When you're ready to get married but your long-term boyfriend shows no signs of an impending proposal, the wait can be unbearable, even when it seems you've dropped every hint in the book. The idea of speeding up the process by giving him an ultimatum - propose by a certain deadline or the relationship is over - might seem like an effective route. However, try not to jump the gun by giving him an all or nothing scenario. These guidelines can help you figure out whether a proposal is the best option for you both right now, and if so, whether an ultimatum is the best way to go about getting him on one knee.
Make sure he's the right person
It's sad to say, but some women just want to get engaged for the wrong reasons. Whether it's because of social norms, a desire to have a wedding, or any of the other worst reasons to get married, seriously take the time to evaluate whether this guy is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. If you're not sure he's the one, give yourselves more time to find out. If you realize he's not the one, it may be best to stop wasting one another's time. Take it from me - I experienced a broken engagement because I didn't take the time to figure out whether I was begging for a proposal from the right guy.
Make sure it's the right time
How long have you been dating? Length of courtship isn't a concern for everyone, but there is something to be said for having been through enough together to know you could make it work in the long run. Read Five Things Couples Should Experience Before Getting Engaged, for starters. Similarly, are you both ready for the demands of marriage? It can be very difficult to pay for a wedding, buy a house, start a family, and altogether share your life with someone who is not financially stable or mature enough for marriage.
Clearly communicate your hopes
Some guys honestly don't know that you're ready to get engaged if you do not outright tell them. He may not be able to interpret your subtle signals to mean that you want to get married to him and soon. Make sure you tell him clearly and while in a calm, rational mindset, as dating expert Anthony Riche advises in a Cosmopolitan article by Bethany Heitman. And be specific about your timeline. Knowing you were hoping to be engaged within the next six months as opposed to the next two years will change his way of thinking about your future.
Find out why he hasn't asked yet
While you might be tempted to think he is just dragging his feet, there are plenty of good reasons your man might not have popped the question yet (see Kathryn D'Imperio's article on lifelovebeauty.com). Maybe he doesn't feel like he has the right job or enough money, was given a bad example of marriage growing up, or has a fear of commitment he needs to overcome. If you get his issues out on the table, you may be able to work through them together, or you might realize you have irreconcilable differences and need to go your separate ways.
Make a plan or give the ultimatum
After you've given him time to think about what he wants from the relationship, the ideal outcome would be that you each agree marriage is the proper next step for you as a couple and come to a mutual decision about the best time to get engaged. But if he is still foggy and evasive, then you need to consider your alternatives: continue waiting for him, leave the relationship, or give him an ultimatum.
Says relationship expert Cooper Lawrence in NY Daily News, "Setting a wedding ultimatum can be the nudge some men need... Some people actually need that as an impetus to move forward with their lives." But be prepared for things not to work out the way you'd prefer. If he doesn't propose, or if he rejects your ultimatum, you must be ready to give up the guy and walk away.
When it comes to marriage, it's good to know what you want, who you want it with, and when you want it, but realistically, you may have to give up one aspect of this plan for another. An ultimatum might speed up the process of getting on the same page if he's dragging his feet for the wrong reasons. Conversely, it might lead you to realize that you can't get on the same page and allow you to stop wasting your time. But be cautious, as it might also ruin a relationship with the right person. It's up to you to decide whether your when is more important than your who.
D'Imperio, Kathryn. "9 Reasons Why He May Not Propose (Right Now or Ever)." Lifelovebeauty.com
Heitman, Bethany. "Should You Give Him an Ultimatum?" Cosmopolitan.
"When to Give Your Guy an Ultimatum." NY Daily News.
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Proposal Faux Pas: Five Behaviors a Woman Should Avoid While Getting Engaged
Marriage Proposals: 7 Tips for Keeping it a Surprise
Casting Back Your Fish: Seven Signs It's Time to Break Up