I took a scroll through Facebook for the first time in a while yesterday and was amused to discover that 90% of my newsfeed was dominated by engagement announcements. More specifically, the kind wherein a woman holds a newly adorned finger up to the camera with an expression of surprise and delight. As we wade further into engagement season, I thought it was worth resurfacing another, different narrative. If you missed this story when it was first published in April 2018, hold onto your hat. It’s a real charmer. -Haley
y roommate got engaged a few weeks ago, and though I’ve heard the story of how it happened a few times now, I would gladly listen to it again and again. I’ve always loved proposal stories, from the mundane to the heavily orchestrated, because the idea of one person asking another person to spend the rest of their lives together is loaded with an innate sense of drama. Even if the response is obviously going to be “yes,” there’s still a moment when the question hangs suspended in the air, waiting for an answer.
In most heterosexual relationships, the act of asking that question is still almost always carried out by the man. According to a 2014 Associated Press-WE tv poll, only about five percent of those currently married say the woman proposed, and the figure hasn’t climbed any higher among couples who wed within the last 10 years. Women have subverted numerous other cultural norms in recent history — getting married later, having kids later (if at all), earning more college degrees than men, demanding equal pay, running for president, coaching pro football — but the long-held tradition of men getting down on one knee and popping the question remains relatively unchallenged.
How does it feel to decide to do the proposing, as a woman, when it’s still somewhat uncharted territory? I put up a callout on my Instagram Stories asking to hear from women who had done, or were planning to do, exactly that. Eight women volunteered to share what it felt like, from popping the question to subverting an (oddly rigid) gender norm. Read their stories below.
Stephanie is 30 years old and lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Scott and I met when we were both working at a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. We remained strictly drinking buddies for a few years. Though I sometimes harbored weeklong crushes on him, he was in a serious relationship with a partner he loved and respected. The crushing was never reciprocated, and in the interest of staying friends with someone so special, I quelled my feelings and pursued several other ill-fated romances.
When his relationship ended, I offered moral support, a couch to crash on and emotional availability, but we both stayed in our own lanes. I wondered if I was missing my chance with him, but I didn’t want to throw away the friendship we had built in the name of a hot rebound. So, in deep denial, we started making these small, friendly gestures of platonic friendship. He brought me coffee at work. I brought him a tincture and cough drops when he was sick. Eventually, our “friendly” gestures got pretty dramatic. I painted his bedroom a fresh coat of spring green. He built me a shelf from reclaimed wood and stained it a beautiful blue. We had flowers delivered to each other at work. In retrospect, we were so obviously wooing each other. When we realized we were spending more time together than with the people we were hooking up with, we had a very serious and intentional talk about what it would mean to begin a relationship. After weighing out the pros and cons (including a discussion about his strict monogamy vs. my polyamory), we decided to take the plunge.
Six months in, I realized that I was having fantasies about raising children together. I thought about all the ways our relationship had surprised me by subverting all my previous conceptions about monogamy and all the ways we were better as individuals because of the strength we held together. I wanted to honor our love in a sacred and ancient way. In a hilarious, confused panic, I realized that meant I wanted to marry Scott.
It was sort of a mess. I was a nervous wreck. I walked around for a few weeks unsure of what to do or how to do it. Nothing seemed extra enough; everything was a screaming cliche. Finally gathering all my resolve, I asked him to meet me at a park one night after he finished work. I wore all pink, and I couldn’t hide my excitement. I felt like he would know the surprise as soon as he saw me.
His shift ended up running late; by the time he showed up, the park was closed and the gates locked for the night. I remember looking at him crumpled in the grass outside the locked gate and seeing his exhaustion painted across his face.
I would have given up then, but it had been too excruciating for me to walk around hiding this growing, all-encompassing secret from him for the past several weeks. I couldn’t do it anymore. I grabbed his hand and we hopped the fence, walking down to the side of the park that faced the Mississippi River. I sat in his lap, and we sat in silence for a short while, taking in the view. I silently told myself that I was born to do this. I whispered in his ear, “I have been thinking that I’d like to marry you.” Instantly, his whole demeanor changed. He was completely taken aback, since I had pretty firmly told him, again and again, that I would never marry anyone, ever, don’t bother asking. He asked me if I was sure, if it was something I definitely wanted, and when I confirmed, he accepted immediately.
