He just felt like he wanted his space.
And he asked to have his own place permanently. They're not going to have just one home after they tie the knot. Nancy isn't sure how to react and whether this is a way to make her leave anyway.
She talked to her mom about what Dan said, and she said she felt Dan might be seeing someone else while Nancy won't be around. Nancy hasn't moved out yet, but Dan told her she has one month to do it.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Dan to make such a demand after living together for so many years? Is it an indication they won't get married at all or that he wants to date someone else?