When is the Right Time to Get Engaged?


Some guys wait years before they ask the one they love to get married. Some guys ask after a few months or a few weeks. But the real question isn’t how long should you date before getting engaged, but rather, how do you know when it’s the right time? -Isaac Sweeney

I’ve been married for eight years. We’re a happy couple with a 2-year-old son who has brought even more joy into our lives. You would think I could answer this seemingly simple question. But I don’t know the answer. We got engaged because we were in love, and that’s what people in love do. But that answer seems way too simple. I’ll explore more.

My wife, Melanie, and I dated for five years before we got married. We are in our 30s now, but we were in high school when we met. She was a senior and I was a junior. It was young love, and it was great. We weren’t as wild and crazy as most back then. In fact, I think we may have been boring.

young-coupleWe did things together, sure, but not always. Sometimes we just sat at home and watched a video. Yes, a video. Remember, we were in high school; DVDs didn’t hit prominence until we were in college. And staying home meant we were in a house with parents and siblings. Even if we were, by some strange chance, alone, we didn’t buy into those high school notions that we had to go out and be seen by our friends to be a real couple. We were just happy to be together.

Then came college. She went off to a school two hours away while I finished up my senior year of high school. Then, for a year of college, I went to a different school not far from my house. This was a tough time for Melanie and I. It consisted of juggling phone calls, weekend visits, jobs, family members and friends. After two years of a medium-distance relationship, I transferred to Melanie’s school; I was interested in literature and writing, and I could study that anywhere.

In my last year of college, we got engaged at her apartment in front of her roommates. It was in February 2001. We were married in June 2002. After I asked, knee and all, I soon found out that the engagement is a funny thing. It’s a promise of marriage, a contract. It’s your single friends begging you not to “cross over.” It’s monogamy (and worrying about monotony). It’s a diamond and a happy girl.

Engagement is also an important stepping stone in a relationship, a sort of testing of the waters. A lot of guys worry about how to pop the question, and a lot of women place a lot of emphasis on the when and where of the actual “Will you marry me?” I worried about popping the question, that’s for sure. I knew I was good at writing, so I wrote sweet sayings on 3×5 index cards and tied them together with string. When she got to the end, there was the engagement ring we had picked out together.

we're-engaegdBut why did I pop the question? How did I know it was the right time to get engaged? I still can’t put it into words. It’s a hard question to answer, especially for a guy who has a hard time putting his feelings out there. How did I know it was the right time to get engaged? Melanie and I also share an inquisitiveness for life, I couldn’t picture her not being there, and Melanie and I are emotionally compatible (most of the time), and I love learning about her every day.

I knew it was the right time to get engaged because, well, I just knew. I trusted the feeling; I trusted love. I was willing to take our relationship a step further for no other reason than it just felt comfortable, like a natural progression. Isn’t that enough?

Yes, it is hard to put into words, these reasons why we get engaged. Maybe it’s supposed to be hard to put into words. Maybe that’s why we buy a ring and get on a knee so we won’t need as many words. We worry so much about the act of popping the question because words, written or spoken, can’t adequately describe all the nervousness, the excitement, the joy and the love that comes with an engagement. In the end, we do the best we can, and we just hope she feels the same way.

It is also very cool for the woman to initiate the proposal. Check out our Propose Too blog.

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Comments (12)


  1. tshepho says:

    wow, that is an interesting story….i have a girl friend whom i’m being discourages to engage her because im 21 years old and next year il be doing me third years of which thats the year i wana b engaged to her…please advice me

  2. babyface says:

    I’m 19 my boyfriend is 25 we just got engaged this months,I’m a student detective constable and his an electrical engineer,we both independent and we love each other we’ve been dating for 2 years now…but I wanna know if on my age ist the right time 2 get engaged?

  3. Barbie says:

    What a beautiful story! May God bless you both. You did a great job by explaining your feeling and expectation. I really cried after reading your story.

    I’m 26 and my bf is 29. We’ve been together for 7 months but I feel like I know him since forever! He is from Korean and I’m European. His mom hates me because I’m not Asian, in the other hand my mom is completely fine with it. I love him a lot and I wish we were married already, however, I’m afraid his family and the culture difference will hit me hard and make me very sad. :-( never though I would feel bad like this for being white.

  4. sammie says:

    lovely information. in Africa, it is considered wrong to marry someone your age as a guy but i don’t seem to be catching interest in younger girls. is it the same in europe

  5. inlove says:

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 6months now and I love him with all my heart. Yes I have been having dreams of him proposing to me. But he has told me that he is not the marrying type. When I heard this news I was taken back and a little up set. But as time goes on I find my self just wanting to be with him and just to here his voice is like hearing an angle sing. So now I’m not all that worried if we get engaged I just want to be with him with or with out a ring.

  6. Jeff Watkins says:

    Hey y’all , help need some good advice . My girlfriend is 36 , i’m 45 , we’ve been dating 5 months now almost 5 1/2 & i’m planning on popping the question real soon . We’re very happy together etc but just wanna do this right . Any advice for this ol timer ?

  7. juliette says:

    First and foremost it should be about her. So find something that she loves to do for the setting. Then enroll friends/family to make it a surprise and personalize with elements of your love story and your potential future together.


  8. victor says:

    Pls advice me I’m 26 and my gf is 23,and we loved each other so much dat we can’t stay without each other,the problem is she wants to further her education while I set up my business,can we get engaged b4 all that?.

  9. juliette says:

    Hello Victor,
    There is no rule on when to get engaged. If you both love each over and wish to get engage now, you can do so and maybe hold off on the wedding until your girlfriend finishes school?

  10. nielle says:

    i felt happy after reading this. i’m in philippines and my boyfriend is in japan. we have our long distance relationship for 2 years already. and he’s been thinking that we should get engaged when he gets home in july. i’m not thinking about when he will be asking the question, but i’ve been worried that what if our relationship don’t work in the future. well i’m relieved after reading this because him thinking of asking me just addds up to the proofs i’ve felt that he love me truly. :)

  11. kadabby says:

    Is it ok for a woman to propose?

  12. severine says:


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