close-up of man placing engagement ring on woman's finger
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Whether you’ve been with your partner forever or a short period of time, you may start asking yourself: “Should I propose?” Even though the old saying goes "when you know, you know," there are certain signs that it’s time to pop the question that you should look for—some are pretty obvious; others are a bit subtler.

If you’re wondering “should I propose?”, look for these signs to help you decide!

1. You speak in “we” vs. “I”

It may seem like a small grammatical change, but it’s actually huge. You see you and your partner as a unit, not just as individuals—and that’s an important step toward marriage.

2. You either live together or spend so much time together you might as well

If you can stand all of your partner’s potentially annoying habits day in and day out, chances are marriage is in your future.

3. You’ve talked about starting a family together

Wondering “should I propose?” The “should we have kids” discussion is pretty key.

4. You love the idea of sharing a last name

You and your partner may have talked about having the same last name—that’s a sign that you’re both comfortable with the idea of marriage and the traditions that may come with it. Of course, a shared last name is not a requirement—but if you and your partner are into it, it’s definitely a move toward getting hitched.

5. Your family calls your S.O. more than you

If your family loves your partner, it’s a great sign of a successful in-law relationship (and if they haven't met yet, get on it!).

6. You know their schedule better than they do

The fact that you care about your partner’s whereabouts is certainly important.

7. You're not afraid to "let it all hang out" around them. 

In the early stages of a relationship, you'll likely want to look your best 100 percent of the time. Once you've settled into a comfortable relationship, you're not afraid to let your partner see you in your ratty sweats or with your night retainer in. 

gay couple kissing with scenic water view behind them
Oakland Museum of California

8. You always consult each other before making big plans

You care about each other’s opinion, and want to spend as much time together as possible.

9. They’re always the first person you go to with good or bad news

A big part of a successful marriage is feeling comfortable discussing all types of subjects with your partner. If you’re asking yourself “should I propose?” think about if you’d feel comfortable discussing personal and sensitive topics with your partner. If the answer is yes, it’s a sign of a good match.

10. You know to DVR their favorite show if they’re running late at work

Knowing your partner’s likes and dislikes, and doing small tasks to make him or her happy is what true love is all about!

11. You could easily guess the passwords to their Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest

Maybe don’t actually try this, but it’s another sign of how well you know your partner.

12. You know exactly what will push their buttons

Arguments and disagreements are a part of even the strongest relationships. Knowing what will tick your partner off—and what will make him or her feel better—means that you are in tune with your partner’s personality.

interracial couple sit on the sidewalk and look at each other while holding hands
Ellie Koleen Photography

13. You celebrate the holidays together

The fact that you and your partner want to spend happy times together means that the answer to the “should I propose” question is probably yes!

14. You’re learning about each other’s religious beliefs and culture.

If culture and religion is a big part of your lives, learning about each other’s cultural beliefs is an important step toward starting a life together.  

15. Run-of-the-mill activities like grocery shopping are 10x more fun with them

If your partner can make even the lamest situations awesome (hello, DMV line!), you’re in it to win it.

16. You’ve seen them at their very worst and love them anyway

A long and healthy marriage is sure to have its ups—and definitely its down. If you’ve supported your partner during difficult times such as an illness, job issues, or family drama, it means that you’re well-suited for wedded bliss.

17. You know exactly what style engagement ring you’re going to buy them

If you’ve already started researching engagement rings, it’s clear that you’re ready to propose.

18. Their friends have become your friends

Marriage isn’t just about having a great relationship with your partner. It’s also about developing good rapports with their loved ones. If you’ve already checked off that box, you’re in great shape!

19. You’re clear on your each other’s career and/or education goals.

Your and your partner’s education and career will play a major role in your future together. Will your partner stay at his or her current job for a while or plan on switching careers? Will they be traveling often for work?   

20. They’re the only person that can cheer you up when you’re having a bad day

Your partner knows how to make you happy no matter what—you’re clearly meant to be!

Tim Waters Photography
Tim Waters Photography

21 You’ve discussed at length what kind of pet you want and what you’ll name it

As we all know, having a pet is just like having a child. If you’re ready to start a family together (furry or otherwise), that’s major.

22. You know whether they’re a spender or a saver.

Having a sense of your partner’s financial status and history is essential if you’re planning on taking the next step in your relationship. While you don’t have to have a detailed credit history for your partner (yet!), you should be ready to discuss your finances more in depth soon.

23. You know about their past relationships. 

While you don't have to know every gory detail of your partner's past breakups, it's still important to know about your partner's former relationships and why they ended. It may be a sensitive subject, but in order to face the future, you have to know about the past.  

24. You’ve finally figured out how to be in the same room when your favorite teams play each other

While you don’t have to agree on your sports loyalties, you at least understand each other’s passions.

25. You can spend hours in a car with them and never get bored

Again, it’s all about loving each other, whether you’re relaxing on a beach or stuck in a car together for 10 hours.

26. You truly can’t picture your life without them

In the end, this is the sign that matters most.

engagement photo hands holding
Light Dream Productions

How long should you wait before proposing?

Here’s the thing—there is no right or wrong timeframe for when to propose. The important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page about your future together. Good communication is key, and so are having regular check-ins about your relationship. If both of you feel comfortable taking about future plans, such as buying a house, having kids, and growing old together, you’re likely on the path to marriage. This may happen after several years together, or your relationship timeline might be shorter—every couple is different.

Is one year too soon to propose?

Once again, it depends! Some couples may feel ready to marry after one year, but for others, it may seem way too fast. Make sure you and your partner agree on your relationship timeline before getting down on one knee. If you feel like you’re ready for marriage, but you’re unsure about your partner, you can absolutely have a direct conversation about it. If there’s no need to rush things, feel free to put a pause button on the proposal and focus on enjoying your relationship.

Is it possible to wait too long to propose?

If you and your partner have been together for many years, you or your partner may be feeling antsy about when to propose. Remember that every couple is on a different timeline, so what seems like “too long” for some couples might be totally okay for another. Especially if you and your partner first started dating at a young age, you may need time to start your careers and become financially stable before getting engaged—and that can take time. However, if your partner is dropping hints or has given you an ultimatum, you’ll need to evaluate the relationship and whether or not you want to move forward. It’s not fair to string your partner along if you have no intention of proposing, unless you’re both okay with not getting married. Again, open communication is key here—discuss your concerns with your partner so you can talk about your future as a team.

If you’re ready to propose, here are your next steps!

Figuring out how to propose can be almost as stressful as planning a wedding. Our advice? Try to make your proposal as personal as possible. Often, the most romantic way to propose isn’t the most expensive or elaborate—it just feels true to your and your partner’s personalities. That might be a quiet evening at home with you giving a sweet proposal speech. Or it could be a trip to a far-off destination, or a proposal in a public place, like a sporting event or restaurant. All that matters is that your proposal comes straight from the heart.