Women think they know their partner inside and out, but many still find themselves stumped when it comes to knowing whether he is going to pop the question.
According to Femail’s sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, there are 22 signs all women can look out for if they want to know whether their boyfriend is ready to settle down and become a husband.
So read on to find out whether the man in your life is ready to get down on one knee…
Sex expert Tracey Cox says there are 22 signs your partner is ready to propose (file image)
In the 1970s, the average age of a British bride was 22.6 years old – now it’s 30.8 years old.
For single men, the average age is 32.7, up from 24.6 four decades ago.
We might be waiting longer to get married, but for some women it remains the ultimate and most highly desired commitment.
If you want to get married, how do you know if it’s ever going to happen?
According to reputable research on the topic, these are the most reliable signs your partner could drop to one knee any time soon.
The timing is right
In one reputable study, 81 per cent of men surveyed said they decided to get married because it was the right time of their life to settle down.
His age, finances, how many years he’s had independent of his parents – all of these factors are hugely important.
Most men need to feel established work wise and have a few years as a self-supporting adult before they’ll think about making things permanent.
Just because you’re ready to settle doesn’t mean that he is.
The majority of men surveyed for one study said they proposed because the timing was right
He knows you want to marry HIM not just be married
‘I’ve gone out with women who start talking about marriage after two months,’ says a 35-year-old male friend of mine.
‘It’s insulting. They don’t even know you yet, haven’t met all your friends or family.
‘How can they know they want to spend the rest of their lives with you? It’s obvious they just want the marriage and babies and don’t care who the guy is.’
This is a key factor: men are also wary of women who seem to want the wedding day more than the marriage.
He needs to know that you love him as an individual and don’t just see him as the provider of a lifestyle or as a baby maker.
You’re average looking
Men marry average looking women or ‘nice looking’ women far more often than the spectacularly beautiful or sexy ones.
They’re intimidating and make them feel insecure – they know other men will constantly be hitting on you and don’t want the hassle.
There’s mutual attraction
Looks matter: there’s no getting away from it.
There has to be some physical attraction for you to start dating in the first place but not only do they have to find you appealing, they need to know that you find them attractive.
Having said that, both sexes look for a different kind of attractiveness once they decide to settle.
Sexy gets bumped from top position, probably because fidelity is a must have quality for most of us (and we figure the sexy person will find it harder to stay faithful).
We see people more as a package when we’re thinking marriage: so personality and other attributes boost looks.
It’s also important that you ‘match’.
You both need to feel you’re roughly the same on the attractiveness scale (or other factors balance out the physical differences) and getting a good ‘deal’.
Your partner is more likely to propose if you get on well with his friends and family. File image
You trust him and he trusts you
Trust is a crucial element.
Jealousy on either side is tortuous, squeezing the life out of the very best relationships.
A healthy degree of trust on both sides makes the relationship easy to be in.
You’re easy to live with
‘Easy’ is a good word when it comes to marriage.
Women who are emotionally stable and not too hard work, not surprisingly, get more proposals than those who are ridiculously demanding and over dramatic.
Being thoughtful, reliable, dependable – he didn’t give a hoot about this stuff when he was swiping right on Tinder but they become very important when he’s ready to settle.
Tracey reveals the tell-tale signs that your partner is ready to propose
I’m not just talking about being able to hold your own in a discussion, I’m talking emotional intelligence as well.
Knowing how to handle his hot head mother or jealous sibling, being able to schmooze his boss.
Good social skills are a big bonus.
You make him a better man
It’s ironic that men complain of women trying to change them yet women who push them to become their best are the ones they marry.
This isn’t done through nagging or criticising but by encouragement; giving him the confidence to turn his dreams into a solid plan.
He loves you
Why wasn’t this first on the list?
Because it’s actually not the most important factor.
Even if he’s madly in love, if you don’t tick other boxes (like committed, trustworthy, kind), he won’t go there.
He needs to feel like he loves you but he also needs to feel he’s making the right choice on a lot of levels.
Men are a lot more pragmatic and practical than you think.
