Think You're on the Same Page? Think Again.

Sociologists who interviewed young couples living together found that the women mostly saw the arrangement as a step on the path to wedded bliss. The men didn’t view it that way [source: Smock et al].

Should You Propose?

Proposals are not one-size-fits-all. Some women dream of their boyfriend kneeling before them in a starlit gazebo flashing a nervous smile and a rock the size of Tennessee, while other ladies would rather have a no-frills discussion on the matter and pick out a ring themselves. Since you're reading this article, you're probably not too stuck on the traditional way of doing things. One important thing to ask yourself is: What are his dreams?

Don't take for granted that you "just know" how he feels, and don't assume he feels the same way you do. In this case, Mom's warnings about what happens when you make assumptions were on the mark. Talk to him about his views on marriage and get an idea of his timeline for his life. While his actions say a lot, you still can't assume you know all of his motivations. Don't make it an inquisition -- chat with him during times when you're both relaxed, such as during an evening stroll. Look at it not as a fishing expedition, but as a way to learn about the man you love. Tell him about your dreams for the future, and ask him about his. You can even bring up another couple as a way to start the conversation, such as, "Your aunt and uncle seem to have such a beautiful life together -- I want that someday." These conversations will give you a good idea where he stands on marriage and whether he feels ready [source: Meadow Stallings].

If the two of you are on the same page about marriage, find out how he feels about a nontraditional proposal. For example, tell him about a friend of yours who proposed to her boyfriend, or about a story you read online. He probably already celebrates your take-charge attitude, or he wouldn't be with you [source: Meadow Stallings].

But if he doesn't seem very enthusiastic about a woman proposing, you might want to think of a compromise. For example, you could say, "I'm asking you to marry me; you can still ask me whenever you want."

You're ready to propose. Now what? Read on for some ideas on popping the question.