Anxiously awaiting a proposal and wondering when they're going to pop the question? We’ve been there, which is why we know there is a delicate balance between dropping hints about your dream proposal (subtly), and flooding your partner's inbox with links to flash mobs, your college friend's ring selfie, and viral engagements. TBH, there’s nothing less romantic than demanding a diamond alongside 200 red roses in a private yacht.
We get it: You want to tell your significant other how you feel, but also not force the life-changing moment. But this is a conversation you definitely should have. Deciding to get engaged is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life, and both partners in the relationship should have agency in making it. To get on the same page and take another step toward marriage, here are 11 ways you can drop hints about your dream proposal.
Tell your significant other how you feel
There’s no clearer proposal hint than telling your significant other that you see your relationship heading toward marriage. As much as we may wish it were possible, our other halves cannot read our minds. Hoping and praying will not lead to tangible results; sitting down and communicating will. In the discussion, you’ll also learn where your S.O.’s head is at, and you can set a realistic timeline for saying “I do.”
Discuss the future
Have serious conversations about big life issues including money, religion, professions, children, travel, and where you want to live. You don’t have to decide all the details at the moment, but having realistic and honest chats around your goals and morals help you both find common ground. Your significant other will know you’re in it for the long haul when you work to get on the same page about sticky subjects. Plus, you’ll become closer as a pair when you're able to tackle major life challenges together. It’s a win-win!
Plan a marriage timeline
While you’re being truthful and sharing emotions, make a loose plan for taking the big step with one another. Many couples prefer to pay off student debts, resolve personal issues, deal with family illnesses, and manage savings before entering into marriage, even when they are entirely in love. Finding out that your significant other is helping out their family financially will help alleviate your anxiety about why there might be a holdup for an engagement. It’s also a great time to discuss the monetary obligation of the ring. They could be waiting because they're saving for the big purchase.
Introduce your families
One way to show your significant other you’re in it to win it is to meet the parents. Be sure you plan a gathering in which your parents can have quality time with your significant other and vice versa. If possible, organize a get-together with both families. This allows everyone to become more comfortable being extended family, find similarities, and strike up friendships. You never know—your parents may all get along famously and that’s one hurdle you’ve cleared. Plus, your parents are more likely to give their blessing when they’ve met your S.O. (and like them!)
Build your home and life together
If you choose to live together before marriage, begin to set up a proper home. Say goodbye to college futons, Solo cups, and mismatched towels. Go furniture shopping together—we’ve all seen how cute that Ikea scene is in 500 Days of Summer—and make some major purchases, such as a couch or dining room table. Trade out temporary kitchen goods for a set of ceramic plates and matching flatware, then actually use it. Make dinner together once a week, and gasp (!) eat at the table with a placemat and napkin instead of with Netflix. You’ll likely want to save some home goods for your registry, but nothing should stop you from starting the process as you settle into the next stage of your relationship.
Don’t issue an ultimatum
Contrary to the experience of rom-com characters and reality show stars, ultimatums don’t bode well for the average relationship. Being demanding, bratty, and nagging will likely have the opposite effect. Who wants to marry someone who is always on your case? The same goes for setting an arbitrary deadline. That can lead to all sorts of adverse effects, including not getting the custom ring you want (because, timing!) or bitter feelings from your S.O. You want to feel like equals in a partnership, not that one person holds all the power. It’s not the best way to start a life together.
Talk about rings
If you have a specific ring design in mind, share it with your significant other when you discuss your relationship goals. Again, he or she can’t read your mind, so tell your S.O. you want a sapphire over a diamond, or you want to skip it all for a Rolex. Pictures help guys especially, since they likely have zero experience looking at or shopping for diamond jewelry. Don’t fear it will take away from the romance—it can still be up to them to pick it out or design a ring—but at least you’ll feel more secure knowing it won’t feature that setting you hate.
Share what you don’t want
Like ring designing, many people have no idea where to start when it comes to planning a surprise proposal. If popular tactics, such as flash mobs, jumbo screens at sports games, or during a fancy dinner aren’t your thing, be sure to let your partner know. One great hint is to tell them that you’d prefer a private moment over a public one. That lets them know that you’d rather wake up to a ring in bed than be surprised in front of 1,000 total strangers. Not all of us want to be a center of attention.
Remind them that personal is better than elaborate
It's easy to get caught up in the world of viral proposal videos and over-the-top professions of love. That can quickly lead to inferior feelings, especially if your partner doesn't want (or have) a huge chunk of cash to throw down on a proposal. Support them by making it clear that you don’t need to compete with Instagram—just your favorite champagne and a vase of peonies will do.
Plan a trip
If getting engaged in front of the Eiffel Tower or with the backdrop of the Taj Mahal is your ultimate dream, plan ahead. Suggest the vacation to your significant other, budget your money, and book flights. If your partner knows that’s your fantasy, they just may jump at the chance to make it a reality.
Pop the question yourself
Hello, 21st century. There are no longer rules that a certain half of the relationship has to do the proposing. Take matters into your own hands, literally, and plan a proposal. Pick out a ring, organize your own elaborate event to pop the question, or even consider agreeing to marriage sans ring. Then you can design one together or shop for the perfect bauble as an engaged couple.