“When you imagine a proposal, you probably think of all the clichés – getting down on one knee, hiding the ring in a dessert, and, of course, the shock and awe of a well-planned surprise.
While that’s a lovely picture, it’s not exactly healthy for an engagement to be a total surprise to your partner, says Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist.
“What I say to my clients is don’t assume in life, don’t assume things. And in this case, I think it’s really important because you don’t want to assume your significant other feels exactly what you feel and that they also want to get engaged and married,” she explains.
Luckily, the majority of couples seem to be heeding this advice; according to a report from Zola, 94% of surveyed couples discussed marriage before getting engaged. Many actually regular conversations on the topic, with 30% talking about it at least once a week and another 43% talking about it at least once a month.
Of course, recognizing the importance of the pre-proposal talk is just one part of the equation. Here’s a brief guide to when and how to navigate this crucial conversation.
1. Timing is Everything
While it’s never too early in a relationship to communicate what you’re looking for, it’s probably best not to bring up marriage on the first date (though there are always exceptions!).
Dr. Thomas says six months is a good rule of thumb for most couples to at least start bringing up the possibility of marriage.”