Even though I was the one to propose, it felt like submitting to a norm rather than subverting one. I had long been a loud and proud opponent of marriage as a tool of a capitalist and patriarchal agenda. I had vowed never to marry, especially prior to the passing of the Marriage Equality Act. Even after its passing, as a queer femme, I still felt that marriage was assimilating to a problematic norm, rather than changing the norm itself. To be honest, I still feel that way, but things shifted for me with Scott. He has always honored and respected my queerness, and he was my first partner, queer or otherwise, who I felt truly saw me as just that — a partner. Our relationship appears traditionally heterosexual but is queer in its nature because I identify as such. Marriage, as I saw it, couldn’t change that; I believed, instead, that we could change marriage into something special and unique to us. I asked him to marry me because I knew he wouldn’t ask me himself out of respect for what he thought were my wishes at the time.
I think it’s important to evaluate why you’re proposing. Is it because you’ve been together a certain amount of time, and you think you should? Is it to make someone else happy, or to concede to your partner’s wishes? Is it because of familial pressure to settle down? All of that is bullshit, and those reasons will destroy a marriage (and your relationship with somebody you might actually care about!) before it’s even got one foot out the door. Your intuition is everything. If you don’t want to propose, don’t! If you’re into the idea of marriage and you know in your heart of hearts that the person you love deserves all the love you have to give, go for it! Don’t let gender norms stand in the way of your happiness.
Holly is 24 years old and lives in Seattle, Washington.
I started dating my fiance, Dexter, three years ago after being friends for six months and secretly falling in love with each other (well, I thought it was a secret). I was still very religious at the time, having grown up in the Deep South, and I was hesitant to date somebody who was an atheist. But our philosophies lined up perfectly, so I decided to give it a shot.
After living together happily for the last two years, I started to think about proposing. I had a growing desire to proclaim my commitment to him in front of our friends and family. As an adolescent, I coveted the label of being “married” (again, a Southern thing), but in my 20s, that impulse fell away. I just wanted to show Dexter how much I love him and sweep him off his feet with an epic proposal.
I proposed to Dexter this past March in front of a group of friends and strangers at the annual Used Board Game Auction in Seattle. We attend the auction every year and, as avid board-gamers, it is always a very romantic and special event for us. I coordinated ahead of time with the auctioneers, and toward the end of the auction, they announced that there was a special last-minute board-game entry from Holly (me), and then they held up a game box that I had taped with a sign that said, “Dexter, marry me?” I got down on one knee and presented the engagement ring, which was a custom game-themed ring from an artist on Etsy. Dexter was so surprised (he suspected nothing!) and immediately said yes.
So many people reacted in a positive and memorable way to our story. It helped that there was a video of the proposal that we posted on social media so people could see it for themselves. Tons of friends said that they cried watching the video and that they felt empowered and inspired by our subversion of gender roles. One of the perks of living in a progressive city like Seattle is that the reactions to me proposing instead of Dexter were 99% positive. I really appreciated that.
Even when I was religious and believed that gender roles were there for a reason (it’s painful to remember that version of myself), I began to notice that my interactions with Dexter were devoid of those stereotypes. At first, I was kind of confused about how that could be possible, because I had never met a guy who didn’t treat me “like a girl,” at least on some level. Now, I feel so incredibly lucky that I met him and got to experience a relationship that isn’t dictated by patriarchal norms. My proposal was perfectly “us” because it was a continuation of that. Over the last few years, I have come to believe that gender roles are a load of hooey, and I am glad I had the chance to demonstrate that to the world through my proposal!
There is no “best” way to do a proposal, but ultimately gender shouldn’t matter. My proposal was perfect for my relationship because Dexter loves being surprised and I love being the planner. I think if you look at you and your partner’s qualities, you can figure out pretty easily who would have more fun doing the proposal and who would have more fun being proposed to. The great thing about relationships in the modern age is how much freedom there is to have exactly the dynamic that you want.
I first met my fiance Ben about 10 years ago online. We were just internet friends until a couple years ago, when Ben told me he’d had a crush on me for a while. At the time, I was living in California and he was in Wisconsin. When things started to get more serious, we decided that we finally wanted to meet in person. So I booked my flight and we finally met in person. I stayed for a week and during that time, I met his family and some of his really close friends, and we made things official. I came back to stay with him for another stretch a few months later. After that visit, I went home knowing that when I graduated from school, I was going to move to Wisconsin to be with Ben.
