Proposing to your boyfriend can be sticky business, given the many centuries behind us of layered social and cultural tradition that dictate that it’s the male’s duty to court and eventually propose to the female.
In these modern times, however, many women feel the urge to pop the question and gain a commitment that they’re sure about. How do you sidestep one of civilization’s oldest rituals and get the man you want? Take a deep breath and get started!
Reach your own sense of comfort with making this move. There is no reason that a woman cannot make a proposal to a man these days. What may be holding you back is fairytale visions, concerns about the man’s feelings, and simply getting up the courage to ask something that can carry the risk of rejection.
- Be sure that he is “the one” and that you are totally ready for this commitment before launching in. How will this change your life and can you see yourself as being fulfilled with such changes?
Gauge your boyfriend’s chances of proposing to you. Before you do consider proposing, be alert to the possibility that he might be considering proposing. The following “about-to-propose” indicators might help your sleuthing:
- How long have you been together? The longer the time, the more likely he’s thinking of proposing.
- What does he say when you tell him you want to be with him forever? Notice his reactions. Or maybe he is the one doing all the talking about the future.
- Has he been acting a little nervous lately, and perhaps even showing interest in other people’s weddings? Perhaps he’s started saving up all of a sudden, or he’s even indulged you by asking what you’re reading when looking at bridal magazines in the store.
- Is he spending more time with you and less with his friends lately? Does he appear more nervous around your own friends?
- You’ve caught him looking in your jewelery box.
- He’s keen to spend time around your parents and family all of a sudden.
- He’s arranged an unexpected outing that is out of character. It could be the proposal!
If your boyfriend is highly responsive to your probing about spending your future together or he has initiated discussions about your future together, or the “indicators” seem to hint at a forthcoming proposal, you could decide to go ahead knowing you’re making the right decision. You could also choose to wait, since a proposal may be coming your way, but since the point of this article is not about waiting and about you doing the proposing, don’t feel obliged to wait. On the other hand, if he seems to be fairly non-committal about the future the two of you have together, you may need to look into this a little further, although a proposal is one certain means for getting commitment issues out into the open!
Be considerate of the emotional realities. While the modern approach to proposals has been turned on its head, the old-fashioned notions continue to linger. So, be understanding that there is a sense of “weirdness” for some men when it comes to a woman doing the proposing. Whether he’s the biggest jock or the biggest geek, a lot of men are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman assuming the role of the “proposer”. Ask yourself: Is your guy enlightened enough to handle this?
- Consider sounding out his possible reaction by creating a fictitious scenario in which a co-worker or a friend of a friend who is a female proposed to her now-husband. Tell him about it and gauge his reaction from the story by weaving in your opinion about what happened and eliciting his views with some careful questions or statements. Based on these reactions, you will have a better idea of his responsiveness.
- Be reassured by the fact that many men need and actually like this “nudge”, especially to change long-term dating or cohabiting into a marriage.
Consider if you’re enlightened enough to handle this. Gone will be your guy getting down on bended knee. Gone will be his attempts to compare the 4C’s when saving up for the engagement ring. And gone will be a romantic gesture at which you get to flutter and feel fussed over. Are you OK with this? Because if you’re not, stop right now!
- Will you be happy when other people keep asking things like “So where did he propose to you?” and “How did he propose to you?” You will have a lot of setting people straight on this, so be forewarned that a good sense of humor is much needed!
- If you’re the kind of woman who lives life large and isn’t worried about conventions and knows what she wants, this step will be a breeze to jump over. When you know what the right thing to do is, you know it, so get to it!
Be aware that talking a lot about future commitments will put your boyfriend’s relationship radar on alert. It might be gradually evident but anything smelling of long-term commitment is something most guys tend to pick up fairly soon. You may be getting vibes and signals about the appropriateness or otherwise of thinking long-term commitment for the pair of you by now, so let this be part of your guide as to the suitability or otherwise of proposing.
Prepare for the proposal. This is up to you but you’re now in the position of making it as romantic, wonderful, surprising, and loving as possible. Things to think about include:
- Where will you propose? His favorite running park, his contemplation spot overlooking the sea, out on a yacht, at a sit-down meal, or walking somewhere special together? Think about what places matter a lot to both of you, as well as a place where you’ll be sure that the two of you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
- Avoid doing anything that is out of character for you. Let your own personality traits shine through as a big part of the proposal, because that’s why he loves you.
- Take care to avoid simply switching how you think you’d like to be proposed to and planting that idea onto this proposal. He’s a man and flowers and intimate candlelit dinners may not be the best way to his heart on this occasion. Use what you know about your boyfriend to tailor a very special proposal.
- Are there any inside jokes you can rely on to help the proposal take on more meaning?
- The ring isn’t really an issue here. If he says yes, the two of you can now do the modern thing of choosing your engagement ring together. However, some women do provide a token ring, such as a beer tab, at the moment of proposal; the suitability of such a token depends on your own preferences and your knowledge of him.
Think about what you’re going to say. There is no standard proposal and no right or wrong way but it is important to express how much you love him and to identify specific things about him that cause you to want to spend the rest of your life with him. Talk about the future and how much it means to you to have him by your side in this future; paint the vision for him as you propose.
- Brief is good. He will probably be very surprised and the more you drag it out, the harder it gets for both of you!
Check your confidence again. If you’re not ready to do this, do some further investigation into what’s holding you back or confusing you and revisit the proposal when you feel more confident. Otherwise, it’s full steam ahead.
Propose. You are going to be nervous and there is always a risk of a negative or non-committal response. Be prepared for that and also have a gracious response in reply in that event. If you’ve read all the signs right though, he is likely to say yes.
- Let your heart guide you. While it’s a good idea to rehearse your proposal words beforehand, it’s also good to keep some of it spontaneous.
- Admit to your nervousness; this vulnerability is endearing and helps your boyfriend to understand just how much courage this is requiring from you.
Celebrate. If he says yes, have something special planned to celebrate the occasion such as opening a bottle of champagne or going somewhere that’s special to both of you.
- Maintain a mood of grace and acceptance if he says no or that he needs time to think it over. Putting on a turn or cold-shouldering him will only cause him to feel reassured that declining your proposal was the right thing to do. Tell him it’s OK to take more time but that your proposal definitely still stands.