Are you scratching your head, wondering if it’s time to take the plunge and make it official? It’s normal to feel a little uncertain about when to propose—even if you’ve been with your partner for ages and are convinced you’re meant to be together. After all, this is a life decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Let’s face it, at some point, you’ll have to take a leap of faith. You can never be 100% sure when to propose, but there are a few key signs to look for. Let’s dive in!
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When to Propose: 18 Signs You’re Ready to Put a Ring On It.
Well, let’s get real for a sec: everyone is different, and what works for one couple might not work for another. Some people are all about planning for the future, while others tend to fly by the seat of their pants and make decisions on a whim. No matter what kind of couple you are, there are some universal truths that every relationship needs to go the distance. So, if you’re on the fence about getting engaged, keep an eye out for these signs that you’re ready to take the next step. Who knows, you might just be ready to get down on one knee sooner than you think!
1. You’ve talked about marriage.
Psst, wanna know a secret? Proposals aren’t supposed to be a complete surprise. That’s right, folks—you can’t just spring a marriage proposal on someone out of nowhere! Sure, you can still have a “surprise proposal” with the when, where, and how, but they should already know that you’re interested in marrying them. If this news comes as a shock, it’s a sign that you might not be on the same page about your future together… and you seriously need to work on communication.
It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your partner about your relationship goals. Make sure you’re both on the same page about getting married and what that means for your future together. Trust us, it’ll make the proposal all the more magical when the time comes.
2. You think of the rest of your life as a pair, rather than as an individual.
Here’s a fast rule to help you figure out if you’re ready for the big “M” word: pay attention to your language! When you start using “we” and “our” instead of “me” and “I” when talking about future plans, it’s a sign that you’re on the right track. You’re no longer just thinking about your individual dreams, but including your partner in the picture.
So, if you’re daydreaming about married life, “our home” and “our kids,” instead of just “my career” and “my goals,” it’s a sign that you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship. Keep those conversations about your joint future going, and who knows—a proposal might be just around the corner!
3. You’re at your most comfortable with them.
The best relationships are between two individuals who are completely at ease with each other. You need to be comfortable being your true self around your partner. That means being able to show them all your quirks and idiosyncrasies. It also means being able to speak up about what you want and need instead of just nodding along to everything they say. Let’s not forget about being comfortable with each other’s grossness—because let’s face it, we all have our moments. If you find you have to change your behavior, goals, dreams, or sense of humor around your partner, then they might not be the one for you. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life walking on eggshells.
4. In general, you want the same things.
So, you and your partner are on the same page about the future, huh? That’s a good sign! Before you pop the question, you better make sure. This should go without saying, but there are several major areas of life that you need to have some serious conversations about. Do you actually want to be married? Do you want to have kids? If so, how many? When? How will you raise them? What kind of punishment do you believe in? Which religion? What are your career paths and timelines? These are just a few questions to thoroughly talk through before taking the plunge!
You don’t have to unabashedly agree about everything, but you need to know what your hard lines are. When it comes to the non-negotiables, if you are not in agreement, moving forward is unwise. You and your partner are unlikely to budge on these items. Don’t assume you will eventually change their mind. You likely won’t, and it will lead to years of unhappiness.
If you’ve been talking about marriage, here are a few more of “The Most Important Questions to Ask Before Getting Married.”
5. They start giving hints.
It’s like a treasure hunt—when your partner drops hints about getting engaged, it’s a sign that they’re ready for the next step! They might bring up weddings in conversations or casually mention how stunning an engagement ring would look on their finger. They linger at jewelry store windows and their Pinterest is full of white gowns. When you start noticing these signs, get your proposal plans ready!
6. The conversation is always flowing.
If you and your boo can chat about anything from your favorite pizza toppings to your deepest fears, then you’re on the right track for a healthy relationship. Strong communication is like the superpower of relationships—it can conquer just about any obstacle. Whether you’re dealing with family drama, work stress, or just deciding where to go on vacation, being able to talk it out in a loving and respectful manner is key.
So, if you’re wondering whether you should pop the big question, ask yourself this: could you talk to your partner about the most awkward, cringe-worthy, and potentially embarrassing things without feeling judged or ashamed? If the answer is a resounding “heck yeah!” then you’ve got yourself a winner. Congrats, you lovebirds!
7. You’ve had hard times and made it through them.
If you’ve been through rough patches with your partner and come out the other side, then congratulations! You might be ready for an engagement. Think of it as a rite of passage. No relationship is perfect, and sometimes you’re going to have to work through some serious stuff. If you can fight fair and find solutions together, then you know you’ve got something special.
8. When friends and family start asking.
When your family and friends start asking when you’re going to pop the question or tie the knot, it might be a sign that they see something brewing between you and your partner. While you should never make a decision that big based on someone else’s assessment, if the people you trust and respect think you’re ready for the next step, it might be worth considering. Just remember, at the end of the day, you’re the one who knows your relationship best. So, trust your instincts, communicate with your significant other, and move at your own pace!
9. You like how they treat other people.
It’s not just about how they treat you, but how they treat others too! Sure, your partner might be sweet as pie to you right now, but how they treat their friends, family, past relationships, and even strangers, can be a red flag. It’s important to observe their behavior with others before taking the plunge. After all, when the honeymoon phase is over, and you’re knee-deep in dirty laundry and grocery shopping, their true colors will come out. So, take a step back and make sure you like what you see!
10. You’re both willing to put in the work.
Premarital counseling is a good idea for all couples. It’s a proactive way to make sure you’re on the same page with your partner and ready to take on whatever comes your way. Plus, it’s a great way to learn some new skills and strategies for communicating and resolving conflict. So, if you’re open to the idea of premarital counseling, that’s a great sign that you’re willing to put in the work to make your relationship strong and successful.
