Dear Level

If Your Partner Says She Doesn’t Want to Get Married, She’s Lying

Just because she’s independent doesn’t mean she doesn’t want that ring

A gif of one hand holding another hand with a ring on it and animated sparkles.
A gif of one hand holding another hand with a ring on it and animated sparkles.

RRemember that Method Man lyric on “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By”? The line where he raps: “You don’t need a ring to be my wife.” Now, think about every other song lyric ever. Has a woman ever said something similar? I’ll wait here while you look — or until we both grow old and ultimately keel over—because good luck with that.

I know what you’re going to say: Me and my partner have been together for a year or so. She’s not tripping. Everything’s good. Or maybe you’ve been together forever, kids and all. And there are no rings or documentation to make it official and legally binding. You don’t need a piece of paper to show your love for your woman — or your children. Y’all are together because you want to be. Periodt.

And she’s fine with it. No, really! She’s not tripping. Her friends may talk crap, but your woman is confident. She told you herself, she doesn’t need a ring to be your wife.

Except here’s the thing: She’s lying to you.

Your girl wants to get married. Whether she’s 26 or 46, she wants to wear a white dress and walk down the aisle on her dad’s arm. Whether she’s never been married or she’s previously divorced, she wants to jump the broom, tie the knot, and say “I do” — maybe all three at the same time. She wants to be validated. She wants your friends and family to witness the love you two share. She wants you standing next to your boys with a thug tear in your eye.

If she says she doesn’t want children, it’s likely she doesn’t. But if she says she doesn’t want you to buy a diamond ring and put it on her finger while down on bended knee, she’s lying, bro.

Unfortunately, there are some parts of the patriarchy that are still deeply ingrained in some women. You have to remember, we grew up with Disney princesses and Prince Charming and June brides and Say Yes To The Dress and 90 Day Fiancé and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and The Real Housewives and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and everything else that makes up the wedding industry pipeline. Even Love Is Blind, Netflix’s most recent trending reality hit, hinges on the endgame of getting hitched.

If you don’t want to mate for life, you don’t have to. But half-ass commitment — combining salaries but skipping the fish-or-steak dinner and three-tier cake — isn’t going to work.

Yes, there are some women who truly do not care about marriage. They will partner up and shack up indefinitely with no formality.

Those women are few and far between, and your woman (most likely) isn’t one of them.

So what’s her problem? Why can’t she just chill out and stop sending you eye daggers at every family wedding?

Science time!

Modern monogamy in mankind has only existed for the last millennium or so. Before that, like most other primates, they were polygamous (and way before that — like 75 million years before — the earliest primates lived in solitude, only meeting up to mate). So, there are many studies that support the idea that we’re still not necessarily meant to mate for life. Science says that if y’all had your way, you’d prefer a harem. We get that. We fully understand.

Your woman wants you to know that if you don’t want to mate for life, you don’t have to. But the half-ass commitment that comes with common-law marriage — combining salaries but skipping the fish-or-steak dinner and three-tier cake — isn’t going to work.

Your woman wants your last name, even if she won’t use it professionally because she’s been in her career with her own brand for two decades.

Your woman wants an actual title for the kids you bring into the relationship — like, say, “stepmom.”

Your woman wants to get her mom and her friends (and the rest of society) to stop asking why you haven’t asked for her hand in marriage.

So why is she lying to you? Simple. Blame the culture for the dichotomy of how she really feels. Many women want to be claimed. They want to show the rest of the world that their Person (that’s you) has chosen her as their Person — with witnesses, receipts, and a big-ass party.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to marry your girlfriend. But here’s a handy quiz.

  1. Have you been dating for longer than a year? [2 points]
  2. Do you live together? [5 points]
  3. Do either of you have children from previous relationships? [4 points]
  4. Do you have children together? [8 points]
  5. Is she above the age of 40? [6 points]
  6. Have you met her family? [4 points]
  7. Have you had a conversation about marriage that ended in an argument? [5 points]
  8. Has she hinted about rings, weddings, and marriage? [5 points]

Let’s get your score.

0–6 points: You know she wants to get married. Either let her move on or make it official.

6–10 points: Time to drop a down payment at Zales.

11–18 points: She probably has a wedding dress hanging in the back of the closet.

18-up: Wow. You really believe why buy the cow when you get the milk for free. She’s probably trapped now, emotionally and/or financially. So, you can probably get away with not marrying her. Congrats?

These are jokes, but true words are spoken in jest. If you love your woman and want her to be happy, send her this story, share your score, and ask her thoughts.

If she reads this and says it’s all nonsense and she truly doesn’t care, continue as you were. But if the conversation goes somewhere else — be ready to listen. And begin planning like your relationship depends on it.

In which case “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge remains the perfect proposal song. (The remix with Rev Run, of course.) Throw that song on. Remind her that you’re not getting any younger. Might as well do it.

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.

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