I proposed at the beginning of a Rick Astley concert. My original plan was to propose during his favorite song, but every time I asked, he couldn’t tell me what his favorite song was. I figured I would just wing it and pick a convenient moment to pop the question. At the beginning of the show, the lights went off and they started blasting “Never Gonna Give You Up.” I knew that there was never going to be a more perfect moment to pop the question. It was really informal in terms of not having a ring to propose with or coordinating with the venue or anything. I just turned right around and asked him if he would marry me. He said yes, but I was worried he might not think it was an official proposal since it was so casual, so I said, “This is me officially asking you, this is when we get engaged,” just to make sure he knew that’s what was going on. It was so nerve-racking! Even though we had talked about getting married and I knew he would say yes, there was still a little part of me that thought, Oh god, what if he says no?! But I asked and he said yes, and I can’t put into words how happy I was. I was fitting in the word fiance into every conversation possible!
I seize every opportunity I can to subvert gender norms. Proposing was just another notch on my belt, and I loved it! It also just made sense to me as a person. I think I was always meant to be the one to propose whenever I found someone I wanted to marry. I didn’t want to keep waiting, either. Before the proposal, I told a lot of people that I was getting engaged, and many of them were confused. How did I know I was getting engaged? Did Ben and I already go pick out rings? The idea that I might be the one proposing didn’t even occur to them until I explained.
I think holding on to “the way things should be” can put undue pressures on people, and proposing should be fun! It’s going to be stressful no matter what, so just have as much fun as you can. Forget about who is “supposed” to propose, and let your creativity fly. There’s no shortage of fun ways to ask the person you love to spend the rest of their life sharing it with you, and sharing yours. It doesn’t always have to be down on one knee in a restaurant.
Ellen is 25 years old and lives in Petaluma, California.
My fiance Jake and I met in high school, but we were not high school sweethearts. We had gargantuan crushes on each other (and maybe even fell in love with each other), but one of us was always in a relationship, so the timing was always off. We were in the same yoga class (our school offered it as a substitute for P.E.) and when we would meditate with our eyes closed, I would sometimes stare at him. It was sort of a forbidden-love situation, and it was very exciting. We did “hook up” (the precise words that we used at the time) once, and our connection was so explosive that it nearly destroyed our friend group. It was messy, so we decided to leave it at that and take some time apart. We went to different colleges and didn’t talk for two years. The summer before my sophomore year of college, I threw a party for the sole purpose of seeing him, and we’ve been together ever since!
I work as a costume designer for theatrical productions, and I spend a lot of time in dark theaters watching the same play over and over. One day, during one of these dark, monotonous rehearsals, I started to think about him. We had to keep our phones off in the theater, so I couldn’t text him, and it was too dark to write down my thoughts, so my mind kind of went wild and began running in circles around him. It was strange because at that point, we had been together for nearly six years, but I started to feel giddy like you feel before a third date. The feeling started in that dark theater but stuck with me constantly for a whole month until it almost hurt. One day, I just realized the feeling was simply an ache to be closer to him — to be his family.
I didn’t want to plan the proposal too much, but I wanted us to be alone when it happened because it’s such an intimate moment. I decided to write down my thoughts on a little piece of paper and keep it with me at all times so I could ask whenever it felt right. Spontaneity is a big part of what I love about Jake and what I love about our relationship together.
Jake works as a vineyard manager for a winery in Sonoma, and every year, after the long, grueling harvest months, the winery treats its workers and respective partners to a retreat at a snowy cabin in Tahoe. Jake and I go to Tahoe a lot, and it is a very special place for us. One day, while everyone else was skiing, Jake and I wimped out and went on a hike instead. We picnicked in the snow and walked around the lake. Jake says it was very beautiful and relaxing, but all I remember was how sweaty and stiff I was beneath my five layers of snow gear. It hit me somewhere in the middle of the picnic that I either had to pop the question or come up with an excuse for why I was acting so bizarre.
Eventually, after our walk, as we were resting in the snow together right along the edge of the glistening lake, I pulled out my paper and regurgitated the worst speech I’ve ever given. I was more nervous to talk to him then than I was when I was crushing on him in high school. I hated that I couldn’t get the words out right, and I didn’t even like what I had written almost a month back, so eventually I just spit out the question, “Jake, will you marry me?” followed by the rapid caveat, “And if you’re not ready, it’s okay, I totally understand!”