11. You talk to each other before making big plans.
You two are practically joined at the hip! You don’t make major moves without consulting each other first. It’s like you’re each other’s personal board of directors, seeking out the other’s wise counsel. It’s not just a matter of listening to what the other has to say, you actively seek out each other’s thoughts and feelings. While a degree of autonomy is important, and your partner doesn’t want someone who can’t make a decision, it’s a good sign when you genuinely want their opinion on life decisions.
12. Your partner is your ride-or-die.
Your partner is your go-to person for everything, from the biggest triumphs to the most epic fails. They’re the first one you hit up with news, good or bad, because you know they’ll be there to celebrate or commiserate with you. In a successful marriage, you can count on your partner to have your back and listen with an open heart (and maybe a glass of wine). Life comes with a lot of hardship, your spouse should be the one person you know without a doubt will fight tooth and nail for you.
13. You understand each other’s religious views and culture.
As you get to know each other better, pay attention to each other’s backgrounds and beliefs. Whether it’s trying new foods, attending religious services, or celebrating holidays in a different way, if you’re both open to exploring and embracing each other’s traditions, that’s a good sign.
While culture might not seem like a huge barrier in the carefree dating stage, you need to know what the other person (and their family) expect from a marriage. In many cultures, a girlfriend is not the same as a wife. Don’t get smacked in the face by new expectations once the vows are said.
14. You have been in contact with jewelers.
You’ve been doing research and pricing engagement rings like a boss, which can only mean one thing—you’re totally ready to pop the question. It’s kind of like you’re a secret agent, gathering intel on your partner’s style. If you find yourself ring sleuthing, it’s a pretty clear sign.
15. Enough time has gone by.
Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D. in Psychology Today writes, “Research shows that dating three or more years decreases the likelihood of divorce to about 50 percent lower at any time point. The perception of knowing a partner “very well” at the time of marriage also reduces the likelihood of divorce by 50 percent at any given time. Entering into a marriage as a way to change a relationship often leads to disillusionment and disappointment.”
While there’s no set timeline for when to pop the question (every couple certainly doesn’t need three years), you probably shouldn’t propose on the first date. For some, one year may feel like enough time to take things to the next level, while others may want to wait a bit longer. The real key, according to Dr. DiDonato is that feeling of knowing your partner intimately.
It’s important to make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to your relationship timeline. If you’re feeling ready to take the plunge but aren’t sure if your partner is on the same wavelength, have an honest conversation about it. It’s better to make sure you’re both on board before taking such a big step. There’s no need to rush things. You have plenty of time to figure out what’s right for both of you.
16. You started to envision being married.
You find yourself daydreaming about what your life together would look like—from the proposal to the wedding planning and beyond. You’re suddenly drawn to Pinterest boards filled with diamond ring styles, and you can’t help but imagine all the fun adventures and happy moments you’ll share as a married couple. In fact, you can’t imagine a life without them anymore.
17. Your friend groups merge together.
When you start dating someone, it can be nerve-wracking to meet their friends. But if you hit it off, it’s like unlocking a whole new level of fun in your relationship. Suddenly, you’ve got more people to laugh with, more people to go on adventures with, and more people to share life’s ups and downs with. If you’ve reached the point where your partner’s friends have become your friends, then you, my friend, are winning at this whole relationship thing! Having a good rapport with your partner’s loved ones is key to a successful marriage.
Adventures From Scratch: Friends Edition is a great way to break the ice with 50+ scratch-off challenges designed to bring you and their friends closer together.
18. You get along with the in-laws.
Getting along with your in-laws can be a bit of a daunting task. In most relationships, you’re not just marrying your partner, you’re marrying their whole family. If you’ve managed to forge a good relationship with your future in-laws, then you’re definitely on the right track for marriage!
Strive to get along with your partner’s family. When you do, it makes life so much easier. You can enjoy holidays and special occasions without any awkward tension, and you have a built-in support system for when life gets tough. Plus, it’s just plain fun to hang out with people who love your partner as much as you do!
So, if you’re trying to decide about proposing, take a good look at your relationship with your future in-laws. If you haven’t quite won them over yet, that’s not a deal breaker. Don’t worry! Keep being yourself. Keep showing them love and respect, and before you know it, you’ll be one big happy family. “Family” is a funny concept. Your partner may have no relationship with their birth parents, but they likely have someone they consider on that level of importance. Whoever it is, make your best effort.
Proposing is not just a big showy moment or a fancy checkbox to tick off your relationship to-do list. It’s a major life decision. When you propose to someone, you’re making a long-term commitment to them. You’re promising to stick with them through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad. You’re signing up to support their dreams and goals as if they were your own, and to build a future together. So, before you pop the question, make sure you’ve got a solid foundation of shared experiences and plenty of conversations under your belt. Most importantly, make sure you’re both on the same page about your future together. Happy proposing!
Are you having trouble managing your time between your new serious romantic relationship and your obligations to other important peeps in your life? Take some tips from “Balancing Time Between Friendships and a Romantic Relationship.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing how soon is too soon is not an easy thing to figure out. Each couple is different. Here are some important questions you should ask before proposing.
It’s important that both of you are on the same page and have talked about marriage before you propose. You can still surprise them with when, where, and how.
There are signs you can be looking for to help you know if they want to marry you. They talk about your future together, they are looking at rings, or their friends and family start asking when you are going to propose.
Some good signs you should propose are you have similar religious and political beliefs, you make big decisions together, and your dating life is fun and fulfilling!
It’s important to build a healthy relationship with your in-laws before you propose, and you should ask permission before proposing if your partner has a good relationship with her parents.