Basic Principles: When is the Right Time to Propose?

It was the time of night when the Bernie the cockapoo and Fernando the chihuahua are curled up in their beds, Michelle is chopping vegetables for our little Chinese New Years Eve gathering, and I’m finishing up a couple work emails that I take a moment to reflect on how lucky I am. Lucky to be healthy. Lucky to be happy. Lucky to be surrounded by people I enjoy hanging with. Lucky in love.

Now look, I’m only 30. I have lived far less than half the average American male lifespan, but I feel like I’m overflowing with advice for young twenty-somethings trying to make their way in the world. I’ve been there. Done that. Seen myself, colleagues, friends, peers, and family celebrate success, trip and fall, witness marriages, deal with pain, excitement, depression, divorce, and elation. Life is full of it.

Along the way, I have developed a stupid simple way for someone to determine whether they are ready to “pop the question.” I implore you to take these basic principles with a grain of salt. My hope is that everyone finds a nugget of truth to keep in the back of their minds when going through the excitement and stress of the courting process. I present to you…the basic principles of the proposal.

Don’t propose before you and your intended turn 25

People change all through their lives, it’s a truism. Their tastes change, allergies change, likes and dislikes change, The years between 21 and 25 are when young people are entering the workforce, striking out on their own, figuring out how the world works, dating, getting hurt, feeling guilty about mistakes, and starting their career. After conferring with my friends, I believe 25 is the year of most incredible highs and lows. Make sure you know who you are before professing undying love to another.

Make sure you go through three life changes together before proposing

These life changes could be exciting changes like a job promotion, moving in together, marriage in the family, moving to a new city, changing jobs, or going to grad school. The changes could be negative like death or illness in the family, getting laid off, or having money issues. If you haven’t been through three highs and lows as a couple, there is no knowing how you would react. You’re marrying this person for life…you need to make sure they’ll hold your hand on the roller coaster.

Don’t propose before two years of dating has passed, and don’t wait until after three years

Before you propose remember: you will be spending the rest of your life with this person. Are you cool with that? Have you spent enough time with that person to verify they’re the one? I feel like two years of dating is enough to give people a true green or red light on the proposal front. Two years is needed to persevere through the three life changes detailed above, but also to enjoy dating life together. Once you’re married, you won’t be “just dating” ever again. Each stage of life is meant to be savored, so enjoy the dance. If you’re thinking about proposing out of fear your girlfriend or boyfriend might leave you, you both aren’t ready to make the lifetime commitment.

Just as proposing before two years have passed feels too soon, waiting until after three years of dating to propose if simply leading your intended on. C’mon man! If you don’t know whether they’re the one, shit or get off the pot! Respect their feelings…if they are looking to find a partner and you’re unsure after three years, you need to set them free. It’s not fair to either of you. An exception to this rule are those couples who started dating in college or their early twenties. If things are still rocking at three years, keep it going until you hit 25. At that point, feel free to drop the diamond at any point. There are also other exceptions I have seen like military and education intervention. You know the drill.

What I’m really trying to say is, enjoy every stage of your life and don’t rush things. Just because the Millennial generation isn’t getting married at the same clip of our predecessors doesn’t mean we have to eschew is altogether. And on the other hand, there is no rush to jump into a lifelong commitment. I’m just bringing a wee bit of science to the art of love.

Basic Principles: When is the Right Time to Propose?

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