* Two years into relationship best time to pop the question
* Perfect proposal combines element of surprise, deserted beach and expensive ring
* Women start losing patience after two years – half would dump a man who hadn’t proposed after five
* One in four say they’re ‘Proposal Pushers’ who’ll coerce their man into doing the deed, one in ten are POPOs – ‘Propose or Push Offs’
* Another quarter say marriage is still the ultimate commitment – ahead of having a child
As Valentine’s Day approaches, they’re the questions plaguing many a nervous boyfriend.
You want to ask her to marry you but how do you create the perfect proposal? And when is the right time to do it?
According to a major new courtship survey the ideal way combines old and new traditions and comes after you’ve spent exactly two happy years together.
The research, commissioned by leading drinks brand Lambrini found that one in four women think a man should be popping the question 24 months into the relationship, with just 15 per cent happy to wait three years.
If you haven’t got round to proposing after five years then don’t bother – almost half (49 per cent) of all those quizzed said if they had to wait that long they’d dump their other half and move on.
Another one in four women (27 per cent) think if you haven’t got engaged by that stage you’re probably never going to, while another one in four (26 per cent) think a man who hasn’t asked is a commitment-phobe.
When it came to popping the question, a deserted beach was the perfect place for proposal – named by almost one in four women (22 per cent) and although it might be considered corny by some, Valentine’s Day is still seen as the most appropriate time to ask for someone’s hand, along with a woman’s birthday (both chosen by nine per cent of women).
An element of surprise (32 per cent), a romantic setting (21 per cent) and getting down on one knee (20 per cent) were also considered crucial, while one in ten women wanted their partner to get their father’s permission.
Just one in ten said having an expensive ring was the important thing and only 30 per cent expected the man to have chosen it for them, with 62 per cent opting to select one together.
People had strong opinions about what makes for a happy engagement too.
Most people – 21 per cent – thought it was important to have had three previous partners before you settle down, while eight per cent said more than ten was more realistic.
Sharing three dates a week and at least two holidays were also essential according to a third of those quizzed, along with surviving a couple of family Christmases (37 per cent) and at least two romantic surprises a year (23 per cent).
But for those who are still waiting, taking a pro-active approach in the run up to Valentine’s Day could pay dividends.
According to the Lambrini Romance Report one in four women identified themselves as ‘Proposal Pushers’ – women who’ll actively engineer a proposal.
As well as dropping heavy hints, they admitted taking their other half to look at rings in the hope of prompting a declaration of love.
One in ten (11 per cent) were less accepting. Calling themselves the POPOs – Propose or Push Offs – they said they’d issue an ultimatum if a partner didn’t seem ready to commit, while one in twenty would end the relationship for good.
Another, more stoical one in ten (11 per cent) said they didn’t care either way.
And despite constant debates about the value of marriage, it seems that British women are still romantics at heart, seeing a proposal it as the ultimate statement of love.
One in four say it is the biggest commitment you can make – on a par with having a child together.
And although co-habiting is popular, it is still seen as less binding, with only 24 per cent saying it was the most important way to validate their relationship.
Even fewer people (5 per cent) thought renting together constituted any kind of commitment.
The research also identified potential problem areas that couples must discuss before deciding to get married.
Topping the list was the desire – or not – to have children, cited by 78 per cent of those quizzed as an essential discussion point.
Where to live (56 per cent), career plans (41 per cent), health issues (40 per cent) and joint bank accounts (38 per cent) were also significant, while almost a third (30 per cent) said ironing out any issues around pets was important too.
Reflecting the changing face of marriage, an overwhelming majority said the most important preparation for getting hitched was living together first.
Almost half of those asked (46 per cent) said a couple needed to co-habit before they tied the knot, followed by enjoying a loved-up ‘honeymoon period’ (46 per cent) and winning over the in-laws (41 per cent).
At the same time people had strong reasons for not marrying – one in five wouldn’t walk down the aisle with someone their family hated and one in eight wouldn’t tie the knot with someone their mates didn’t like.
Speaking about the Lambrini Romance Report findings, brand manager, Lorna Tweed, said: “As we get ready to embrace Valentine’s Day it seems that romance is very much alive and well in the UK.
“At the same time it’s clear that British women know what they want when it comes to relationships, proposals and marriage.
“They want love, surprises and a wedding – and they want it sooner rather than later.
“Women are looking for commitment and loyalty, partnerships that can stand the trials and tribulations of modern life; if a man can provide those then he’s in with a chance.”