It feels as though all your friends have got engaged in the last month—while your guy is taking forever to pop the question. You don’t want to bring up the subject of the ring yourself; after all, men are notoriously skittish about ‘till death do us part’.
But as relationship therapist Krista Bloom says, “If you and your guy have been together for a while and he’s not moving things forward with a proposal, you really should have a conversation to get what you need.”
When to bring it up
Every couple sets their own relationship pace, so there is no hard and fast rule that says you should be discussing a proposal after a particular amount of time has passed. That said, there are some guidelines you can follow. If you have been together for only four or five months, it’s too soon to detail the kind of ring you’re lusting after. At this point, you’re still getting to know each other, so it may weird him out. But it’s also not realistic to wait for years before bringing it up. “After you have been in a serious, monogamous relationship for more than a year, it’s perfectly reasonable to want to talk to him about the future,” says Bloom.
How to do it
If you’re not careful, issuing an ultimatum can come across a bit like a threat, which may make your guy feel like a caged animal. To avoid freaking him out entirely, it’s important to be firm but calm. One of the best ways to make sure you can stay relaxed is to talk to him as soon as you realise marriage has been on your mind frequently.
“If you wait until your feelings are boiling over, you’re bound to sound impatient, which may cause him to stop listening to you,” says Anthony Riche, author of Finally! How To Stop Dating Losers Forever.
When you start getting persistent wedding-bell urges, try to find a non-stressful time to chat, for example during a quiet dinner. But it’s very important to be direct. “Men don’t do well with hints, so telling him flat out what you want will have the best result,” says Bloom. Tell him you picture him as your husband and that you want to know if he’s on the same page. Or try, “I love being with you and want to move our relationship forward—I need to know if you feel the same.”
When to back off
You can’t expect him to propose immediately after your chat. Remember, you have had some time to let everything percolate, but this is new to him. “Give him a few weeks to think about his feelings on marriage,” advises Riche. Make a date to have a follow-up conversation—and don’t bring it up again till the date.
Once he makes a decision, it’s up to you where you go from there. “You can invite a man to propose, but you can’t force him to do it,” says Bloom. “If he’s really not ready, you have to decide whether you want to wait for him or move on.”
Are you prepared to lose him?
Remember: bringing something up and chatting about it for the first time is not an ultimatum. An ultimatum is the last resort, and experts agree that you should only deliver one when you’re prepared to lose your guy completely. The reason for this is, if he refuses to marry you and you don’t walk out on the relationship, you will lose all credibility in his eyes—and in your own. What’s more, he’ll probably see it as a sign that he can do whatever he likes, without repercussions.
“My boyfriend once mentioned in a drunken state that he wanted to travel around Europe ‘alone’ for six months. The next day I asked him if he saw a future with me, because I wouldn’t want to spend six months of my life waiting for him. We broke up a week later.”
—Juhi M., 26
“We’d been living together for five years, however most things were still separate. On our sixth anniversary, I gave him an ultimatum: that he propose in six months or I would end things. Happily he did and we’re now married with two kids.”
—Surbhi J., 29
“I told my boyfriend he had to quit his bartending job, or we couldn’t be together. The job meant he was always drunk and depressed—it was ruining my life and I couldn’t watch it anymore. He did, got another position that he loves and now he can’t bear to think about that bar stint.”
—Anuja K., 26
HOW WOULD YOU REACT TO AN ULTIMATUM?
“If I loved her and I could see how it would benefit the both of us, I would probably do it. Sometimes guys just need
—TANAY R., 26
“I honestly don’t think ultimatums are very helpful, so I’d probably realise the girl isn’t all that and move forward.”
—Deven M., 27
“It all depends what the ultimatum was. I can be very stubborn and I don’t like the idea of changing because someone told me to.”
—Ayushmaan M., 26
Men don’t do well with hints, so tell him flat out what you want