How do you know if you’re ready to propose? Here are 5 signs it’s time.

If you’re in a relationship with someone you can imagine spending your forever with, there comes a time where you’ll naturally ask if you’re ready to get engaged. Back in the olden days, there used to be some element of protocol about when it was “time” to pop the question. Nowadays, however, we’re happily much more free to make decisions when it feels most right to do so. With that freedom, however, comes some confusion about whether you’re actually ready or not.

Asking someone to be your husband or wife is understandably a scary prospect. There’s not only the emotional repercussions of asking that question (“will they say yes?”, “how should you plan a unique proposal?”), but there’s also the reality of committing to a lifetime together. Whilst you might feel that you can’t imagine a life with anyone else, still, making that an official fact can be somewhat nerve-wracking. 

So are you really really to propose? 

In this article we’ll round up 5 signs that you might be ready to take your relationship to the next level. 

Photographer: Jonah Deaton

You’ve talked about it and are on the same page

Though it can be tempting to keep your thoughts on marriage ambiguous, research shows that couples who set clear intentions about marriage tend to be happier in the long run. So, whilst it might be easier not to bring up those difficult conversations about where you both stand on the topic marriage, it’s worth doing so to make sure you’re on the same page.

If you have already discussed marriage and have both agreed it’s something you’d a) both like to do and b) both like to do with each other – then it’s a great sign that you can approach a proposal without fearing that you’re over stepping the mark. By already having those conversations, you’ve reached a level of seriousness and commitment in your relationship that it’s unlikely you’ll come off as being too strong when you do decide to ask.

You talk about the future as a couple

When you find yourself talking about your plans in 10 years time, do you do so with the assumption that you’ll both still be together? If so that’s a great sign that you’re ready to propose. Even if you’re not sure what you’ll be doing, but it feels the most natural thing in the world to imagine that you’ll be doing it together – then you’re probably ready to pop the question.

Photographer: Kylie Farmer

You say “we”, not “I”

Making the grammatical shift to being a collective noun is actually a huge deal. It means that you’re a unit, and that your successes, failures and goals are shared. This is an incredibly important shift to go through before marriage. If you talk about “our home”, “our vacation”, “our plans”… then marriage could well be a positive next step.

You can argue together

Arguments are an important part of every relationship. When couples say they never argue, what they mean is that they never voice the things that irritate them about the other person. That’s ok, but eventually it will bubble to the surface.

If, on the other hand, you can respectfully argue with one another without it being the end of the world – that’s a great sign. The strongest relationships are the ones where you can be totally truthful, and know that the other person will still love you. That’s why arguments are such a healthy part of a relationship. If you can disagree with your partner without it being a big deal (and definitely without letting it fester for longer than a day), it’s a great sign that your relationship has reached a level of emotional maturity for marriage.

Photographer: Kleigh Orzolek

You’ve seen them at their worst and love them more for it

Everybody is human. We all make mistakes from time to time. If your relationship has weathered its own storms and you’ve been able to support one another through the hard times – it means you’re prepared for the realities of married life together. From job losses, to illnesses, to personal tragedies: if you’ve seen your partner at their most vulnerable and stuck by them and loved them anyway – you’ve got a relationship for life.

You can’t picture life without them

When it comes down to it, this is really how you know. If you can’t physically comprehend a life without your person – you’re ready to propose. There are no rules about when it’s right to ask the question, but at the end of the day, if you can’t imagine a future apart, then it’s probably time. To sign off, we leave you with the poignant words of Louis de Bernières, who illustrates this point perfectly:

“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision: You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement. It is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love,’ which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being ‘in love’ has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those who truly love have roots that grow toward each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières