I want to propose to him

In cast you missed it, Love Letters teamed up with NPR's Life Kit podcast for a meta episode. Enjoy.

I'm a 23-year-old woman and have been dating a 30-year-old man for more than two years. I've been thinking about proposing to him.

We moved in at about the one year mark and only recently did I start bringing up my intention to marry him. I know that I probably started thinking about it before him, but now I'm scared to propose. I'm not sure how to tell when he might be ready, and I'm scared to bring it up again because I don't want him to feel pressured. I told him about four months ago, "I'm gonna marry you one day," and he said that sounded nice. I've mentioned it a few times since then. I asked him if it made him uncomfortable and he said yes, a little, but in a good way. He said it made him think about things he hadn't really thought about.

A month ago I bought a ring with a plan to propose on our third anniversary. I don't want to blindside him, so I brought it up the other night. I asked, "If I proposed in the future, would it be weird?" He said, "Not really, just like if I proposed to you in the future it wouldn't be. But it's not something I want right now." And now I don't know how to feel about his response. We've talked about getting a house together and being committed that way, but now I'm afraid that if I propose, he might say no. He has said he wants to spend his life with me, and I guess I don't understand the line between that and marriage. I've told him I don’t want to actually get married until I'm done with college, so there would be a few years of being engaged, but I don't know. I'm confused.

– The Proposal

Let's pause for a second. This man told you that an engagement is not something he wants right now.

You say you don't know how to feel about his response, but my advice is to listen to it. Believe it. If you have questions about what it means, ask. Do not ignore his very clear statement and offer him a ring. All that would say is that you're not paying attention.

I do love romantic proposals. I mean, they're fun to hear about. But they’re also a little meaningless if two people aren't on the same page about commitment. I like a proposal that comes after two people have already talked about their timeline and what marriage means to them. To me, it should be like ... the kind of awards ceremony where you’ve already been told you've won, but they call you to the stage to make a speech anyway.

Think about why you want to propose now and sit with your feelings for a bit. If it's because you're psyched about this relationship, try to enjoy it. If it's because you’re concerned about buying a house with someone without that commitment, have a conversation about what the next steps might mean. You can't hit the fast forward button, so try to concentrate on now. Remember that it's a partnership, so you should be making the big decisions together.

– Meredith

Readers? Propose? Married people, what conversations came before proposals?