Post # 1
Okay, I mentioned this in a comment on another thread and quite a few people seemed to find it helpful, so I thought I’d create a whole independent thread around it!
So….yeah, I’m kind of disheartened by how many new posters I see flooding through this site who seem to be waiting around for their SO to decide they’re “wife-worthy” and reward them with a ring. I’m not casting shade on couples who are on the same page regarding more traditional “proposal roles” (i.e. the male partner buying the ring, planning the proposal, getting down on one knee, it seeming relatively spontaneous, etc.), but just for the record, I just don’t think that in cases where romantic partners truly consider themselves equals one partner should be given any cause to think “He’s not proposing to me because he thinks I’m unworthy!” or “I’ve done all these things for him and he still won’t propose!” or “I have to behave PERFECTLY or he’ll use it as an excuse not to marry me!”. Getting engaged isn’t about “leveling up” or “being promoted” or even “getting what you deserve”. It’s not something that your partner uses as a tool to manipulate you into doing what they want. Taking this logic even further, it’s not something that you get to ask for and he gets to give you. It is not a present that your partner bestowes upon you out of obligation, a sense of occasion, or (hot take) even love. I know it can get confusing what with the emotional context/sparkly ring component and all, but it’s really not. It’s a verbal and emotional agreement to get married that you and your partner enter into equally, consensually, knowingly. It may result from love and loyalty and commitment and appreciation and all those nice things, but it is not payment or reimbursement for those things.
What it is is a step, a confirmed, agreed-upon (exciting!) step toward a shared life.
How is that not enough?
Post # 2
Well said. I’ve been through this. I didn’t realize it because by the time we got to engagement, my self-esteem had been whittled down slowly over the course of years.
I think it happens when there’s a power imbalance, either intentional on one partner’s part (with the other tacitly agreeing, as I did-) or unintentional –
and it doesn’t bode well for the future of the relationship.
I couldn’t have seen then what I see now, however; I needed a lot of therapy and a lot of healing and time before I could see that I didn’t need to scramble for crumbs someone was throwing me from time to time- when I could go elsewhere and focus on the ones in life who welcome me at the banquet table as an equal and valued guest!
so I’m not sure we can ever reach into the middle of someone’s lesson and save them the ending. I don’t know.
still, this is very well said, and might really help some who are searching for answers.
Post # 3
Totally agree. I can’t believe the number of women who post on here, worrying about whether or not their boyfriend will propose but feeling they can’t do any more than hint. Or the ones who just calmly accept when their boyfriend tells them they have to wait for him to decide… It doesn’t bode well for the future relationship
Post # 4
I totally agree! Very well said, I think a lot of the issues stem mostly from of 1 party wanting something NOW and the other party not ready/doesn’t want marriage, to the bees whom have these flags arise… it’s important to have those conversations so you can gauge whether or not to move forward with the relationship, based off what your needs are. I know couples that have been together 20 years and aren’t legally married, and it works for them cause it’s what they both wanted. There are going to be people that don’t want a marriage, don’t want a legal binding document ect… and you’ve got people that don’t want to get married within a couple years of being with someone, some people take a bit longer to get to that phase, that’s why it’s important to discuss these types of things so you can plan for yourself as well. If you are with someone and they say “I don’t see myself getting married for awhile” then that’s on you to decide if you can wait or not…. There is no shame in ending a relationship if the other person doesn’t have the same end goal as you when it comes to your relationships. There will always be someone else that does. Relationships are 2 people making mutual decisions and choices, not one person deciding when it’s time for a marriage or anything else for that matter.
Post # 5
Great comment. It’s baffling that highly accomplished women who have everything together in their lives can have such a blind spot on this issue. The subliminal messaging around engagement within society and in the media is awful. We all have to do better to raise boys and girls who understand partnership and teamwork rather than who has the upper hand and holds all the cards.
Post # 6
Oh, absolutely, I agree that a person has to be ready to hear something like this before they can actually hear it.
I consider myself to be a mature, grounded, liberated woman with a boatload of self-respect, and I’m in a stable, loving, respectful relationship with a wonderful, kind man who would never DREAM of witholding an engagement—but I got sucked into this wormhole myself a few years back, and I do underestimate the grip it can have on a person. For me it was a simple transference of association, which I think a lot of women internalize unconsciously: My culture dresses engagements/weddings up like birthday parties, with pretty dresses, flowers, cake and presents, so part of my brain just started down that track, seeing the wedding as a party and the ring as a nice pretty present instead of a symbol of a serious commitment. That kind of thinking was SO at odds with the reality of my relationship/my partner, that I started to feel really untethered, like I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize, and my discomfort with that was the only thing that woke me up. I personally think this is one of the things that leads to the “bridezilla” (hate that word) behavior we all find so unattractive.
