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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA


What is engagement?

The definition of engagement in the English dictionary is "a formal agreement to get married." If the word is used in the context of marriage, it differs from the definition that is used for a speaking engagement. If someone says "engagement-engagement," they're likely referring to the commitment to get married to another person. When someone asks another person to marry them, and the person says yes, they are considered an engaged couple. Typically, when someone asks, "will you marry me?" they present an engagement ring with the question. There's no right or wrong way to go about engagement. An engagement will look different for every couple in a variety of ways. 

Why do people get engaged?

People get engaged because they ultimately want to get married. It is an exciting time, and if you've ever been around someone who's announced their engagement, you know that. Of course, when you want to marry someone, you need time to plan the wedding. That is what happens while a person is engaged. They may take this time to show off their engagement ring, pick a venue, and invite their friends and family to the upcoming ceremony. A couple may hire a wedding planner, decide on decorations, and choose wedding apparel. How elaborate a wedding will be is unique to every pair of fiancés. The same is true for engagement. Engagement may be an extravagant act for some, but others prefer a simpler approach. If you're hoping to get engaged to your partner, choose an approach that works for them. Make it something special, and make sure that it suits their personality. The moment you become engaged is a moment that both of you will remember forever, and it is a story that you'll talk about for the rest of your lives. 

How long do people stay engaged before they get married? 

The period of time that two people are engaged before they get married depends on the couple. Some people be engaged for a couple of months, whereas others stay engaged for a few years. It is all about what the couple wants and what each person needs. There are many factors that go into the length of an engagement or how long people wait to get married. Engagement and marriage are special, and neither needs to be rushed. Don't let societal pressure change your mind or make you go faster than you want to. This is up to you and your spouse. Take the time to prepare for married life and plan the wedding that you want. You can even talk to a therapist during this time to talk about your future as a married couple. 

I don't like the person my friend is engaged to - what do I do?

If your friend announced their engagement recently, and you don't like their partner, you may find yourself in a predicament. As much as you want to speak up, your friend has to make the ultimate decision. It is difficult to hold back your feelings when it comes to something like this, but you can't change a person's mind when it comes to love. However, if this person is in danger and you feel the need to intervene, it's essential to keep that person safe. Don't put them in the situation where they're at risk of future harm. 

What if you're having trouble in your engagement?

If you're having trouble in your relationship, with your fiancé, or with a spouse, it's important to seek relationship counseling. Relationship counseling can prepare you for marriage, help you work through problems in your relationship, and more. You can also talk to an individual counselor about any issues in your romantic partnership or family issues. Search the network of online counselors and therapists at ReGain.com and find someone who works for you. Speaking to a counselor about your engagement is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is a responsible way to ensure an emotionally healthy future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the meaning of engagement?

There are numerous definitions of engagement available, and it varies depending on the context in which the word is being used. The part of speech for the word engagement is noun and it is widely used to connote different things- e.g., when the word of the day is used in the context of marriage, the definition of engagement will be different to that which is used for speaking engagements, social or community engagement, formal engagement, etc. Engagement rings a bell as one of the most commonly used words, and in fact, in 2016, the word engagement (noun) was mentioned to be the word of the year because of how frequently it was being used, and it regularly bags the word of the day.

So, what is the definition of engagement and how can we use engagement in a sentence? The word engagement (noun) has been defined by different dictionaries, word of the day charts, and is also commonly used during word games. 

In the context of marriage, dictionary.com gives the definition of engagement as the act of engaging someone, or the state of being engaged; involvement. When someone says “engaged engaged,” they are most likely talking about the state of being engaged or the commitment to be married to someone. The Spanish-English dictionary translates this form of engagement as compromiso, which means to marry. This definition of engagement applies when a man and a woman have decided to get married, and most likely, an engagement ring has been given. Before this can happen, both parties have likely been in a dating relationship for a period of time and want to spend the rest of their lives together. After the “will you marry me?” question has been asked and the other person has given a yes, then will it be said that they are engaged.

Here are some other examples of the definition of engagement:

Word of the day: engagement, noun-

  • a meeting with someone at a certain time; appointment.

Sentence sample: I have a meeting with the council at five o’clock.

