Is a secret engagement normal?

I've been with my boyfriend/fiance for 4 years and he knows I want to get married and have kids. He said we should get engaged but keep it a secret until he's ready, I don't have a ring and he said we shouldn't get one until he's ready to let others know, but is that really being engaged? He also met my family recently and didn't socialize with them at all. He browses on his phone when we're with them instead of getting to know anyone. Are these red flags or am I overreacting?


You are not engaged. No this is not normal Yes these are red flags.

Common Sense

By now you should have a face rash from that red flag hitting you in the face. You have FINALLY begun to see the light and that your boyfriend (NOT YOUR FIANCE) has deep commitment issues. If you really want to get married and have kids, look elsewhere. He is not "READY" to make a commitment to you, get engaged, get married OR have babies. You know the expression: "Actions speak louder than words"???, well that should be tattooed on his forehead to remind you that you are waiting for nothing to happen. So, you are no victim here, you know. You do have a choice to stay with him until he decides he does not want a future with you or you can create your own happiness and future with a man who WANTS you, every inch of you and a life with you. Let me guess, you two live together and he is perfectly comfortable with that? Of course he is. Why wouldn't he be comfortable for a soft place to land while pretending to be engaged. You are a complete and total fool to eat his garbage talk. Wake up. Break up or Throw up. Pick one.


No. He is trying to appease you while still avoiding a commitment he doesn't want to make and usually a big red flag that he will never be ready. The exception is if you are very young and each have far more to achieve before marriage. In that case he very well could come through, just that he has the maturity to recognize some things can't be rushed.


He's told you in no uncertain terms that he's not ready to be engaged or married. You don't state how old you are, but if you've already spent 4 yrs. with him and he's not sure he wants to marry you, you have a big decision to make.


A ring isn't required to be engaged (or be married for that matter). Engaged is when you are ready to be married and are actively planning your wedding. If you're not ready to be married, you're not ready to be engaged either. If you've been together for 4 years, unless you're quite young and he isn't ready for marriage... you need to move on.


If you're adults, you should be prepared to talk about your relationship. These are indeed red flags.


"He said we should get engaged but keep it a secret until he's ready" Ready for WHAT exactly? If he's not ready to get married or even tell people he's getting married, there is no engagement. Your bf has no interest in getting to know or being polite to your family. That isn't the behavior of a man who intends to marry into the family. You're only 22. It's time to move on.


No it's not normal and certainly not after 4 years. He's either ready to be engaged or he isn't, he needs to make up his mind. I think the combo of things you describe (esp the lack of interest in your family) are very big red flags.


These are HUGE red flags. Unless you are teenagers, four years is more than long enough to determine whether or not you want to get married or not. Mature people don't have secret engagements or secret weddings. They are proud and excited to tell the world that they are ready to make a lifetime commitment. Any sane person would take the opportunity to get to know the family of the person they intend to marry. I think you need to wake up and see that this guy is stringing you along. He is dangling the carrot of marriage in front of you so you'll hang around. Time to call his bluff. Tell him you want an official engagement in the next month or you're gone. Then prepare to grieve the loss of this relationship and move on.


What's the purpose of an engagement if you're not actually ready to marry? It sounds like empty words to me, meant to appease you.


Red flags. Only children play "secret" games. Time to end things and move on.


how about just get engaged when you are both ready? why get engaged, keep it a secret, and then when HE'S ready, tell everyone you're engaged? sounds really shady! and no, this is not normal. do you see any other normal man doing this? nope. and he doesn't even have a ring? you can't get engaged without a ring. YOU CAN'T. you might as well just stay boyfriend and girlfriend. no ring, no engagement. it's like you never even got engaged anyways. it seems to me that he doesn't take marriage seriously. you sure you wanna marry this guy? or is it only because you've been with him for so long? you do know that with marriage means that he also marries your family, right? he doesn't even talk to your family? does your family like him? does he like them? are they even nice?? he doesn't care. final answer.


What you have is not engagement. Engagement is being known to be an engaged couple, is acting in accord as a single social unit, is regarding your future in-laws as almost family and being so viewed by them. So if it's a secret, then it's not an engagement. However there is a term for this sort of arrangement, as fans of 18th and 19th century literature will know. It was called "having an understanding" with someone. "He browses on his phone when we're with them instead of getting to know anyone." This would be rude behavior even these people were casual acquaintances. Mannerly guests exert themselves to be pleasant to those around them. Seems to me that if a person were seriously considering marriage, the person would be very eager to engage with the people who would be in-laws. I suspect that this lack if interest in getting to know your family indicates a lack of serious interest in marrying you. I urge you to dismiss any suggestion that you are engaged. Engagement is when you start the hard work of preparing for the lifetime responsibility of marriage. It means doing hard work like going over each others' spending, saving, and finances weekly. It means things like being part of each others' families. This guy obviously isn't interested in preparing for marriage, and until he gets interested in doing that hard work then talk of being engaged is just so much "honey sweetie please oh please I love you so pigeon" sweet talk to snow you.