He laughed at me and said, “Of course I’ll marry you, Ellen.” I was surprised by how I felt after it was over. It’s not as euphoric as it’s depicted in the movies. It’s more like…”Weird, what do we do now?” We ended up going to a brewery nearby, shared a couple of beers and stared at each other the way you look at someone you know you’ll be looking at until you die. I mean that in the softest way possible. He is my family. He has been my family for years. Proposing to him was essentially like asking, “Wait…you want to still laugh like this when we’re 85, right?”
My mom proposed to my dad. Monica proposed to Chandler. I honestly never thought about it as subverting the norm until I got congratulatory messages from people thanking me for being a feminist. That reaction (which was mostly from distant acquaintances) caught me off guard. While I am undoubtedly a feminist, I didn’t propose to Jake to make a statement. I don’t feel like a woman who proposed to a man; I am just a person who proposed to her partner. On the other hand, it did irk me when people asked if Jake was okay with me asking. Of course he was okay with it! If he weren’t, I wouldn’t marry him. In our relationship, I’m the loud, talkative, forward one, so when we told our families, they all said they were not surprised I did the asking.
As easy as it is to decide to propose to your partner, it can be terrifying to actually go through with it — not because of regrets or fears about the person saying no, but because of the same indescribable reasons it’s scary to talk to your crush. You just like them SO much it’s overwhelming. That is part of why I wanted a private proposal. You aren’t just hitting a milestone in your life; you aren’t asking just so you can take pretty photos together; you are asking someone to make a decision that lasts a lifetime. We don’t make many other decisions like that. If I were to go back in time, I’d maybe consider how strange it is to propose at your partner’s work retreat, but then again, telling that story makes us both laugh even more.
Jayne is 28 years old and lives in Saskatoon, Canada.
My boyfriend and I began dating three years ago (I was 25 and he was 26). At the time, I was staunchly opposed to the idea of marriage. Something in my millennial DNA told me to be different, to challenge patriarchal institutions and to rebel against the status quo. I didn’t really see the value of marriage (my own parents were divorced and my mom had been married three times, plus my boyfriend’s parents were also divorced and his dad had also been married three times). The marriage cards were pretty much stacked against us. I never had doubts about my partner or committing to our future together; rather, I had doubts about the institution and its performative nature.
I changed my mind this year thanks to a conversation I had with a brilliant Australian coworker that shifted my perspective on marriage. She simply said, “Marriage scared me, and because it scared me, it intrigued me.” I started thinking about marriage as a scary, complex, challenging, playful adventure, which really helped me open my mind to it in a way I’d never previously considered. That’s when I decided I wanted to propose.
I’m currently deciding between a super-intimate gesture or a massive family-and-friends surprise scavenger hunt. A few years ago, a friend of mine (the only other woman I know who proposed to her husband) got a bunch of friends together to orchestrate a surprise, and it turned out to be the perfect mix of intimate and communal. I like the idea of family and friends sharing in the joy of the moment, but I also appreciate meaningful moments alone. We are planning a camping trip to Colombia next month, so maybe that will be the right opportunity.
After spending most of my life blindly dismissing marriage, I’m starting to feel more confident about redefining the institution on my own terms. In my daily life as a family therapist, I already do a lot of proposing (I propose ideas, plans, ways of behaving, activities, etc.). Why wouldn’t I want to take a leading role in proposing my future? In proposing what I want? I like to be in control of my life, and I feel my best when I am. I don’t think people will be surprised to find out that I proposed. In fact, they might even be expecting it.
Taking this initiative is what feels good for me. I am not interested in dropping hints and waiting passively for my partner to make a move. That’s just not my way. I admit that I find myself judging others who do not share this perspective. For example, I currently have a friend who has been waiting to get “proposed to” for months. Every time she brings it up, I jokingly yell, “Just propose to him and get it over with!” I get super worked up about this because proposals are still packaged tightly around traditional gender roles and inequitable power distributions. To me, a marriage proposal is the accumulation of long conversations and intimate moments, of sharing ideas and hopes and worries, of realistic planning and fantastic dreaming. When I eventually propose to my partner, it will be on the foundation of all of this hard work we have done together.
I’ve worked hard at subverting heteronormative gender norms and expectations in other areas of my life. I think that proposing to my partner speaks to the equality and strength in our relationship. I like to challenge normative ways of being in the world, and proposing is just another way to disrupt people’s assumptions. I would love for more women to take up the practice of proposing because it sends a message that women deserve to have agency over their lives.
