Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

DEAR AMY: Shortly after meeting my boyfriend five years ago, I moved into his apartment and we are very happy together.

He is a hard-working and caring person, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Getting married has always been very important to me, and I always hoped that moving in together was a step in that direction. However, five years later, he has yet to propose and, though I often bring up the prospect of marrying someday, he never has much to say.

We split all the bills, chores and adopted a cat two years ago, it’s almost as if we are already married! Why the wait, when he knows how I long for it?

As time goes on, I’ve become more distressed about this, and even resentful as I watch my younger girlfriends become engaged after only one or two years of dating. I turned 30 this year, and always imagined myself married with kids by now. I don’t want to pressure my boyfriend, but I can’t help but wonder why he hasn’t proposed. How can I gently nudge him to propose? — Wannabe Fiancee

DEAR WANNABE: I’d say that after five years of wanting marriage, the time for gentle nudges has passed. You bring up the topic of marriage often. Surely he has become skilled at the artful dodge.

It might be time for an ultimatum. In your case, the ultimatum goes like this: We either get married or we break up.

It is counterintuitive to present someone with two such distinctly opposite choices, but you may have reached the illogical, all-or-nothing stage.

You need to realize that if your guy really wanted to marry you, he would have done so by now. You surrendered your power years ago by compromising your own genuine desire for marriage in order to move in with him.

If your ultimatum eventually yields a proposal, you should think long and hard about the reality of marrying someone who had to be pressured into it. (I personally faced a very similar engagement dynamic many years ago, and ultimately it did not go well.)

I’d love to hear from readers, especially men, about their own pressured proposals in order to gain more insight into this tricky dynamic.

DEAR AMY: I am 12 years old, and recently got out of an awful relationship with one of my “friends.”

She would hit me, tell me I’m ugly and useless, and treat me like her servant. I hated her. I had no trouble being assertive with other people, but I never had the guts to tell her she was out of line.

Finally, after an argument over nothing, our teacher got involved, and I told her I didn’t want to be friends anymore.

Now that it’s all over, she isn’t rude to me, and doesn’t tell me what to do. She’s being polite. I’m not being rude, either, but I don’t forgive her, and I know some of it is my fault for not saying anything earlier.

I don’t know how to act around her. I want to go into therapy, but I’m not sure how to tell my mom. I’m worried my mom might just dismiss my wish for therapy and tell me to stay strong. — Wishful

DEAR WISHFUL: From what you say, it sounds as if you, and your school, have handled this situation well. The other girl got the message, and she has stopped bullying you. You are also behaving respectfully toward her.

You should tell your mother about all of this, so that she is aware of what’s going on in your life. I hope she responds with lots of high-fives, hugs and encouragement. You do not need your mother’s permission to see your school’s counselor. I suggest you start with the counselor, telling your story and asking whatever questions you have.

Also, ask your mother to order this book: “The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School: Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More,” written by two former 12-year-old girls, Haley Kilpatrick and Whitney Joiner (2012, Free Press). You and your mom should look at it together.

DEAR AMY: “Exasperated” wanted to intervene in her girlfriend’s abusive relationship. I agree with your take on this. I once intervened as Exasperated wants to do, and my friend basically continued the terrible relationship, and dumped me. — Sorry

DEAR SORRY: It is very hard to stand by and witness someone else’s painful choices, but intervening doesn’t always work.

Contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@tribpub.com Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or like her on Facebook. Dickinson’s memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them” (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.