engagement ring

So, you’ve been with your partner for a while now and feel confident that they’re “the one.” How do you hint that you want to get engaged without making your partner feel pressured—or ruining the surprise of a potential proposal? Well, it turns out that it’s actually pretty common for people in relationships to drop hints that they’re ready for marriage. According to the new #DropAHint study from WeddingWire and Betches Brides, 72% of respondents who saw themselves getting engaged in the next few years have already discussed it with their partner. And over 60% said they’re dropping hints as often as weekly or monthly, with one-third saying they plan to drop more than 15 hints before the proposal.

If you feel like you want to get engaged but your partner might not be ready yet, you’re far from alone. In fact, it’s very common in relationships for one person to be more ready to move on to the next step, be it becoming “official,” moving in together, or making a mutual purchase like a car or a house.

“As we know, opposites very much attract, so often where person is the ambitious go-getter looking to shift and change, while the other is more interested in preserving what is without rocking the boat,” explains Dinorah Nieves, Ph.D., aka “Dr. D,” behavioral scientist, personal development coach and consultant for OWN’s Iyanla Fix My Life. “It’s also important that we consider the historical and social circumstances surrounding marriage and how they impact who we are and what we want—for example, men are encouraged to ‘sow their wild oats,’ while women are encouraged to belong to one partner.”

This too, she explains, plays a large part in why women are often the first to want to get engaged in romantic, heterosexual relationships. “As far as we’ve come from the rigid and oppressive gender roles that once governed our society, we are still fighting centuries of conditioning that seeps into our psyches in the most subtle of ways,” Dr. D adds. Before you let this frustration build up to the point where it leads to arguments between the two of you, read these expert tips on how to hint that you want to get engaged without being too obvious.

Have open lines of communication.

Dr. D believes that a direct and honest comment or conversation is always the best starting point to let your significant other know that you want to get engaged. “Many people are hesitant to have this conversation, perhaps because they’re afraid of rejection, or fear that the other person might feel rushed into something,” she says. Joele Amster, MS, registered marriage and family therapist intern, agrees, adding that a casual conversations over wine or in a relaxed atmosphere, can send the right message. “You can remind your partner of how happy you are in the relationship (hint: I love you. Let’s move this along,” she says.

Plan a romantic getaway.

Romantic weekends away can bring your partner to the realization of how wonderful it is to spend a lot of time together, explains Amster. However, this doesn’t have to be a fancy and expensive trip. Even a weekend getaway or staycation where you enjoy the town or city in which you live, can do the trick and help you bond as a couple. “Getting away from the usual routine of daily life gives you some special time to connect both physically and mentally,” Amster adds.

Create a romantic vision board.

“Sit with your partner to create a joint vision for your future as a unit. What vacations might you want to take some day? What style homes do you prefer? What season would you want to get married? (wink)” suggests Dr. D. While you’re at it, put these visions into priority. Not only will this help you map out your future for you both to see, but it can give you an idea of when (and if) your partner wants to get engaged.

Share ring preferences.

If you’ll be on the receiving end of a sparkly new bauble, it’s totally okay—and actually appreciated—to let your partner know about your desires. According to the WeddingWire x Betches Brides study, 20% of respondents said they have already hinted at ring preferences, and 21% plan to do so ahead of the proposal. To break the ice, comment on a recently engaged loved one’s ring and what you like or dislike about it—or, like 1 in 4 of our survey respondents, just tell your partner outright what you want! While it’s okay to specify the style, setting, and stone cut of your preferred ring, you should not specify any size or cost requirements for your bauble. Let your partner figure out their budget and either trust them to choose the most appropriate or opt to shop for an engagement ring together.

Personalize an anniversary card.

On the day that you reflect back on your relationship—however many months of years you’ve spent together—Dr. D suggests reminding your partner how happy you are that the time is flying by, and showing him or her that you’re looking forward to many, many more. “Personalizing an anniversary card to reflect your readiness is a great way to let your intention be known without undue pressure,” she says. “You might hand-write, for example, ‘May we celebrate this love for all our lives, for I know I want this now and forever.’”

Enlist the help of a close family member or friend.

In Amster’s case, her mother-in-law was a huge advocate in getting her husband to get cracking on the engagement. “By enlisting someone your partner admires, be it family or close friend, they might be able to drop some hints that you want to get engaged on your behalf about how great you are as a couple, and they should seal the deal before they lose you,” she adds.

Believe in yourself.

“One of the most attractive attributes a person can have is confidence,” says Amster. “Show your partner that you believe in him or her and the relationship you are building together—your confidence will also make you stronger and more prepared for a life together.”