  • A pledge; an obligation or agreement:

His whole day seems to be taken up with social engagements.

  • Employment, or a period or post of employment, especially in the performing arts:

He got 5 speaking engagements in one week.

  • The act of beginning to fight someone, or a period of time of war:

A military engagement.

  • The act of promising that you intend to marry, or the state of having decided to get married:

Matt gave Lori an engagement ring at the party yesterday.


Some engagement synonyms include betrothal, espousal, match, appointment, battle, employment, assurance, work, meeting, combat.

Antonyms for engagement are breach, break, disagreement, disengagement, surrender.

To know more on the word of the day or learn how to use the word engagement in a sentence, or Spanish-English translation, you may do more checking through the dictionary, thesaurus, word finder or word of the day calendar.

How early is too early to get engaged?

There are really no definite laid-down rules of engagement as regards what is ‘normal’ when it comes to how long to date before popping the question or accepting an engagement ring. Truth is- a lengthy dating period does not guarantee successful marriage, neither does a short term dating period equal a doomed or unsuccessful relationship. However, it is important that before deciding to get engaged or accepting that engagement ring, you must make sure that you both have talked at length as regards the terms of engagement, ensure your core beliefs align, and take your ages, your future, career stage, and financial stability into careful consideration. 

Experts advise that in the first couple of months after dating starts, it may be too soon to get engaged as it is possible that the feelings you both have for one another may be lust and not love. Time is a great tester of emotions and intentions. As a lady, you should not be in a hurry or feel pressured to accept an engagement ring from the man if you are still having doubts or are unsure. As a man too, you must check and be sure that you really want to spend the rest of your life with this lady, before taking the step to engagement. Experts suggest that it is best to wait for about 3-6 months to be sure if the feelings you have are real or they are just sparks of lust which will soon fade. 

It is important that you both have rational and emotional feelings towards one another, and are both committed to making the relationship work. Again, there are no definite rules of engagement or a magic formula on timing; only you can know when you are ready to take things to the next level. When it feels right and the couple knows beyond any sort of doubts that they do not want to spend their lives with anyone else, they may as well throw an engagement party already! The length doesn’t really matter, it's more about the depth in which you love. If you both connect deeply and can communicate fully with each other, it is never too soon to get the engagement party set up, pop the question with an engagement ring in hand, and match into happily ever after.

What is the purpose of engagement?

As mentioned in the engagement definitions mentioned above, engagement is the mutual agreement of two people to get married. In the western world especially, engagement is a romantic and emotional occasion. The state of being engaged is no more no less the official announcement of two people’s intention to get married. How an engagement proposal happens differs depending on the people involved, although in most cases, the man in the relationship proposes with an engagement ring, popping the big question. He may choose to have an engagement party with friends and family around to witness it, or he may choose to have a private dinner engagement. 

Whichever way, the engagement is a public announcement to show people that they are now engaged to be married. The engagement period is more than showing off engagement rings, or being the center of attraction. It is usually the period that ushers in the wedding planning phase, and a lot goes into that- from picking the wedding date, to deciding on and reserving the location, sending invitation cards, planning the menu, shopping, picking out bride’s and her maids’ dresses, tuxes, etc. The engagement period is also usually a good time to undergo premarital counseling.

What do you call your boyfriend when you’re engaged?

Usually after engagement, the tone of the relationship and how you address yourselves tend to change. After the man has popped the question, the engagement ring’s been accepted, and you are now engaged to be married, you now refer to him not as ‘boyfriend’ but as fiancé, while he calls you ‘fiancée.’ 

How long should you be engaged?

Although usually, engagement rings the “marriage is happening soon” bell, how soon this would be majorly depends on the two people involved, as there are factors to consider. However, having a long engagement period can be a major luxury. It is important to relax and take on wedding arrangements at a slow and steady pace, leisurely and with less stress. Wedding preps come with its own measure of stress, so it is important to take your time not rush to start planning. Spend a few weeks enjoying the ‘just engaged’ feeling- you can even throw an engagement party to celebrate your new status.

