If you've ever dreamed about getting engaged, you're not alone. A lot of us definitely think about the steps in potential (or real) relationships. You have certain timelines: meeting the friends, the family, going on a first vacation, moving in together, when should you get engaged, married, and have children. You might map it all out to see where it fits in with other parts of your life, like school and career. You imagine your dream proposal, exactly where and when it will take place. Your partner for sure knows what you're thinking, or if you want to be the one to propose, you have it mapped out yourself.
But life doesn't always work out according to a plan.
While you may want to get engaged after specific things have happened, maybe it happens in a different order for you than what you initially imagined for yourself. You may feel like you're ready very soon after you begin dating, or you and your partner may wait a few years to get engaged due to money or other factors.
Samantha Burns, relationship coach and author of Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, and relationship expert April Masini both advise couples to wait a year before getting engaged — but for different reasons.
"Typically one year is enough time for the love potion — a cocktail of neurochemicals, such as dopamine and oxytocin that influence our mood and behaviors, to wear off a bit and allow you to more practically evaluate whether your partner is a strong match for the long run," Burns tells Elite Daily. "It’s not good to make a long-term decision about engagement when you’re still in the honeymoon stage because your brain actually shuts down parts that are responsible for making critical judgments, and it’s easy to miss red flags and think your partner is perfect. You’re blinded by love, and once those hormones wear off and your brain is back to making more rational choices, you may start noticing some underlying deal breakers."
The year together also provides you with ample opportunity to have important conversations about your future, says Burns. Where do you want to live? How do you see your work-life balance working out? How do your financial habits mesh? Do you want pets? What makes you truly happy? These are all the kinds of questions you should be able to answer about yourself and with your partner before committing to a life with them. Because if you don't know the deep, important answers from your partner, you may find out later on unexpectedly that you actually don't like the answer that much at all.
"You shouldn’t get engaged unless your core values align, since compromising on what’s most important to you always leads to resentment," she says.
Masini recommends that a couple dates for about a year before getting engaged since "that's how long it takes to reach certain relationship milestones." She lists important ones before getting engaged, such as: meeting parents, getting to know your partner's friends and family, going through certain things like getting sick, handling money, and going on vacations together.
"Compatibility and shared relationship and lifestyle goals, coupled with respect, love and affection, are what make a relationship go the distance," Masini tells Elite Daily. "So if you can give your relationship some time — ideally at least a year — to get to know the aspects of yourselves and each other, you’re way more likely to have a successful engagement, marriage and life together."
Masini says that if your partner doesn't introduce you to their family, that is a red flag, and that their relationship with pretty much most other people in their lives is "telling."
"If you aren’t invited to extended family events, beware," Masini says. "Your partner’s relationship with his or her siblings, parents, kids, exes and other people are telling. If you’re dating someone who gets along with no one, get in line. You’re next. If you’re dating someone who gets along with everyone, you have less to worry about. If your partner’s friends and family include some shady characters, and he or she is close to them and respects them, watch out. There’s a character issue at stake here. You want to find someone who has a good character — and the company your partner keeps, is a clue as to that important factor."
So for the best results, AKA a likely long and happy marriage? Just make sure you know the person well enough that committing to them for life is thought-through well enough. Then you're all set to pop the question. Or answer it.
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