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Legend has it that a woman so desperately wanted her boyfriend to propose that she wore paper cut-outs of diamond rings until he got the hint and gave her the real thing.
It's not that women have an innately desperate need to walk down the aisle, but at a certain point—one, two, ten years in—someone's going to ask, "Where is this thing going?" If you truly see your boyfriend as your future husband, you've got to let him know that it's time to pop the question. You can make like Charlotte in Sex and the City who told Harry, "Set the date! Set the date!" or take it down a notch and say: "I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Are we on the same page?"
Here are some tips culled from my new book, A Little Bit Married: How to Know When It's Time to Walk Down the Aisle or Out The Door about how real women got their boyfriends to propose.
Be direct. Mentioning that you'd like a chocolate wedding cake, you abhor pear-shaped diamonds or that October is the perfect month for a wedding is not going to render a proposal. In his unfortunately titled book, Why Men Marry Some and Not Others, John Molloy interviewed 2,500 couples about marriage proposals. "Many guys said that they went out with a girl for three to five years, and didn't propose because she never brought the subject up, or she did but by then it was too late," says Molloy. "Women drop hints. Guys don't get hints. You have to say it straight out," he advises.
Give him an ultimatum. After four years of dating, 29-year-old Gail reached her breaking point. So she told her boyfriend, "Propose to me by your friend's wedding this summer or you're going stag." He proposed exactly six months later. Keep in mind that ultimatum protocol says you must be prepared to follow through with your threat to leave if you don't get what you want.
Let him know you'll say yes. Beth, 29, let her man know she was ready for a ring. "After about two years, I told Alex, 'I want to marry you and you probably want to marry me, so let's talk about how to make that happen.' I couldn't really be in a state of unknown anymore." Although that one conversation did not culminate in an immediate proposal, Alex did propose a year later.
Set the tone early. After getting out of a year-long relationship that she thought was headed toward marriage, 29-year-old Diana decided that the next time, she'd take the direct approach. In the relationship that followed, Diana was clear from the outset: "I had been in a situation where I was timid and scared about bringing up the future, but I wanted to be very sure that we were on the same page. It's like the time you got on the wrong train and ended up in the middle of nowhere, so you want to double-check to make sure that you aren't going to end up there again." That guy is now her husband.
Take his temperature. This tip might not put a ring on your finger immediately, but could ultimately take the relationship from a little bit married to the real thing. Neil Chethik, the author of VoiceMale, and an expert on male psychology, suggests women ask action-oriented questions like, "What would you like to do to move our relationship forward?" instead of asking vague questions like, "What do you think about our relationship and its future?"
You could also take the courtroom approach. If your man isn't sure marriage is the way to go, lay out the evidence: Married men are healthier, see their income increase, and have more sex. Who can argue with that?