There are few more stressful stages in a relationship as far as a man is concerned with the planning of a marriage proposal. The level of secrecy required on his part is such that you might think he’s having an affair, but he’s just trying to make sure that everything goes perfectly on the appointed day. No matter how covert he thinks he’s being, though, there are always signs that will give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on – you just have to know what to look for.
1. He starts talking about the future
You may have talked about a future together once or twice before, but if he’s suddenly the one initiating the conversations, that means two things: one, that he’s trying to gauge your commitment to the relationship so he can be sure that a proposal is the right next step to take, and two, that he’s trying to get both of you used to the idea of being together forever.
2. He starts having secret meetings
This is the big danger sign that, wrongly interpreted, could mean the end of your relationship rather than the start of an exciting new chapter in it. If he’s suddenly cagey about where he’s going and who he’s meeting, it’s easy to assume he’s having an affair. However, what he’s actually doing is going out for lunch with your sister to find out what sort of ring you’d like, or meeting your dad for a game of golf to ask his permission to propose to you.
The frequency of the meetings will be a giveaway – he shouldn’t need many of them to get the information he needs, and if he’s doing his job properly, you won’t even find out that he’s having any meetings anyway.
3. He becomes oddly protective of his phone
When he’s planning a proposal, he’ll probably be in regular contact with your siblings and both sets of parents as they try and help him figure out the finer details of his plan. With that in mind, he’ll be very protective of his phone so your suspicions aren’t aroused by seeing your sister’s name flash up on his screen, or four texts come in from his mum when they usually only speak once a week.
See what happens if he leaves his phone lying around and it suddenly beeps or buzzes – if he’s onto it like Kim Kardashian on a pair of Manolo Blahniks, that could be a key sign.
4. He stops spending as much
Engagement rings are obviously not cheap, so if he suddenly starts spending weekends at home, not splashing out on a new jacket and cooking rather than grabbing a KFC bucket on the way back from work, you might well assume that he’s saving to buy the ring he’s going to get down on one knee with.
5. One of your rings goes missing
If he’s planning on proposing with a ring (although 1 in 20 men propose without one, this is a mistake), he’ll need to know your ring size, and unless he’s a ring-sizing savant or incredibly lucky, he’ll need to find a way of getting it without arousing your suspicions.
Many men steal a ring that their girlfriend already has to get it sized either by a jeweller or themselves, but there might only be a small window of opportunity to suss this one out – he’ll want to be pretty speedy to make sure you don’t notice one of your rings is missing.
6. He has an elaborate or secret date planned
Unless he’s going to propose really casually (i.e. at the fish counter in Tesco) so that you don’t get any hint of what might be coming, an unusually elaborate date or a date where he won’t tell you exactly what you’re doing is a pretty good sign that he’s about to propose.
A fancy dinner in an expensive restaurant when it isn’t an anniversary or birthday, or a drive to an undisclosed location that turns out to be a hot air balloon ride centre is a dead giveaway, even if he’s been really good at concealing the unusual behaviour we’ve already covered.