Imbalance and inequality in a relationship definitely feeds into this dynamic between couples (I find the general assumption that the man is the one that gets to decide when to bestow this “gift” upon his female partner really problematic—to me it’s a screamingly obvious example of the imbalance of power between the sexes that our culture encourages), as does the idea that engagement is a product that can be bought/sold/given/received and marketed through taking advantage of that imbalance.
Post # 7
I’m older than most on here and am just about to have my 30th anniversary….but I don’t understand how women in 2021 are still waiting on a man to make the choice for them. And I extend that even to choosing & buying the engagement ring.
You are going to be combining your entire lives, including your finances to some extent. Why should it be his responsiblity to buy the ring?
Post # 8
I LOVE this. Thank you for this post. More women need to hear this.
Post # 9
Congrats on reaching 30 YEARS!! That is no small accomplishment—I hope I’ll get there myself one day. Yeah, my SO and I chose and bought the ring together, partly as a symbol that we are in this together, partly because it made financial sense, lol. He refers to it as “our” engagement ring, which I think is unbearably corny, but sweet :).
Post # 10
Okay but are we just going to pretend that women, on average, don’t value and want commitment more than men do? The stereotype of this dynamic exists because it’s extremely common. I’ve watched many friends who are now-happily married couples where the man was slower to come to the idea of marriage for whatever reason. It’s important to empower women to feel like they have more control over their destiny, but let’s be careful to not shame women for finding themselves in this common predicament.
Getting in before the influx of women proudly stating that their man wanted to settle down more than they did, which actually was my situation too, IME that’s the exception not the rule. Many women feel uncomfortable about feeling powerless and embarrassed to speak out, and they should be able to post here to gain realistic support and understanding.
Anyway just my 2c. Interesting post!
Post # 11
We confuse the ring – which essentially is a gift – with engagement/marriage – which is a contractual arrangement where you and your partner choose to get the government involved to bind yourself together.
I mean yes you do it for love and a shared future. But what it boils down to, inevitably, is a contractual committment.
That’s why it’s baffling to me that society waits for the man to ask. Like he somehow his input is worth more and we women just need to wait for him to be ready. When in reality it should be a conversation among equals. Both signatures are on the marriage license.
I picked my ring. DH bought it from our joint account. He surprised me with a proposal one random weekend in April 2018 – for him that was the traditional part he wanted to keep – the surprise proposal. Everything else was planned together. Because we are adults.
It’s one thing for you to be with someone who never wants to get married – and tell you that from the start – for whatever reason. It’s another for the man to drag women along, dangling the forbidden fruit like a badge of honour. It’s always “soon” or “after x happens” or worse, that one Bee who’s parter would only propose “once she lost some weight” – don’t ask me to find the thread, it was years ago but it was burned into my memory. It’s the subtle emotional beatdown that gets me. Wittling away at the trust they have in the opposite sex.
Those men aren’t men, they’re children.
Sorry. Rant over, lol.
EDIT: Found it
Post # 12
I think it’s interesting that people think the man has all the power because he’s doing the asking. It’s the woman who does the answering. So ultimately, isn’t it the woman with all the power in the decision?
Post # 13
I don’t know whether that’s actually true—as in I don’t know how one would measure such an assessment, and I personally believe that stereotypes have very little to do with real impulses/feelings, just the way they are interpreted by society—but I absolutely respect that for many couples, one or another might want marriage before/more than the other, regardless of sex or gender. It’s perfectly normal to not share a brain with your partner, lol. And I absolutely don’t want to shame women who are frustrated by the unknowns of their situation (that’s totally understandable and human!). I just want to posit that while realizing that you want
something before the other person is ready to fully commit to it can be perfectly natural and harmless (especially when both parties are aware of that disconnect), assuming that this means that you are then automatically in the position of “receiver” while the other person is the “giver” may not be the healthiest way of thinking about such a mutually impactful decision.
I mean, I think I see where you’re coming from….but isn’t that a kind of limited form of power when it depends entirely upon someone else first bringing up the subject so you can answer it? We get SO MANY posts on here that revolve around a woman trying to determine WHEN this blessed event is going to take place/how to GET her man to ask her. None of them seem all that empowered by the idea that they eventually get to say yes or no to a question that they have no way of knowing is even going to be asked.
Post # 14
The number of posts on this board that are basically “He won’t propose/keeps coming up with excuses” is so disheartening to me.
This would seem to indicate that lots of women have given the power over their lives to men, like it’s 1960.
I’m not so sure that men are reluctant to commit these days. I say this as the mother of a man in his late 20’s who couldn’t wait to settle down, have children, etc.
Post # 15
That’s only true if the man wants to marry and the woman doesn’t – or isn’t ready yet.
Judging by this forum, there are a lot of women who have let their partner know they are longing for marriage, but don’t feel able to do the asking themselves – or worse still, have been ordered by their partner NOT to do the asking, but to leave it to him.