So, you’re a woman dating a man. You’ve been together for a while. You know that you want to get married. But your boyfriend hasn’t asked you to marry him yet, and you want to know how you can get him to propose. Despite what you may have heard, the answer isn’t cooking an engagement chicken, flirting with other men, or making him 300 sandwiches. No, the answer is simple, though that doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, it can be really difficult. That answer? Talk to him about what you want out of the relationship and let him know that marriage is important to you.
Ideally, it’s best for couples — whether different-sex or same-sex — to discuss marriage throughout the relationship, so you know that you’re both on the same page with your long-term goals, Kayla Knopp, a clinical graduate student who studies facets of commitment in relationships at the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies, previously told Refinery29. Though it might feel scary, "there's other research that says that, even though [not talking about what you want] seems to protect you at the time, it actually doesn’t help in the long term, and you’re better off having those conversations," Knopp said.
It’s especially important to talk about marriage before you move in together. "They need to really know what that means to the both of them," Knopp said. Do you know you both want to get married? Do you have a shared timeline in mind? If you've never talked about marriage, it’s possible that your boyfriend doesn’t know that you want to get married, let alone that you're expecting a proposal. "At some point, you just have to be okay with what's important to you, and be okay with asking for what you need in a relationship," Knopp said. "And really know that you deserve to get what you want in a relationship, even if that means looking for somebody else who could fit that better."
If you have talked about marriage and you know you’re on the same page, but a proposal still hasn’t happened, you have a few options. First, you could propose to him yourself. While still uncommon, increasing numbers of women have proposed to men over the past few years as we’ve seen a slow but steady cultural shift in gender expectations. “As a woman, when you see your gay brother get proposed to by his longtime boyfriend, and then your lesbian BFF proposes to her girlfriend, I think it starts to rattle the cage of tradition and gender norms about who's supposed to propose,” Offbeat Bride founder Ariel Meadow Stallings previously told Refinery29. “If your gay bro can be proposed to, and your lesbian BFF can get down on one knee... then why wouldn't you be able to propose to your boyfriend?”
However, if you don’t want to be the one to pop the question, that’s okay — and it's also something you should tell your boyfriend. Ellen Lamont, an assistant professor of sociology at Appalachian State University who conducted a study on proposals, previously told Refinery29 that while men in opposite-sex couples are still overwhelmingly doing the proposing, women are increasingly involved "behind the scenes." "They were very active in the timing of the proposal, but that couldn't be public," Lamont said. This type of involvement might look like discussing the time of year or month you’d like to get engaged, going over ring styles together, planning a ring budget, or talking about what you’d like a proposal to look like (for example, do you think public proposals are romantic, or do they make you cringe?).
Ultimately, there are no tips or tricks that will convince someone to marry you, if they don’t want to make that commitment. “An engagement should be entered into willingly and mutually. If that isn't the case, and your partner isn't willing to change, it might be best to reconsider either what you want from the relationship and lower your expectations (but will you be happy with that?) or move on,” Erica Goldblatt, Doctor of Social Work, previously told Refinery29.
“Lasting long-term relationships require compromise from both parties. So, if your vision for the future includes marriage and children, but that’s just not as important to him, no amount of begging or waiting will get him on the same page,” Dr. Goldblatt said. “Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to stay with them.”
So talk about it. Have an honest conversation with your boyfriend about what marriage means to you, and the timeline you're thinking of. Ask him what he thinks, too, and listen with an open mind. Whether the conversation results in a proposal or not, you'll both have a better understanding of where you're coming from and what your relationship future will look like.