How Long Should You Wait To Propose?

Last week was wedding week: I went down to Dallas this past weekend for my friend’s wedding. So, I’ve been thinking about marriage…

As more and more of my friends get into serious relationships, it’s interesting to see the ones that get married and the ones that stay together year after year without getting married. I wonder to myself—when will the more serious person in this relationship get fed up and either leave or present an ultimatum?

My friend that’s getting married in Dallas went down quickly. He met his fiancé at a wedding and they stayed in touch, long-distance, via MySpace. Eventually, they got together, she stayed in here in New York for a summer. During that summer (just 13 months after meeting), he proposed to her. We all saw it coming.

She is a huge Texas Longhorns fan. My friend had basically outgrown our three-guy bachelor pad and moved into a sophisticated studio. This studio began to take on more and more of his fiancé’s life: Texas Longhorn towels, pictures of the two of them everywhere, etc. So, just a little over a year in, the two were saturated with one another. He proposed, and moved to Dallas after growing up on the East Coast and living in NYC for over five years.


We watched with mixed emotions. We were happy for them, but us guys were not ready to grow up so fast. We thought things with them did accelerate quickly, but what do we know?

My mom, who is right about everything, often says: sometimes it happens quickly—you just know it’s right.

On the contrary, there are some friends I know that I can’t believe they’ve gone as long as they have with their girlfriends without proposing.

One of my co-workers has been with his girlfriend for over 10 years. They live together in an apartment in New York that they co-own. He says that she wants to get married, even though he does everything he can to avoid the subject.

A good friend of mine has been with his girlfriend for five years. She is ready to get married and he fires back by citing his friends (including the most single one of all—me) as measuring sticks. He tells her that we are in a late marriage group. It’s true—we’ve all been in the workforce for a while but the majority of my friends are not married. He tells her that when we start getting married, then he will get around to proposing.

I’ve never been in a relationship where marriage came up, so I wouldn’t know how long is too long or how short is too short. But, it is complicated. Women who think they are with the man they want to marry are mortgaging years of their lives following promises, or hoping that they will eventually marry the man.

It’s interesting that our society is so traditional, that we rarely see women proposing to men. It’s always the woman who needs space when she is proposed to when she’s not ready. It would be interesting to give the woman some power to propose and find out what her man would do if proposed to. The men that are not ready would probably run. It’s a shame that the only thing women can do when they are at wit’s end over marriage is not propose to the man, but to make an ultimatum. Suddenly she looks like the villain when she does this. But, to be honest, sometimes women need to take extreme measures to get answers.


There seems to be more pressure out there for women to settle down than men as well. When a guy gets married, his friends act like his life is ending. But a woman who is the last to get married starts to feel very pressured to get married.

How long do you think you would wait in a relationship until you gave up on the idea of marrying a guy? Is there a minimum amount of time you should be with someone before thinking about marriage—did my friend move too fast? Do you or any of your friends feel pressured to get married as more and more of your friends get married? How long is it before you tell a guy: marry me, or let me go?