Dear D: Am I expecting too much from him?

Dear Danielle,

Half the time my boyfriend of one year makes me feel so loved and half the time I feel like I’m not valued. I’m confused. Am I just over-thinking things, or is he just not that into me? He recently bought me an engagement ring. He took me shopping several times and wanted me to pick out something I would love. It made me feel special! In the end I felt pressured to choose a ring from a certain retailer because he had a credit card with them. I was okay with that but was having a hard time finding one I really loved. He decided to not buy me a real diamond. He bought it with a CZ promising to put a real diamond in it one day. I said I could live with that. But what I’m having the most trouble with are these two things:

1. I went to pick up the ring … He didn’t go get it. I was hoping he would at least take me somewhere, make a somewhat romantic gesture and formally propose and put the ring on my finger. But nothing. We both got off work and he said “well put it on!!!” with enthusiasm, of course, but that was it.

2. Unfortunately, he told me all about how he proposed to his last wife. A limo surprised her and picked her up for a trip to Mexico. Then on the way to the airport he pulls out a $20k “real” diamond ring and asked her to marry him.

Of course there is a lot more to this story. A year’s worth of stuff that all adds up to “I’m confused.” We are 41 and 52 years old. I have a 12 year old son and he has 4 children (8. 26, 28 & 30). We both have been married three times before. He has a very good job and is very professional.

In his defense he doesn’t make as much money now as he did when he met his last wife. He is not romantic with me. He is not creative or a deep thinker. Somewhat shy at times. I do think he loves me. I just don’t get this? Am I just a bad person? Do I want some sort of fairy tale that does not exist? Am I being materialistic? Isn’t it enough that he wants to marry me?

Your thoughts, S.

Dear S,

No, it’s not enough that he wants to marry you, and no you are not a bad person. Who really cares if he wants to marry you if you don’t feel cherished and appreciated? Our greatest desire as human beings is to be recognized, seen and celebrated for what is seen. The world is often caught up in its own distractions and most of us understand that, although it would be nice, we cannot expect every person we come in contact with to offer us this level of appreciation and recognition. However, we do and must expect it from our nearest and dearest. If not, why are they in our lives?

Everything wonderful that happens between men and women happens because someone had the courage to be vulnerable first. The most successful relationships–personal or otherwise– are the ones rooted in pure vulnerability and honesty.Twitter_logo_blue  It is through vulnerability that we have the precious opportunity to really connect. True connection is what gives our life purpose + meaning—it allows us to experience love and belonging. It is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others, and in the absence of connection there is suffering. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.

This is how significant connection is.

It is not a superficial, luxurious human want.

It is a human need. The psychological equivalent to oxygen.

It seems you are missing the experience of connection and celebration. I can understand his financial position is not as it once was, and self admittedly, you can too. In light of this you were understanding enough to accept a ring that is far from your first choice. This we can compromise around. What is not up for negotiation is regard, respect and appreciation and this seems to be lacking between you both. Does that seem correct?

I get the sense that if it had to be the CZ from that particular store but he had created a more precious, memorable engagement experience for you that much of this would not be so unnerving. And a memorable experience doesn’t necessarily mean Paris and limos and $20 thousand dollar diamonds. Although what gal doesn’t love a little fuss?! If he had picked up the diamond himself, crafted a few special words and took you out to a lovely night on the town or simply to your favorite park bench I imagine you would have felt much more cherished.

It is of course impossible to understand your whole relationship and its inner workings from one short letter, but it appears that “lack of appreciation” is a theme. What men and women need most from one another, above and beyond all else, is appreciation.Twitter_logo_blue When this is lacking we can feel “skipped over,” doubtful and invalid. Your confusion and frustration is understandable.

I would suggest finding a time when he is emotionally available and the home environment is quiet to speak to him about your general disappointment in how the engagement was handled. Explain to him that it is not the size or value of the ring that upsets you but rather the seemingly lack of appreciation and celebration of you as his future wife.

Try not to raise your voice or attack, shame or blame as these qualities tend to shut people down. Rather, express how you care for him deeply, but you are struggling because you often don’t feel deeply cared for in return and the engagement is an example of the lack of enthusiasm and celebration.

You want to feel special. We all do. This is normal and who better to receive it from then your life partner! Of all the people in the world this is someone who you should have the luxury of actually expecting it from!

Have a few concrete suggestions for him regarding how he can on a daily and weekly basis make you feel more valued and appreciated. It can be simple things such as a good morning text or call Monday-Friday or a big hug before bed or when he gets home from work, maybe it is bringing you coffee in bed on the weekends or planning a date every other Friday night.

And as far as the engagement goes I think you can suggest a “do-over!”

I hope this is helpful!

xo D

I am the proud author of Soul Sessions: A 5 Week Guide to Crafting Greater Joy + Making Big Things Happen. Need one on one inspiration?  Hire me.  You won’t regret it.


  1. I cannot judge much from one letter but my view is –

    1. She has expectations of how things should go – Is she projecting some things from the her previous relationships on him? Does she want extra romantic because her previous relationships were lacking in that aspect and she promised herself not to live without that? She should also examine her expectations and if they are realistic given her and the guy’s situations.

    2. She is not communicating her expectations with him – I agree with your advice on talking with him and what she expected. She cannot jump to conclusions until she hears him out. Give the guy a break – he has an alimony and 4 kids. Imagine how financially stretched he might be, unless he is ultra rich. However, if the guy does not change his behaviour, well, it is clear he does not really care and she should leave because her needs are not met, no matter what they are.

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