Ask Mary Jo: Taking the next step in a relationship & mixed messages

Hi Mary Jo,

I am currently in a serious relationship, which I think is going to advance to engagement. How do I know if I’m ready for that next step? Tayla


Although there are no guarantees in marriage, here are 6 predictors that you are ready to get married:

  1. You want to be married and share your life with this person. You’ve weighed the pros and cons, and you cannot imagine yourself sharing your life with anyone else.  
  2. You’ve lived your own life and are ready. You’ve had enough time to do the things only a single person can do and are emotionally and financially mature enough to take on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a family.
  3. You trust your partner exclusively. Trust has less to do with how long you’ve been together than one’s character. Marriage requires complete trust.
  4. You can resolve conflict well.  You’re ready for marriage when you can fight fairly and resolve issues without pushing them under the rug or getting mad at your partner.
  5. You don’t want to change your partner to suit your expectations. Marriage is not going to heal a rift between the two of you or solve personal issues you may have. Make sure you’re a whole person before marriage.
  6. Your family and closest friends like your partner and believe your partner loves you.  When someone loves you, they show it in every action. If you’re parents are concerned with your partner’s level of commitment, proceed with caution.

Hey Mary Jo,

I’m in the early stages of dating this girl, and I’m getting a lot of mixed signals. My friends tell me mixed signals mean no. I don’t know what to do. What do you think?



As a general rule, people show you who they are by the way they behave. Mixed messages mean that she isn’t comfortable being transparent or real. That’s a red flag for trust issues, so it’s in your best interest to confront her with what you see. Be upfront about it; don’t ghost her or avoid answering her texts. Break-ups are tough, but your character shines through when you’re honest about what you feel and respect her enough to tell her face-to-face that the relationship isn’t working out for you.