Are You Ready to Get Engaged? Signs It’s Time to Take Your Relationship to the Next Step

For some, the thought of getting engaged in the near future feels magical. For others, it feels terrifying — and not in a good way.

Whether you’ve been in a romantic relationship for less than a year or you’ve celebrated multiple anniversaries together (so far), it’s fun to think about what a future marriage proposal might look or feel like … someday.

But thinking seriously about what’s to come might have you wondering: If you were to ask them right now — or you were the one being asked — would the answer be “yes”?

How do you know if you’re ready to get engaged — or if you aren’t (now or ever)? Here are a few signs of each — plus the changes you might notice in your partner’s behavior before they ask you to marry them.

Should you get engaged?

Engagement ring

Engagement ring | iStock.com/ loongar

When you first start asking yourself (or your partner) this question, you might be tempted to gauge¬†your readiness based on how long you’ve been together.

But whether you’ve been dating three months or three years, there are several signs the relationship you’re in is ready for a special kind of long-term commitment.

It may be time for a formal engagement if:

  • You’ve learned to work (and play) as a team.
  • You bring out the best in each other — and make each other stronger.
  • You can’t imagine spending the rest of your life with anyone else.
  • You would willingly marry them right now — even without a big wedding.

To you, marriage isn’t about the dress or the dancing or even the rings — though all that sounds pretty great. You just want to be with the person you love forever. The I dos are just a bonus.

But there are also ways to tell if you’re not quite ready to make that kind of commitment. It’s better to be honest — with your partner and yourself — than jump into something you aren’t mentally, emotionally, or financially prepared for.

How to know you’re not ready to get married (yet)

There are a few telltale signs that point away from marriage — but maybe not forever. Whether or not you’re ready might depend on where you’re at in your career or other aspects of your personal life. But your feelings about the present and future of your relationship matter most of all.

You might not be ready to get married if:

  • You feel like you’re settling.
  • The thought of getting married leaves you feeling unpleasant, not excited or happy.
  • You care more about having a wedding than being married — one lasts a day; the other, ideally, forever.
  • When you picture your future, you can’t see them in it.

For some, marriage simply isn’t the end goal — and that’s OK. It’s possible to maintain a healthy long-term relationship without rings and a legal commitment. As long as the two of you agree on what’s best for the future — marriage or no marriage — the choice is up to you.

Signs your partner is about to propose

Marriage proposal

Marriage proposal | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Think the two of you are headed toward a new stage in your relationship? If your partner is getting ready to ask you to marry them, chances are, you’ll know — even if they’re super subtle about it (or they’re trying to be).

You can expect it to happen relatively soon if:

  • They’re talking/spending time with your friends or family more than usual.
  • They’re watching their budget.
  • They’re talking more about the future.
  • They’re acting nervous around you.

Ready — or not — don’t forget to breathe. They say that when you’ve met “The One,” you’ll know it’s, one way or another, meant to be. Maybe they’re right.