Lance’s weekend roundup linked to this article by Steve Beale on what happens when a woman proposes. The author suggests that while women are responsible for the proposal (in the sense that, if he doesn’t propose, the woman’s gonna leave–and she lets him know this beforehand), men should actually be the ones doing the deed. Hot Alpha Female wrote her own post about how emasculating it is for the girl to propose to the guy. Lance agrees, though he refers to Steve Beale’s hypothesis as “female mind control,” which most girls would not only agree with but also feel pretty good about. I am in total agreement with everyone here that the guy needs to be the one to propose. In case my asserting it doesn’t convince you on its own, let me begin this entry with two of the worst “engagement stories” that I have ever heard.
Story #1: Girl Proposes to Self
This is fantastic. There is this chick that I used to work with who’s very female-power, in the worst kind of way. Apparently her dad was a worthless chode and bowed down to every whim her mother ever had, and so it’s been impressed upon her since an early age that this is what a marriage is. So after she’d been dating her boyfriend for a few years (I want to say three) she decided that the time had come. What’s a girl to do?
Well, she picked a ring out and special-ordered it from a jeweler and had them ship it to her:
Looks harmless, doesn’t it?
She’s got this big dinner out planned that she wants to take him to, but he just wants to run errands and go to Taco Bell. They get into a huge fight before they compromise and decide that they will run the errands and afterwards go to the nice dinner. She’s made reservations and they’re late, so they’re at the bar waiting for a table. She decides she can’t wait any longer and proposes to him, only to have the waiter walk up that very second. They look at each other dumbstruck before following the waiter to the table. Then the boyfriend says yes (what else could he say?) and they’re engaged.
This is the saddest story I’ve ever heard–doesn’t she want her husband to have male parts? Some sack, a dick, anything? Now they’re married and she’s starting to talk about kids. Who wants to bet she gets her way?
Story #2: Girl Proposes Ultimatum, Guy Proposes Breakup
This story is a little sadder (though not for me) because it’s about my BF’s last girlfriend. After they’d been dating a year, she started dropping hints. Her finger was “bare.” After a year the guy should be proposing. If he didn’t propose by the time he got his Master’s degree, she’d leave him. She needed more than anything on the entire planet to get married before she was 30. The BF did not find this campaign impressive, so she escalated. She began dropping hints to his relatives that he should shit or get off the pot. She asked him at a party in front of a bunch of his friends what he would say if she proposed that minute. She stressed that if he didn’t propose by the time he got his Master’s degree, she’d leave him.
Let’s just say he left her first, and it wasn’t pretty.
“Neigh! Ultimatums aren’t the answer!”–My pony, Nag
What We Can Learn From Their Mistakes
Women’s lib is all about having power, and I’m totally behind it–power to have whatever job you want, power to get educated, power to manage your own money, whatever. Screw tradition if it’s trying to hold you down. But the whole tradition thing takes on a new spin when it comes to the proposal. Hot Alpha Female makes the excellent point that if a guy hasn’t proposed, it’s because he genuinely hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether or not he wants to marry you. On the one hand, this may be hard news to hear. But OTOH: do you really want to catch him unawares, make him scared to say “no” or “let’s wait” because after all, he does love you, and enter into something as huge and important as marriage if both of you aren’t absolutely positive that’s what you want? Wouldn’t you rather be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wants to be with you forever?
One common objection is that since the guy doesn’t know if you want to be with him forever prior to the proposal, then why should you have to know that about him? Well, sorry girlfriends, but that is a bunch of crap that is spouted to hide control-freak insecure douchebaguette-ness and you need to jettison that kind of justification rhetoric right now. Jettison it for two reasons:
1) You know you’ve been dropping hints/exerting mind control/making it perfectly obvious that you would say yes if he asked anyway. We’re all onto you, so this objection is nullified.
2) If some wuss actually proposes to you with no idea what you will say, then you need to ditch the insecure douche immediately. Seriously.
My own preference within a serious relationship is that both parties should know that you’re headed for marriage. You should have talked about it–more than once. But the proposal itself? Leave it to him. Don’t drop hints. Don’t give deadlines. Don’t take matters into your own hands.
Honey’s Words of Wisdom: Enjoy your life for what it is, now. Enjoy it for what it becomes, later.
Marriage isn’t something that you need to rush into. Date for two or three years. Don’t apply pressure. Enjoy each other’s company and figure out if this is someone you want to be married to. In case you haven’t realized, marriage isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. I cannot imagine anything worse than going through your life with the wrong person. And in case you have a “well in that case, I’ll just try again” attitude: statistics show that more second and third marriages end than first marriages, and we all know the grim statistics of first marriages. It behooves you to get it right the first time. I’ve never lived with anyone, and we’re not moved in full-time yet (though we will be soon) because I wanted to be sure before I took such a marriage-bound step. He’s lived with a couple girlfriends, and one of his biggest regrets is ever having lived with someone he wasn’t sure he could marry.
Finally: If You’re Not on the Marriage Track, Leave Those Who Are Alone
I am going to punch the next person who asks me when the BF and I are going to get engaged in the face. Equally as insidious and far less acknowledged then those girlfriends who pester is everyone else in the universe who pesters. They’re well meaning, they’re guys and girls, and they need to stop. I can’t remember if I ever asked any of my now-married friends when they were going to get engaged, but now that I know how annoying it is I sincerely hope that I had better sense.
Guess what? There are many factors in a relationship. Some of them, like whether your friend is happy, are valid concerns and you should definitely stay apprised of the sitch. Others, like life plans, finances, and living arrangements, are none of your f-ing business. Don’t intrude.
In happy news, the BF and I are meeting regularly with a financial planner to come up with a plan to pay off student loan debt, credit card debt, and yes–start saving for a wedding. But the proposal itself? I have no idea. We’re on the same page in our relationship, but how and when that particular moment goes down is up to him, and there’s a certain freedom for me in that.