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Things to consider before having the engagement talk with him


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Things to consider before having the engagement talk with him

  1. 1. Things To Consider Before Having The Engagement TalkWith HimIt makes perfect sense to me the immense pressure many people feel to be engaged orto be married when they are in a committed, monogamous relationship. Our society ispumped full of messages that tell us when you find “the one,” you just know and thereSHOULD be a proposal within 1-2 years. Movies, television, music, magazines, andeven social media propagates how great it is to be married and how soon it shouldhappen and how simple it is; just love each other. To add insult to injury, it may seem asthough you cannot log onto any social networking site without seeing a newly engagedstatus, or wedding pictures. Understandably then, when you are in love and you’vebeen dating someone for 12+ months (maybe even shorter), you may find yourselfanxiously waiting for a proposal. So, what do you do?First, I would suggest you reflect on a few things:Explore within yourself why you feel it’s time to make the next step and becomeengaged – is it pressure from family or friends? Pressure from your socialenvironment? Are you following a timeline you constructed years ago?What does being engaged mean to you? – How does being engaged look differentlythan being in a committed, monogamous relationship? How does/will a proposal changeyour relationship?How do you know you are ready to be engaged?– How and when did you reach thedecision you were ready for the next step in your relationship? How did you know whenyou were not ready to be engaged?Once you’ve given these ideas some thought and you know why you want to beengaged and what it means to you and how it will change your relationship, you aremore ready to have a conversation with your partner. You may fear talking to yourpartner because you don’t want to risk coming off as nagging or desperate. However,when you know what you want and why, and you are able to express it in a direct,respectful, open, and honest way, it decreases your chances of being perceived asclingy or controlling. Here are some tips:Avoid “shoulds” – If you want to talk to your partner about your expectations forengagement, “should” does not belong in the conversation. “Shoulds” are subjective,guilt-producing statements that are ideas not facts. For example, “We’ve been datingfor two years; we should be engaged by now!” “If you love me, you should propose.”When you use “shoulds” you may be perceived as angry and resentful. You back youpartner into a corner through
  2. 2. Avoid comparison– Logically it may make sense for you to highlight examples offriends or family members who have gotten engaged or married and iterate that theystarted dating when (or maybe after) you and your partner started dating. Although youmay feel justified in doing this because it makes you feel validated, it is not veryeffective. No one wants to be compared to someone else, nor do they want theirrelationship to be compared. Every relationship is different and proceeds at its ownpace. It is self-defeating to try and compare yourself to others; it will only leave youfeeling disappointed.Be open and honest – Explain to your partner why you want to be engaged and what itmeans to you. Talk about your feelings. You set the pace for the discussion. If you areaggressive in broaching the topic, likely your partner will become defensive. It is alwaysokay to respectfully say how you feel, even if it does not match how your partner feels.Be prepared for the answer you do not want – Once you have a respectful and openconversation about when and why you want to be engaged, your partner still may not beready. Your partner may need more time, more financial security, more maturity, etc. Ifyou ask your partner to respect you and your feelings when you discuss wanting to beengaged, it is only fair that you respect your partner and his/her feelings if he/she doesnot want to be engaged at this time. Although it is very hard to hear that someone is notready to be engaged when you are ready, explore the reasons why your partner feelsthe way he/she does. Listen to your partner’s feelings; ask questions. If your questionscome from a place of curiosity and wanting to understand, your partner is more apt toopen up, feel safe, and engage in these kinds of conversations more often.The infamous ultimatumWhether or not you exercise the above tips, if you’re still not engaged or you are notsure when (or if) it will happen, you may resort to an ultimatum. My advice: tread withextreme caution. Ultimatums send very clear messages: do __X___, or __Y___ willhappen. In most cases, ultimatums are not regarded as endearing, loving,understanding, or respectful. Ultimatums produce a lose-lose situation and oftenbecome self-fulfilling prophecies. You want to get married to your partner but you don’tthink a proposal will ever come, so you give an ultimatum, your partner feels pressured,controlled, uncomfortable, your partner cannot uphold his/her end of the dealàthus,you’ve solidified a proposal will never come. I will venture to say that most people wanta proposal that comes from a place of unconditional love, commitment, loyalty,dedication, and understanding. It’s hard to get a proposal that comes from that placewhen an ultimatum is the exact opposite of unconditional love, commitment, loyalty,dedication and understanding. Ultimatums are conditional; ‘If you want me, you must dothis.’If you are feeling that the only way you can stay in a relationship is by taking the nextstep, by all means let your partner know this. Again, respectfully tell you partner how itmakes you feel to not be engaged and what it would mean to you to be
  3. 3. Actively listen to your partner’s thoughts and feelings about why a proposal has nothappened. If you do not feel that his/her thoughts/feelings about a future proposal arefair, or reasonable, it may be time to evaluate whether the relationship should continue.Therapy is always a safe place to talk about these intense and emotional topics.Therapy may be beneficial in helping you and your partner build and refine skills toeffectively communicate thoughts and feelings about your relationship. A therapistcannot decide for you whether or not a relationship should progress, however, atherapist may be able to help you learn new skills or tools to make that decision.About the authorTara Gogolinski, MS, LGMFT is a Licensed Graduate Marriage and Family Therapistand owner of Life & Love: Couple and Family Therapy, LLC. She provides therapy forindividuals, couples, families and children in Crofton, Maryland. Tara is trained as atherapeutic grief mentor, is certified in providing Play Therapy techniques with childrenand families, and is also a certified facilitator of the Prepare Enrich program for couples.To know more about Tara visit her website, For more free tips and insights on what really attracts a man, how tomake yourself irresistible to him and how to capture his heart, click the link below.