Ask Amy: With Debt Comes No Proposal

By Amy Dickinson | December 9th, 2020

Is it fair to have to wait for her to clear her finances before getting a ring?


Woman in debt Image

Dear Amy: I am in my first long-term relationship as an adult (I am 31).

My boyfriend of two years told me that he will not propose to me until I pay off my debt.

I had acquired medical bills and a few credit card debts before we met. I owe $14,000 to creditors.

He said he doesn’t want to go into marriage in debt.

I understand that, but he is acting like he will not propose until all of my debts are settled.

That is going to take about another year.

How would you take this?

I appreciate any honesty that comes my way.

— Only the Girlfriend?

Dear Girlfriend: Debt, spending, and money management problems are very high on the list of stressors that break up relationships.

More important even than the debt you carry, is how you each respond to it.

Is your guy angry, judgmental, and controlling about your money choices? Or is he trying to approach this honestly, calmly, and as a team?

If he is angry and controlling, then this is a very bright red flag. If he is calm, supportive, and nonjudgmental, then I want to marry him.

So, wake up. Your adulthood is calling.

You two have already taken an extremely important step, by communicating honestly about this.

If you can retire $14,000 worth of debt in a year, I’d say that you are being impressively proactive, and that you are lucky to have a high enough income (and low enough expenses) to lose this burden relatively quickly.

After you’ve paid off your debt, you can then take the extra money that has been going toward payments each month and become an aggressive and responsible saver.

I appreciate money manager Suze Orman’s advocacy for financial literacy. You might benefit from reading her book, “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (2007, Riverhead).


Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

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