Stop asking me when I’m going to propose

Stop asking me when I'm going to propose | Joseph Burrows“So when are you going to propose?”

It happens whenever someone finds out I’ve been in a relationship with Rhianna for over 8 years. Actually, it’s been happening since I was 18, and we’d been in a relationships for around 3 years. It’s basically a form of greeting from my rarely seen relatives. It doesn’t matter whether it’s my family, friends, colleagues, or even total strangers – it feels like my relationships is everyone else’s business, plastered across the public domain.

Sure, the questions of “what’s taking so long?” should all be taken in jest, but who on earth made this an appropriate form of small talk? Do you think you’re being vaguely helpful by asking me, or that this dreadfully awkward small talk will get me closer to getting down on one knee? Like, ‘oh silly me, I forgot to propose again! Thank god you reminded me’.

You might think you’re being lovely, but you’re just forcing me to laugh and smile through gritted teeth whilst I think about how bloody annoying you are.¬†Sorry about it.

I know I’m a prime candidate for proposal question time – I’m in a long-term relationship, and I’m certainly not opposed to blowing my life savings on one huge party. But just because I tick the criteria, it doesn’t mean that I’m happy to share my private life with you.

I think the problem is expectations. When people know you’ve been in a relationship for a certain amount of time, they expect you to follow that traditional timeline that people have lived by for decades. You’ll get engaged, get married and have kids, and live happily ever after in domestic bliss. But here’s the thing – we’re in the 21st century now, and your timeline doesn’t work for everyone.

There could be so many reasons for why people don’t engaged. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Maybe they don’t like the idea of being engaged when they live in their parents’ basement. MAYBE they don’t actually want to get married. Who knows, but unless they’re actually having those conversations with you, it’s not your place to ask or pry.

If/when I do decide to propose, it will be because the time is right for us, whether we’ve been together 10 or 20 years. We’ll be happy, financially stable, we most definitely won’t be living in my parents’ basement like a hobbit, and it definitely won’t be because I feel constantly pressured into meeting other people’s standards and expectations.

  • Loved this post!! Because I’m in my 30s and my boyfriend is in my 40s, I get asked all the time why he’s not proposed, we’ve only been together for nearly 4 years, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really that long at all. It’s weird that it bothers other people more.

  • Josh @

    Great post! I get this question way too much but just brush it off now. People know it’s going to happen, I know where I’m going to do it but engagement rings aren’t cheap and I just want to wait until it’s right for me and her rather than other people’s expectations as you said!


  • Rebecca Ellis

    Its as if this question is the done thing now. My boyfriend and I are constantly being pestered about when we’re going to get engaged!

  • I avoided these types of questions by getting married before the point when it was just “expected,” but I totally relate to invasive, repetitive questions like this. Why do people think it’s their business? And what gets me the most, do they think they are being original, like this is the first time you’re hearing this question?! That would really grind my gears when I was a kid and people would ask my sister and me the same stupid questions about being twins over and over again, like “can your parents tell you apart?” and “who’s older?” Did they think this was new to us? Most likely they didn’t even think about it, which is the worst part. People need to just take three seconds before they open their mouths to think about what they’re about to say and how it sounds/feels to the person being asked.

    Danielle |

  • Great post! I feel like I should warn you though, as soon as you tie the knot you’ll be asked by everyone you’ve met, and even those you’ve never met before, when you’re going to have a baby. Seriously, my husband and I had been chatting with our local kebab man and causally mentioned we’d gotten married recently. The first words out of his mouth, after congratulations of course, were “Babies?” We barely even know this man (I mean, we know him more we should know our local kebab man…) and he felt it was appropriate to ask if we were going to have babies, because we’d just got married! It’s so frustrating, and I totally understand how you feel. No one has the right to ask that, it’s on your own time! x x

  • I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m 35 years old and, I swear, at every family function I’m asked why i’m still single and why I haven’t married or had kids yet. Seriously, it gets pretty old after the fifth time … I wish people would just shut up and realize how awkward they make singles feel when they do that.

  • I love this Joe! My other half and I get these questions at every family get together – It drives me crazy. I completely agree that in this day in age, a timeline doesn’t fit everyone X


  • AboutKari (Karolina)

    Hahaha this made me smile and cringe at the same time! I’m 23 and single and every damn time I see a relative the first question is: “So when are you finally find yourself a nice guy and start a family?” Even my own mother is looking to find me someone. I think that as long as you two are okay in the current step of your relationship, it’s no one’s business as to when, how and even if you decide to propose and get married.

  • I can relate to this post so much! When I was a teenager I tried to date and had two short but really awful relationships, so I went off to uni after it all, I decided I just wanted to be single and focus on my school work, my friends, and going out. People seemed to have SUCH a problem with this, I always had family members like ‘why hasn’t a nice boy asked you out yet’ as though there was something wrong with me. When I met my now boyfriend at 21, I was really cautious, and I only was willing to make it ‘official’ when I was completely sure I could trust him. I think dating and flings are great, but a full on relationship is so hard to commit to I think because there’s so much to lose if you really fall for them. I wish people could accept though that whether your single or in a relationship, what does it matter what stage youre at? Me and my boyfriend have been together for 3 years now and we still dont live together, but so what?

    Thanks for writing this!! Glad I’m not the only one to feel this way.
    Yasmin x | The Sweet Seven Five

  • Great post and I agree ! about 4 years ago I was at a wedding with my boyfriend (we’ve been engaged for a year now) and one of the guest ask him, in front of me, when he’ll proposed. I was mega embarrassed so my boyfriend and all I wanted it s too tell her that it was NOT HER BUSINESS . Some people can be so annoying …

  • Angharad Bishop

    I agree – I’m 27 and literally every time I see any form of family now their first words are either asking about when I’m going to be married or when there will be a baby on the way. I’m still young!!