Definitely be prepared for him to want to graduate first. And then be prepared for him to settle into his job. And then be prepared to wait while things settle out financially.
My SO started bringing up rings/engagement a LOT about a month before he finished grad school. I think before then, feeling like a student and earning grad-student salaries (i.e. barely anything) made him feel unprepared for engagement and marriage. Fair enough. And then he started his new job and got extremely busy, learning the ropes and trying to make a good first impression by starting early, working late, going to social gatherings with workmates etc. Again, fair enough! He was busy enough and had enough stress on his plate as it is. Now that he feels more like a real adult (it doesn’t hurt that most of his workmates are married professionals, with some starting families) and earning a great paycheck, he is bringing up engagement again. However, we are still transitioning from University to the work place, and that ended up being a huge financial burden. We drained our savings to pay for the move, had to borrow money from our parents to make ends meet when he had to push back his start date (and first paycheck!) when his immigration paperwork was delayed. We’re still trying to recover and get on stable ground financially, so it’s in our best interest to wait again.
It all makes sense logically, but obviously I wish this wasn’t the case. Grad school definitely pushed back our engagement, as he’s mentioned that if he hadn’t gone to grad school we likely already would’ve been married at this point. That sucked to hear. But I love my SO and I try to remember the logic of why we’re waiting. We’re a team, and grad school was a huge investment in our team’s future–he’s made great contacts, has significantly higher earning potential and landed a job at an elite company all due to his grad degree. He’s set us and our future family up to be in a great position.
I’m in a similar position to you–I’ll be moving to be with him, to a city I’m not thrilled about, without a proposal. We’ve been together 4.5 years. But every time I have a bad waiting day, I just go through all of my logical reminders about why we’re not engaged and that helps when I’m feeling like maybe it’s personal (“does he not love me enough? am I not good enough? is he still not sure after all this time together? etc etc”).
If you feel like you need a deadline for yourself to feel more comfortable, then go for it. But just remember that guys loooove to have all their ducks in a row before moving forward in life. If he’s in grad school, that implies he is a very organized, logical and pragmatic person. Why should he start a new experiment if he’s not done with the one he’s still working on? Men tend to like to focus on one major task at a time. Engagement and weddings take up a lot of time, money, and energy, and in grad school all three of those resources are in short supply. He may not feel like a “real adult” yet since he’s still in school. Obviously people can and do get engaged during school, but I think most men would prefer to wait until things are more stable. Is he doing a PhD or master’s? Would you be able to wait until he’s graduated? Have you asked him about his feelings regarding engagement while he’s in school? I totally understand wanting to have the committment there; you’re feeling unhappy and unsettled in this new city, you feel like you sacrificed a lot for the relationship and he can’t even throw you a bone! I totally get it–an engagement would signify both a committment and also that you didn’t make those sacrifices in vain. So if you need to set an internal walk-date to feel like you have regained some control in this situation, then you should do it for your own sanity.
Also, I’m currently in the Mid West, so I totally sympathize with this winter. We had thunder snow yesterday…WTF?
Wishing you the best of luck!