Many people who have been dating for a while, or who have used the “love” word without fear, think that they are automatically ready to get engaged. This may be the case, but usually both people really need some time to think about their experiences, background, and futures before taking this leap. That being said, if you are the one who is likely to be proposed to, you may want to think these questions through sooner rather than later; if there is something that would prevent you from saying an enthusiastic “Yes! A thousand times yes!”—you’ll want to address that concern.
Do You Feel Mature Enough to Be Married?
This isn’t about whether your parents, your friends, or anyone else thinks you are mature enough, or cares if you’re a particular age (although there are certainly ages that can raise serious concerns about getting engaged). Rather, this is a moment of soul searching for you. Are you ready to take seriously the commitment you are making to another person? No one else can truly tell you this, but if you aren’t feeling solid on this front, it’s wise to give yourself some time to get there.
Are You Ready to Put Your Relationship Above Other Interests?
One of the truths about committing to marriage means that some of your decisions, if not all of them, will take your partner into account. Certainly, people do get married and make career changes, move around, and take off on exciting travels, but to some extent, you have to be on the same page as your partner to make those happen. Marriage does change the way you experience freedom, and if the idea of having to work within the bounds of what your partner wants is overwhelming, you should reconsider the level of your commitment. If you aren’t sure how your partner will react to a major life change, it might be more important to have that conversation rather than quickly get engaged.
Do You Want to Change Anything About Your Partner?
If you are excited about getting engaged, consider the way you imagine the future. Do you imagine your partner as they are now, or do you see them changed in some way? It’s hard to admit, but many people expect that marriage, maturing, or something else will make their partner’s personality change. If you expect them to gain initiative, become kinder, or alter something else about who they are or how they live, you may not be ready to get engaged. While people certainly change over the course of their lives, it isn’t wise to make a lifelong commitment based on the assumption that someone will change. If you think you’re ready to be engaged, you should accept your partner as they currently are.
Is Your Partner Ready for This Level of Commitment?
Maybe you know you are completely ready to get engaged, but there is certainly a possibility that your partner isn’t quite ready. Whether you’re planning to propose or you are awaiting a proposal, think about what is best for your partner, too. Your partner might benefit from a little more time before moving into this next stage.
Are You Ready to Join Your Partner’s Family?
Many people assume that their in-laws won’t be a huge impact on their relationship, but in most cases, you will be affected by both your partner’s family and the way your partner relates to them. If your partner’s family is hard to be around or has an unhealthy relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, it will affect you. This isn’t about having a picture-perfect relationship with everyone in his or her family, but rather recognizing that through all the tough holidays or conflict-filled conversations, you will stick with them.
What Do You Need to Work Through First?
Every couple is unique, but many couples are willing to ignore potential sources of concern rather than have those hard conversations. Rather than waiting until you’re married and feel confronted by the issues in your or your partner’s past, accept that working through those issues is something to do now. This can look different for many people; some may recognize that couple’s or individual therapy will help, while others simply need to acknowledge lack of trust or other hard truths of their relationships. You and your partner know which elephants in the room you’ve been careful to avoid. It doesn’t make any sense to get married while ignoring the tough things.
None of these questions and their answers are to say you should definitely put off getting engaged; it’s all about realizing that you’ve checked off the boxes that mean you’re likely ready for the long-term commitment of marriage. Answering these questions with an enthusiastic “I’m ready for this!” is a sign that engagement will be a beautiful and exciting time for you.