Couples ultimately know their relationship better than anyone else. If committing to marriage is something you are interested in, then having open and honest conversations about it is an important step. If you find yourself waiting around for someone to propose to you, maybe reflect on why that is and how you feel about it. Either way, you do you.
Monica is 34 years old and lives in Madrid, Spain.
Less than two months after my ex-husband left me suddenly for another women (after I moved across an ocean to his country, I might add), the furthest thing from my mind was entering into another serious relationship. I wanted to find a hot guy to rebound with — a bit of fun, companionship, sex, etc.
When I met Jordi, he seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. He lived in my neighborhood but not too close that I couldn’t avoid him later when the fling ended; he was 15 years my senior and he spoke almost no English. I figured things would never get serious between us and proclaimed to my friends that I had “taken a lover.”
To my surprise, we ended up really bonding and showing up for each other as we both went through life transitions. Our fling never ended, and after a while, I realized it wasn’t a fling anymore. I didn’t intend to find my soulmate so soon after my last relationship ended, but that’s exactly what happened. We kept getting closer, falling more in love and becoming better friends because we are honest and truly vulnerable with one another. We make room for the hard stuff (and both of us have hard stuff — illness, complex families, baggage from past relationships), but we also celebrate and encourage each other.
I had no doubt I wanted to marry him, and I was tired of calling him my boyfriend or partner or man friend or just “my man.” The truth is, even though my prior relationship ended badly, I loved being married. I loved the commitment and building something together and being family. So, one night as we were falling asleep, snuggling after our usual pillow talk whisperings, I asked him if he would marry me.
I knew even as the words came out of my mouth that he didn’t believe in marriage. We had discussed our feelings about it previously when he was helping me manage my divorce in another country and language that was not my own. As a Catalan born in 1969, he grew up under the Franco dictatorship wherein Catalan culture was heavily oppressed. Since marriage was heavily supported by the dictatorship, the institution was controlled by the state. Getting married was something you did for the government and for the Catholic church, not because you were in love with someone and wanted to celebrate it.
He actually laughed at me when I asked, but I wasn’t deterred. I told him how I felt about marriage, why I wanted him to be my husband, that I didn’t view it as a shackle or a government-controlled, antiquated religious institution. I told him how I imagined us getting married in our own way and that I was sure about him, and us, and I wanted to be his wife and commit to him. It took a few more months of talking about it — lots of dinner conversations, Sunday chats, beers, board games, whispering before we fell asleep — until he finally understood why I wanted it, and he said yes.
I sort of forced the whole “grand proposal” thing in my first marriage, and looking back, it wasn’t as meaningful as the bedtime whisperings between Jordi and me talking about how much we love each other, how we want to stay together forever and what makes sense for both of us. This time around, the decision to get married is not about a ring or a fairy-tale dream or posting on social media. It’s just about us being happy together.
Cristina is 31 years old and lives in Fortaleza, Brazil.
We met through a mutual friend of ours in his hometown in Brazil, Fortaleza. For the first year of our relationship, I was living and working at Porto Alegre, which meant there was more than 1,000 miles of distance between us.
I wasn’t planning on proposing. It was more a spur-of-the-moment thing. We were on a weekend trip celebrating his 30th birthday (I was 28 at the time). It was when we were messing around in bed at night that I asked him, “Do you want to marry me?” And he said yes! We both laughed and knew that it was a crazy idea, as we had only been together for three months at that time. We decided to keep it a secret, as we knew people would think we were rushing things. Eight months later, we told our families we were engaged and moving in together, and he gave me an engagement ring to make it official.
When I proposed, I didn’t think about the fact that it was atypical for me to be doing the asking as the woman. The only thing running through my mind was that I loved that man and wanted him by my side for every moment of my life. Later, when I told the story of our proposal to my female friends, I discovered that many of them had been the first to initiate the conversation about marriage with their boyfriends. It may not seem like a big deal, but living in a culture where women are expected to only dream about marriage and never bring it up, I’m glad that more and more women are feeling comfortable making the move.
My husband and I have never let archaic relationship values or timelines dictate how ours has progressed. For example, we decided to live together before getting married, which shocked his family. Our first anniversary is in June, and we do not have plans to have a baby now nor in the near future, despite pressure from his friends and his family. We don’t conform to what other people expect of us; we do what make us happy, and at our own pace.
