My boyfriend proposed to me last year and I said yes, but I felt anxious about the idea of a wedding – I hate the idea of being the centre of attention, I don’t like wearing dresses anyway and it’s such a huge amount of money to pay for one day that I want to be sure I’ll enjoy it and not worry that I’ll flip out on the day and (worse case scenario) decide not to go through with it. My other worry is whether we should get married at all because our sex life is practically non-existent at the moment – my boyfriend doesn’t seem to be interested in sex and as a result I feel really unattractive and have low self esteem. I wonder whether he just asked me to marry him as we’ve been together so long (10 years) and it’s the next logical step.
I find it hard to talk to him about this as he always tells me I’m being silly and says he loves me and then we both say we’ll try harder to make time for sex, but ultimately nothing changes. If anything, it seems to have become worse lately.
All these worries are going round and round in my head and making me feel really depressed.
I have friends who have recently got engaged and they’re so excited and happy and I look at them and wonder why I can’t feel like that. I really wish that I could be happy about getting married like a ‘normal’ person but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to feel that way. Should I just cut my losses and cancel the wedding now? or do I stick it out in the hope that things will improve?
A. From reading your letter I get the impression that the main issue is a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. You seem to be looking to external sources, your boyfriend for instance, for evidence of self-worth. You also mentioned that you do not want to be the center of attention. People with self-esteem problems oftentimes do not want to be the center of attention. They are afraid of the scrutiny or what people will think of them. This is one indication of a lack of self-esteem.
You also mention the lack of sex between you and your boyfriend. At no time do you mention that you have a high sex drive or that you are not being satisfied sexually. Your complaint is that not having sex may indicate that your boyfriend does not find you attractive. Once again, this is evidence that you seem to be looking to an external source for self-esteem (i.e. to determine whether or not you are attractive, lovable, etc.).
It’s important to keep in mind, as you mentioned in your letter, that you and he are busy. The fact that you are both sometimes too busy to have sex does not mean he is not interested in having sex. It means simply that you both lead busy lives. That is the nature of mature adult lives. Many people are busy and this gets in the way of having sex. Also keep in mind that in the beginning of relationships, sex seems to be very important and the biological sex drive is high. Later, in the relationship, the sex drive declines for virtually everyone. Your sex life might be completely normal. You may be having the right amount of sex for the both of you, given your sex drive and how busy you both are.
Nowhere in your letter do you mention your boyfriend really loving you or your loving him. The idea of “cutting your losses and leaving” should be based on love. If you do not love him or he doesn’t love you then the relationship should be over. You know what you feel but you cannot attempt to know what he feels based on how often you and he have sex.
You worry that your boyfriend only asked you to marry him because you have been together for so long. He’s known you for 10 years. After 10 years, he knows whether or not he wants to be with you. He knows if he wants a big commitment like marriage. Suggesting that he doesn’t really want to marry you and that he is just doing it because it’s “logical” is another sign of low self-esteem. In reality, it’s logical to break up if you are not happy with someone. It is also logical to want to marry someone you’re happy with. He could have left you but he didn’t. Instead he asked you to marry him.
You make a mistake when you believe that all ‘normal’ people get excited about the possibility of marriage. Marriage is a legal term. You have been with your boyfriend for 10 years. In essence, you have been married. For the people who are excited about being married, should they be? If you are in a committed relationship and are married in every way but legally, why would it be a big event? It’s a legal event. Not all people are overly excited about being married.
You are correct; it is a lot of money for a one-day party. Today, unlike centuries past, marriage is most often not a lifelong commitment. It is very common for people to be divorced three or four times. Some people spend $30,000 or $40,000 on a wedding and the marriage lasts six months. Marriage isn’t about the size of the reception or the number of people at the church.
In summary, I suspect that you may have a self-esteem problem. Counseling could help with this. Though you are finding it difficult to talk to your boyfriend, doing this in a counseling environment with an objective third party would tell you if you are being irrational or illogical. It seems as though your boyfriend has done nothing to give the indication that he doesn’t want to marry you, yet you continue to hold the idea that he really doesn’t want to marry you. You believe it is something that he is just going to do because he’s been with you for 10 years yet he has said otherwise and even laughs when you ask him about it. Perhaps this is why you find it a difficult matter to discuss. You won’t accept what he has to say; you negate it. It is almost as if you refuse to believe that he could possibly be correct because he has such a high opinion of you. These are signs of low self esteem and are very common symptoms. I have tried to answer your letter and provide you some possibilities. I don’t have enough information to provide an accurate diagnosis and I never attempt to provide one without an in person evaluation. Click on the find help tab to locate a therapist in your community.
Please take care. I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Dec 2010
Randle, K. (2010). Should I Cancel My Wedding Due To Anxiety and Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/09/should-i-cancel-my-wedding-due-to-anxiety-and-depression/