Not Ready to Put a Ring on It? Here’s How to Deal
Maybe your Instagram feed is flooded with engagement announcements. Maybe your family has been prying about when you’re going to pop the question. It could also be that you’ve been living with your partner for a couple of years, and at this point, you sense that they’re getting impatient.
Regardless of what everyone else is doing, the question is: Are you ready to propose?
Naturally, it can be pretty distressing to deal with constant pressure to get down on one knee if you aren’t sure you’re ready to commit just yet. For what it’s worth, you’re not alone. It’s totally normal to feel as such if put in a situation like this.
“Once we have been with someone for a significant period of time (a year or more) and we have professed love for our partner, there simply exists a ‘next step’ expectation,” explains Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of “The Kurre and Klapow Show.” “The pressure comes when the outside world is ready for a man to propose because he has fulfilled all of the cultural requirements. The more the disconnect between individual’s readiness and the outside cues for marriage — the more pressure the man will feel.”
At the end of the day, who cares what anyone else thinks. This is a huge decision, and even if other people want you to tie the knot, it’s not their life. If you don’t feel ready, don’t do it.
“The added variable for most men is the issue of timing,” says Dr. Gary Brown, a Los Angeles dating and couples therapist. “A man can be very much in love with his girlfriend, but for whatever reason — like finances, his career or something else — the timing doesn’t feel right, and he isn’t quite ready to propose.”
Feel like we’re talking about you? Below, you’ll find some expert-approved tips on how to deal with both the internal and external proposal pressure .
Check in With Yourself
Doing a full-on assessment is the first step you should take in trying to figure out what the right move is.
“Pressure is a warning sign that you are not as ready as others are,” explains Klapow. “Ask yourself: Do you want to be married at all? Is it merely a timing issue? Or are you having second thoughts about the person (or about the process of marriage)?”
Taking the time to answer these questions can help you get a clearer sense of what’s making you hesitant in the first place. Coming to terms with the answers will allow you to have a more honest conversation with your partner, too.
Let Your Partner Know What You’re Feeling
After you’ve done some soul searching on your own, it’s time to talk to your partner — that is, if you feel the pressure is coming from them. If the pressure is mainly coming from other sources, and you and your SO have already established that getting engaged isn’t on the horizon, you probably don’t need to have this conversation.
However, if it seems your partner is getting restless waiting for a ring, you’ll want to sit ‘em down before things become unbearable.
“Be compassionate and honest,” says Brown. “The pressure will subside when you feel in control of your decisions and your life.”
Evaluate Your Expectations as a Couple
During the discussion with your partner, be sure to re-assess both of your long-term relationship goals and expectations. Not only should you be clear on whether marriage is a milestone that’s important to both of you, but you also need to clarify a realistic timeline on which you would like to cross it.
“Be very honest if you have some reservations about the idea of a future with your partner,” says Brown. “They deserve the truth. Be upfront about what you are looking for in terms of marriage, as well as a timeline. Are you on the same page, or is there some sense of urgency?”
Even if you’re not ready for marriage right now, you can still use this opportunity to bring up your intentions for the future.
Stick to Your Guns
While it may be tempting to give into something you don’t want just so it’ll go away, always remain true to your own needs and desires.
“Don’t deny the feeling of pressure, and don’t write it off as cold feet,” notes Klapow. “Take it as a warning sign. Ignoring it can put you in a place where you are doing what you don’t want to do. And getting married when you don’t want to is a recipe for divorce.”
Pressure, whether internal or external, can make it exceedingly difficult to tune into your own feelings, and ultimately, make smart decisions based on them. While the pressure to propose may be a bit irritating — or even distressing — at times, if you want a happy marriage, it’s absolutely important to wait until you’re ready.
Timing is everything, and when it comes to putting a ring on it, you and your prospective spouse-to-be will be grateful that you waited for that perfect moment.
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