When it comes to any relationship milestone, I think it’s important to follow your gut. When you are sure of something, the opinion of strangers won’t matter much, as you are doing what you want for you, not for them.
Victoria is 31 years old and lives in San Francisco, California.
I met my partner, Will, on my neighbor’s front stoop. We adopted a dog two months after we met and moved in together after four years of dating, which gives you a sense of our priorities. He wanted to move in together early on, but I pushed off cohabitation until I was confident that he and I were going to get married. Will is four years younger than I am (we met when he was 22), and at one point we briefly broke up because he wasn’t sure he wanted to get married. It took me a few years to get over the fear that he might leave again to find himself, and I certainly didn’t want to give up a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco for someone I wasn’t 100% sure I’d end up with.
The turning point for us came when my sister had a medical emergency in Ohio. Will was adamant that we needed to go to Columbus to help her, and throughout that very challenging time, Will was unwavering in his support. He did everything from help coordinate care to surprise me with ice cream when I had a particularly rough visit at the hospital. I realized that he was truly my partner, as opposed to just being my fun and charming boyfriend. On the terrible red-eye flight back to California, I told him I was ready to move in together.
After we broke up and reunited, he assured me time and time again that he wanted us to get married eventually. When we moved in together, I made it clear that marriage was an important condition for cohabitation. Living together, it turns out, was great. There was no more fighting over where we should sleep or who should walk the dog, but I was always wondering if he would ever actually propose. Living together had gone so smoothly, I worried that he wouldn’t see the need to get married.
The proposal was actually the result of an argument we had over dinner. We were eating at our neighborhood pizza joint, and I brought up a friend who was hoping her boyfriend would propose before her next birthday.
Will: That pisses me off!
Me: Yeah, he should propose.
Will: No, if she cares so much about getting engaged by a certain date, she should ask him.
Me: That’s stupid! It’s his responsibility.
Will: No, because if he proposes by her birthday, she’ll always wonder if he was coerced. And if he doesn’t do it, then he’s fucked up. Having a specific date is a lose-lose situation.
Me: Well, I always thought we’d be engaged by Christmas.
Will: Well, that’s the worst possible thing you could say.
I was furious (which he didn’t realize) and stewed over the conversation for the next 36 hours. Two days after we had our big argument, I woke up before him and watched as he slept next to me. He woke up to find me staring at him with a shit-eating grin on my face. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“Hey, want to marry me?” I blurted out. I hadn’t considered it at all before I said it. I was still wearing my anti-teeth-grinding mouthguard and a bright yellow sweatshirt from a place called Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. Needless to say, there was no ring.
“Yes!” he responded immediately. We were so happy. I wondered if I should take it back and try again after I brushed my teeth, but we ultimately agreed that the initial proposal was perfect the way it was.
The first day we were engaged, I had mixed feelings about being the one to propose. On the one hand, I felt like a badass; on the other hand, I was a little sad we didn’t have a big engagement story where he tied a ring to the dog’s collar and met me somewhere romantic (my secret fantasy). But over time, I’ve really come around. Neither of us is big on showmanship (jumbotron proposals make me want to curl into a ball). We care about building a good and meaningful life together, not about showing off how in love we are. Our engagement was romantic because it’s a reflection of our partnership and commitment to each other, regardless of what other people think of us.
The reaction to our engagement has been uniformly positive, though I never told my parents that I was the one to propose. I think of them as pretty traditional, and I thought they were better off not knowing (I seriously doubt either of them reads Man Repeller). My dad, a stoic Chinese man in his 60s, literally squealed when we called him with the news. I worried that he would be mad that Will didn’t ask for permission to get married, but he said he didn’t care.
I used to think our relationship was a series of moments where I was waiting for Will to grow up and join me in the next stage of life, but now that I’ve had time to reflect, I realize that I was the one who was afraid of moving forward together with our lives. I think that subconsciously, I wasn’t actually ready to get engaged until the morning I asked. Asking was a way of showing Will that I was ready to say yes to him.
If you’re thinking of proposing, consider what is important to your partner and what would make them happy. If they are into watching TV and sleeping late, proposing on the summit of a mountain at sunrise probably isn’t a great idea. Same with planning a big, flashy spectacle if your partner hates being in the spotlight. If you think it’s important to your partner to have photos from the engagement, hire a photographer to capture the moment. But really, just do something you think your partner would like — something that shows you put some thought into it — even if that means proposing in a mouthguard and bright yellow sweatshirt.
Collages by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.