In hook-up culture, a lot of people can instantly decide whether someone they’ve just met is a potential partner. The problem is that due to this conditioning, a lot of people have a problem recognizing a potential partner for life. Why? Well, because this vetting process requires slightly different criteria and questions.

A compatible sense of humor and great sex life are perfect examples of things that are important but are usually attributed far more value in these matters than they deserve. While having a great sex life is a huge plus, contrary to popular belief, it’s not a great foundation for a long-term relationship. So, before making this huge decision, what you need to do is ask a couple of different (more somber) questions to figure out if you’re finally ready to propose.

1. Why do you want to get engaged?

Being madly in love is a great thing, however, marriage is neither an emotion nor a relationship status – it’s a legal institution. People can spend their lives together in harmony even without getting married, the same as how they can have a horrible marriage. However, from a sentimental standpoint, it’s a massive statement and an even greater promise.  

It speaks volumes about being ready to commit to a single person for the rest of your life. Also, we live in a hook-up culture, which means that just being in a relationship no longer bears the same weight. Being ready to abandon all that and get fully immersed in your relationship is what it’s all about and there’s no better way to show this than to propose.

2. What is our life together going to be like?

One of the best tests of couple compatibility is to ask someone how they envision a perfect Sunday morning. Chances are that a person who sees it as a great hiking adventure and someone who prefers to stay in bed until 10 am, is not going to get along so splendidly. Sure, opposites attract and compromises are the key component of every relationship but having to make compromises all the time can be exhausting.

Even more importantly, you want someone who shares your common goals. Where do you want to live? How many children do you want to have? What will be the names of the children? Will you get a cat or a dog? Ideally, you want to propose to someone who gives the same answers as you do on these questions. Where do we see ourselves in 10 years? If you don’t give the same answer to this one, chances are that at least one partner might get disappointed.

3. Can you afford it all?

Now, a marriage is not supposed to be an expense, however, it does signify a more responsible stage in your life. For instance, if you plan to expand your family, your spouse will have to go on maternity leave, thus leaving you on a slightly reduced income. Where are you going to live? How are you going to pay rent? This also depends on the region that you’re currently situated in but relocation can always be an option.

For instance, rent in Phoenix, Arizona is a lot lower than that in NYC or LA. You see, a lot of people complain about the expensive tradition of getting your fiancée an engagement ring, however, this can be a sort of a financial check to see if you can fiscally sustain getting married at the moment. Getting an engagement ring in Phoenix, even a luxurious one, is a lot less expensive than buying a home in Phoenix. So, if you can’t afford the first, how would you handle the latter?

4. Have I been completely honest?

Everyone is trying to be more likable in front of the person that they like. The problem is that this creates an illusion of us being a different person, which means that our partner is falling in love with someone different than us. Once they find out the truth (and, given enough time, they most certainly will) how disappointed are they going to be? Everyone has some skeletons in the closet and while they can be concealed from a partner or a booty call, a partner is eventually going to stumble upon them.

Keep in mind that the same goes the other way around. Now, we’re not suggesting that the other person is lying or concealing something. What you need to ask yourself, is how serious would their secret have to be for it to become a serious problem. This is also a sort of checkpoint where you can see if your devotion is as great as you’ve expected it to be.

5. How are they doing under pressure?

Lastly, marriage (or life for that matter) is not all sunshine and roses. Bad things are going to happen and they’re going to happen more than once. So, you need to try and figure out how someone would act under pressure. The problem is that you might not be able to tell before things escalate.

Nonetheless, you could try asking some questions. For instance:

  • If you lost your income, would they stick by?
  • If you got sick, would they be ready to nurse you?
  • What about a family emergency that would require your undivided attention, perhaps even departure for the time being?

If you’re not sure about the answer to any of these questions… it might be better to wait around a bit until you are.

Wrap Up

This is a major decision and there’s nothing that can force your hand. Take as much time as you need and if you’re not completely sure, take a while more to think. If you’re not sure now, ask yourself whether you’re ever going to be sure. If the answer is no, it might be for the best to leave in time and start seeking your soulmate. However, if you’ve made all the above-listed questions and gotten an affirmative answer, you can rest reassured that your decision is not impulse-based.