How to Know You're Ready to Get Engaged

It's not just about a ticking clock.

There is no set time to date or checklist to mark in order to know it’s time to get engaged. Some couples are together for months, others for years. It can vary wildly by religion, culture, and more. With so many variables, it can seem impossible to be sure when it’s time to propose (or to start dropping hints about engagement rings). And in a way, it is. But there are signs to help know that you and your partner are ready to take that next step. 

how to know you're ready to be engaged, when it's time to propose
Photo by Heather Kincaid

First, it’s helpful to look at what are not signs. Having been together for over five years doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready. There are plenty of situations where couples only really got engaged because they never got around to breaking up. On the other end of the spectrum, for people who practice abstinence and/or don’t believe in cohabitating before marriage, it can be tempting to get married in order to move on to the next stage. However, it’s way more important to make sure you are actually with the right person. 

One reason people tend to worry about couples who get engaged quickly is that an important step to being ready for commitment is to know each other’s faults. If you’re going to vow to love one another “for better or for worse,” it’s crucial to know what “for worse” entails! Any deal breakers should be addressed beforehand so you don’t have a surprise after tying the knot. This is why discussing children and finances – among other things – before marriage is so important. 

Having healthy communication and trust in each other is key to a healthy marriage. If you are not at this point yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. However, it would probably be a good idea to explore couple’s counseling or consulting some self-help books together before making a legally binding commitment to one another. 

You could be in a perfect long-term relationship and the timing still might not be right. This is why people often chide couples under the age of 25 as “too young” to get married. It can work out, but completing your education, starting a career, and having a life experience as an independent adult (even if you lived together) can be a big help in your stability – not to mention for planning a wedding! 

If you got engaged to the wrong person, find out what to do after canceling a wedding. Once married, learn what mistakes to avoid in the first year of marriage.

Authored by: Emily Lasnier