He says you’d make a great mother
This is a BIG indicator he’s put you in the ‘potential wife’ box.
Men also have a biological clock and wanting children is one reason why men marry. Even though they can father women much later than women can conceive them, there is still an age when it feels right to become a parent.
Most men want to be active fathers – do the whole kicking the football around thing.
A man who lets you know he’s keen to have children is highly likely to want to marry.
Having a relationship that is fun, happy and calm is crucial, according to Tracey
Sex is important but not as important as you think
So long as you’re having reasonably regular, reasonably satisfying sex, it’s looking good.
Most important of all is that your sex drives and desires match: he needs to be confident you’ll both want the same things further down the line.
Men are often wary of marrying women who want a lot of sex or sex that’s particularly adventurous and out there.
Again, this goes back to the fidelity issue: most of us are aware there will come a day when we’ll want to plonk on the sofa and watch a box set rather than have hot sex.
He wants to know you’ll be happy to do that when he’s at that stage.
On the flipside, he won’t marry a woman who only wants missionary and won’t give him oral sex, either.
Somewhere in the middle is ideal.
You let him take care of you
I’m not going down the ‘women need men to take care of them’ road – this is more about allowing him to do nice things for you.
Of course you can do everything for yourself but most people genuinely enjoy looking after other people – it’s not a gender thing, it’s a people thing.
We all want to be needed.
His friends tell you he’s different with you
‘I’ve never seen him this happy.’ ‘He’s different with you than his other girlfriends.’
Statements like this from close friends are significant.
You get on well with his friends and family
You know you’ve found the right person when everyone who loves you, loves them – and vice versa.
If you despise his sister and hate his mother and best friend, he’s unlikely to want to commit to a lifetime of arguments.
Your views on religion and politics are similar or they don’t really matter to either of you
The two of you will muddle along together much better if you agree on core principles and it also means there will be no interference from either parents when you do want to marry.
I have counselled many men whose parents make his life hell if he decides to marry outside their faith and, believe me, it takes its toll on the relationship.
It takes a strong man to defy his parents, especially if he loves and respects them and doesn’t want to hurt them.
It helps if your backgrounds are similar in all aspects because they create our moral codes and core belief systems.
If you’re from the same socioeconomic background, it’s very good news: couples with huge differences in class and income levels struggle much more.
Your Mum told you to date the ‘nice boy next door’ and it’s not a bad plan!
You both agree on how to parent future children
We generally bring up our children the way we were brought up.
If he doesn’t agree with how you were parented, he’ll be wary of how you’ll parent his child.
You insisted on commitment quite early into the relationship
We all know men who come out of a decades long relationship with one woman, refusing commitment, only to meet and marry someone else within a very short period of time.
One reason why men marry one woman and not the other is because she’s insisted on commitment early into the relationship.
The other woman was taken for granted and let him, the new love interest won’t allow it: he knows early on where he stands and respects her for it.
You keep him on his toes
In the same vein, he’s way more likely to commit if he knows you expect to be treated well and will walk if he doesn’t.
I’m not talking arrogance: just making it very clear to him what you will and won’t put up with.
You both want the same things
If you share the same goals and are willing to help him achieve his, the future together looks promising.
You’re on his side
Having a team mate and someone who always supports him is one of the main reasons why men get married.
He needs to know that you get him: you know all his quirks, all his wobbles and eccentricities, and love him anyway.
The old ‘My wife doesn’t understand me’ is actually a reason why lots of men divorce: he really does need to feel understood.
You work well together
You’re not up all night arguing, you don’t have recurring dramas that never get solved. He’s not hiding in the pub to avoid being near you, not spending his lunch hours with his ‘work wife’ trying to understand your behaviour.
Your relationship is happy and calm and you have lots of fun together.
It’s not forced
Pretending to be the woman he’ll want to marry will get you nowhere.
Men might not emote as much as women but they sense on an intuitive gut level when something is being forced.
If it doesn’t feel right, he won’t go there.
For more information about sex and relationships and for Tracey’s books and product range, visit traceycox.com.