On average, some couples wait about 13 months between when the engagement was announced to when the wedding happens, and this isn’t a bad time frame at all, if you can make it work. Wedding experts recommend waiting about three weeks before kicking off wedding plans. This allows you to revel in your engagement and enjoy the euphoria, but make sure it isn’t too long to make you lose momentum. When you feel you are ready to begin the wedding plans, take it one step at a time, so you don’t wear yourself out. Frequently make arrangements to meet to discuss your wedding plans and strategize, but don’t put yourselves under undue pressure.

Is it okay to be engaged for 3 years?

This, again, depends on you and your partner. Engagement comes with its own stress, and planning a wedding is even more stressful- incredibly so, and a lot of people may be tempted to shorten it and get the wedding over with fast. Despite the desire to rush off to the altar, it may be a smart thing to take things slow. It is perfectly okay to have long engagements, and there are a lot of reasons this is so. For what it’s worth, you have your whole life to be married, so there really isn’t a reason to rush into it. Also, wedding planning is stressful, so take it one step at a time. Enjoy your engagement period, you are only engaged for one very brief period (most of the time) in your entire life. After engagement, the marriage portion of your life- if you are lucky- would last longer than even the unmarried stage, so why rush? And oh, another reason to not rush into a wedding is that engagements do break (sorry to burst your happy bubbles), so you want to be sure this is for real. Get to know each other better and be sure you both are committed to building forever.

How do you get engaged?

It is always an exciting time when a couple starts contemplating marriage and begins to take steps in the direction of engagement. From the marital context of the definition of engagement, you get engaged after the engagement ring’s been accepted and you have publicly declared your intention to get married. Getting engaged, however, goes beyond planning a romantic dinner engagement, buying an engagement ring, getting on one knee, and popping the magical question. Before you get engaged, it is important to make sure that you both are actually ready for marriage and the responsibilities that come with it, and that you have compatible life goals. 

Is a fiancé still a boyfriend?

A fiancé is a man who is engaged to be married. It represents a special status; now, he is not just someone you are dating casually or who you are ‘testing the waters’ with, now, there is a commitment to get married. Ideally, people believe that as soon engagement has happened, the words fiancé and fiancée should replace boyfriend and girlfriend. That way, it shows the world that there is a deeper commitment now, and marriage is in view. Although it may not be exactly offensive to call your fiancé boyfriend, and the fact that it may take some people time to switch to the using fiancé/fiancée words, calling him that may not be appropriate, and could even make him doubt the legitimacy of your actual intentions, and wonder if you are not proud to let people know you are engaged to be married.

What not to do when you get engaged?

While we know engagement comes with a lot of excitement in the air and all, here are a few ‘rules of engagement’ and some things you should NOT do after getting engaged:

  • Posting the news on social media before you tell your closest family and friends. It is ideal that the people who are closest to you get to know of the big news first, and not that they get to know by stumbling on the news on your social media page.
  • Start planning right away. We know you are excited, so please, take time to enjoy being engaged and getting your thoughts together. Wedding plans come with an enormous measure of stress, so take it one step at a time.
  • Answering questions about your wedding party or guest list. People around you tend to get all excited and begin throwing questions all over the place. Do not feel pressured to give answers until you are ready.
  • Start booking vendors or wedding dress shopping. Relax darling. Hurrying into these processes will tire you out and may even make you end up with not-so-good choices.
  • Stressing out. We know it is easier said than done, but try to do it. You will feel anxious and may even develop cold feet at some point, but be deliberate about being as calm as possible through the process. You’ll be fine- we promise.

To learn more about engagement dos and don’ts and to help with the stress of wedding plan, talk to a marriage counselor like those at ReGain to guide you.

Why do couples get engaged?

Usually, people get engaged when they have decided to take their relationship to the next level which is marriage. Both parties have decided they want to get married and commit to spending their lives together as a married couple. Typically, the engagement period is the time to set the wedding plans in place, make arrangements to meet each other’s family officially, and also save towards the marriage. To learn more about engagement, you may need to talk to someone who specializes in marriage counseling.

What does a girl call her future husband?"

Usually, a girl who has been engaged to be married to a man would call her future husband ‘fiance,’ although in some cases, especially in less civilized climes, the word ‘betrothed’ is used to represent a prospective wife or husband.

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