Definitely red flags. The fact that he doesn’t even take the time to interact with your family members says something. He probably gives a bad impression to your family members because of that.


Are you in middle school?


I can think of reasons an engagement might be kept quiet, but none of them apply here. No announcement 'til he's ready, no ring? Hon, you're not engaged, and if you ever want to be married, I suggest you drop your boyfriend and start over.

Oh Boy!

Secret engagement is NOT normal. Yes, there are RED FLAGS all over the place.

Suzy Q

Of course it's real. An engagement is when two people mutually agree - explicitly - to get married at some time in the future. That doesn't mean this isn't a red flag.


these are red flags...


An "engagement" happens when a couple mutually agrees to get married, and is ready to announce it to everyone and start planning the wedding. A ring and a bended-knee proposal aren't required but many people like the tradition. "Dating" is what you do when you're with someone and think you might want to get married someday when you're ready. A ring, a bended-knee proposal, and/or the "fiance(e)" label doesn't mean squat if the couple isn't actually prepared to get married, and/or if the "engagement" is kept secret from everyone. So, no, you're not engaged and he's not your fiance. Because (a) he said he's not actually ready to get married, and (b) he wants to keep it a secret from people for God knows what reason. You're dating and he's your boyfriend. The end. Yes, if you want to include your family in your life post-marriage, then it's a red flag if your partner intentionally ignores them rather than making an effort to get to know them or at least being civil to them. Not to mention that it's *incredibly* rude for an adult to play on his phone during a social gathering rather than actually talk to people. He ought to know better. My gut reaction - he actually doesn't want to marry you, but the "secret engagement" thing is to get you off his back a while about bugging him to marry you. Either way, you need to have a serious conversation with him about whether or not he actually wants to marry you. If he needs more time, fine, but he needs to give you some kind of idea of when he MIGHT be ready or what he's waiting to accomplish before he feels like he could be ready. And from there you need to decide if you're willing to wait or not. It's reasonable for him to want to wait if you guys have no/crappy jobs, need to finish school, want to pay down debt and/or save some money, if you're young (dating for 4 years and expecting marriage is a LOT different when you're 19 vs when you're 25 or 30). If he pulls the "secret engagement" crap again to blow you off, firmly tell him, "No. We're either engaged or we're not. If you need more time to be ready, fine, but until then we're not engaged. When we're ready to tell our families and start planning a wedding, THEN we will be engaged. I'm not keeping a secret from my family like that. The ring doesn't matter to me, but your commitment does." And you need to firmly tell him that you are very upset that he ignores your family when you guys are with them. Again, he's a grown man and he should know that it's frightfully rude to play on his phone in a social gathering ... and if he won't knock it off after you tell him ONCE how rude you found it, then personally I'd find a new man who knows how to act right, rather than wasting your time trying to play Mommy to a man-child who won't grow the hell up. Does he try to isolate you from your family and friends? The fact that he wants to keep your "engagement" secret from your family, and ignores your family when you spend time with them, has me worried about this. If he's discouraging you from being with your family/friends and having contact with them ... if he has an attitude of "It's just you and me against the world/we can't trust anyone else/all you need is me" ... then all of that can be a sign of abuse. Abusers tend to try to isolate their victims from their support systems, so that if the victim wants to run away she feels she has nowhere to turn for help. If this is truly the case then you need to run for the hills NOW.


none official


If he really wanted to get engaged then he would want the world and his wife to know,keeping it secret makes me think he's just saying it to pacify you,and that's a definite red flag.


Not normal if it’s secret


Red flags big ones!

Tempting Apple

Iy you're engaged, shouldn't it be time to tell people you have 'found the one' and you are thinking of getting married?


No, it's not normal.

Pat D

If you have any sense of self worth, say "no" to a secret engagement. If you don't have a sense of self worth, see a therapist and work on getting one.

Doug Freyburger

It's not normal. Engagements are supposed to be public. He's playing you. He has no intention to marry you. This happens in both gender directions but it is more common for men to refuse to commit.


How old are you? If you are under 25, he is just no ready. If you started dating between 16 and 21, those years you are still growing and learning on how to be an adult. Your young and dumb years. If you are 25, this guy is telling you what you want. He is not planning on getting engaged to you. Just keeping you and making you not bring up marriage. You need to decide if that what you want.


Kind of depends on why he wants to keep it a secret. Engagement is supposed to be the 12 months prior to the wedding when you're doing the actual planning. To be engaged for years and years usually means once isn't serious about getting married. But without knowing your ages and your financials it's hard to say if you're really ready to get married or not.