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Marriage Proposal Gone Bad

By December 28, 2010 - 4:35pm

So I've been a "relatioship expert" for many years - How did I manage to completely screw up my long-awaited engagement?

My boyfriend and I were at a restaurant the other night when he quite casually mentions that we should go pick out an engagement ring for me. What? Did I somehow miss the BIG question? We hadn’t even talked about getting married at all, and he didn’t ask me how I felt about it prior to that statement. I was caught off guard and didn’t reply at all - feeling mixed emotions and couldn't even make eye contact at that point. We changed the subject to irrelevant small talk, and then when we got home I told him that I wished he wouldn’t have brought up such a personal and momentous subject like that in a crowded restaurant. We should have had a private talk - not in a public place like that. Furthermore, he didn't even ASK me!

I was disappointed in his lack of creativity and offhand manner in posing such a significant suggestion. All of my girlish dreams were shattered as one anticipates this special ‘moment of lifetime’ to be magical and romantic. Rather than feeling excited that he finally had the nerve to bring up the idea of marriage, I was sad and angry. I can’t explain exactly why I felt that way in that moment about such a beautiful possiblity. Maybe I was angry because of the way he went about it, and sad because I really don’t want to have to answer that question right now. But it wasn't even a question, rather an assumption on his part.

After we got home, we talked for hours and came to no resolve - then coldly went to bed but I couldn't sleep at all. I feel differently now that I did 6 months ago, as I’ve since given up on the idea of getting married again. At one point it was very important to me and I wanted to more than anything – but whenever I briefly mentioned the idea, my boyfriend was "in no hurry". I thought he might have asked me when we were in Malibu over the summer, but he did not. After that, I’d convinced myself that I didn’t want to be married, and it didn’t even matter to me at all anymore.

We got through Christmas without discussing it at all, and now I don't know what to do or what I even want. We've lived together for over 2 years now, have a house and a dog together - but I feel like the whole idea of marriage (or at least the getting engaged part) is tainted for us.

By January 6, 2011 - 6:55pm


I just want to say that I think both Susan and Alison have given you some wonderful insight.

Here's something I don't share with a lot of people because I really don't think it matters--- legally, my husband is not really my husband! We have been together for 6 years, share a beautiful home, and have two kids together. Due to finances, we haven't made the actual act of marriage a priority. But to me, he's my husband and I am his wife. As a matter of fact, aside from the people that new us before we were together (close friends and family) everybody else thinks we are legally married (including Susan and Alison :))

It's something that he kind of started and I didn't put a stop to it. Why? Because a marriage is much more than a ring, proposal, or ceremony-- it's a shared life. We talk about what our wedding will be like one day and we share our likes on rings and visit stores together (to me, this is fun!). I understand where you are coming from, given the illusion of the perfect proposal and wedding we are introduced to as kids (THANKS DISNEY!) All jokes aside though, give the man a break. Clearly he wants you to be his wife and there should be no greater compliment than to know that the man you love wants to be with you forever.

Best Wishes!


January 6, 2011 - 6:55pm
By January 6, 2011 - 5:43pm

I agree with Susan's great advice, and wanted to add my reaction after I read your story.

My first reaction: I had the same type of non-proposal, but we had been living together for so long, and talked about it often, that it was actually a convenience thing to pick out a ring together...I wanted to pick it out, and HE wanted me to pick it out as well! We also didn't have the fairytale wedding...it was a fun, exciting elopement, and the only thing we didn't get to do was a honeymoon (not enough time off of work). Life really gets in the way of the fairytale! :-) I'm still waiting on the honeymoon; we both want to travel sometime when we can get away (we just had our second baby).

My other observation: I'm not sure how to describe this, as I've done this to my husband too...but he would call it "testing him". And, whenever I test my husband...he fails. Sounds like this may be the case with your boyfriend, too. You tested to see if he would propose to you this summer. He failed. You tested him by asking if he was interested in marriage. He said he's not in a hurry--fail again. It even sounds like you were testing him during Christmas. Strike three.

The clue that made me think you have been testing him: "After that [the above "tests"], I’d convinced myself that I didn’t want to be married, and it didn’t even matter to me at all anymore."

Well, that's not exactly true, right? It obviously matters to you a lot, or you would have had a different emotional reaction. Additionally, you would not be indirectly blaming him for causing you to have to change your entire view of marriage.

You sound like you have a very high emotional and relational intellect, and you may need to dig deep into your fears and figure out: why you are testing him, what you are afraid of, why you are blaming him for changing your mind about marriage, why you are really upset with him (besides him being "lame" about his non-proposal; I agree that is irritating, and you are taking it as him making assumptions...perhaps you are making assumptions about HIS assumptions?).

The best relationship advice I have ever received: Be Curious. Don't assume (or assume your assumptions are wrong) and ask questions.

I wish you the best, and look forward to hearing from you again!

January 6, 2011 - 5:43pm
By HERWriter Guide January 6, 2011 - 12:26pm

Hi Alluragrace

I'm sorry the big moment was ruined for you but I think a lot of this is due to unreasonable cultural expectations and the "fairytale" ending we've all been promised.

I never had those fairy tales, I did chose a ring I would like (or at least the style) and that was before the proposal. I didn't mind at all. One day my then boyfriend said he'd love to take me to look at some rings and I said "sure!" and we did and that was that. It was quite romantic in it's own way and I thanked him for taking me. A couple of months later he proposed.

I think too much stock is put into the big dream of American girls to get married and have the ring and dress and all that (yet within a dozen years or so, about half the marriages are over so it kind of makes a mockery of the whole thing.) Of course I am not saying this is your case but I'd tell him you are sorry (yes, you!) for making a big fuss that your big dream wasn't done just as you'd want it. It's his day too and he may not have done it just as you wished but to me, I really don't see that he did anything so terrible, other than not make a big fuss over it.

I do understand where you are coming from but he's wise not to be in a hurry and it sounds like marriage is something he takes very seriously. It's not all about the show - proposals should be intimate affairs but we're used to them being blared out on baseball fields and with cameras etc and the inevitable YouTube videos.

Why are you so angry that he went about it this way? He wasn't being cruel or forceful - he pretty much did what my husband did. This is very hard for men, you know, and if they don't do it like they are "supposed" to, so what? If their hearts are in the right place, then that's all that matters.

I'd suggest you tell him you over-reacted (even if you think you didn't, I think he may) and tell him you'd like to start afresh. Then leave it at that. If it's meant to be, then the time will come and you will be able to enjoy the moment as it happens. The wedding and marriage may not go your way all the time either - this is life!

I am very sorry you think it's all tainted now but it's not necessarily so!

But if you feel you are now not even sure you want to be married because the proposal didn't go as you wished, then I don't think you are ready for marriage and you may be putting too much stock in being a bride, rather than a wife. Maybe this is a sign for you. This is more common that you think and all these bridal shows on TV don't help! If you continue to resent him over this, then he'll never marry you. You have to move past this if you want things to work out.

Take stock, forget the proposal - in the whole scheme of things, it's just not important. Spending a life with someone and possibly owning a home, raising children, etc is what matters.

Again, I do understand that you feel put out, because you had that childhood dream and I understand your disappointment, I really do. But for this to make you feel like you may not even want to be married now and your inability to put this behind you may be a good indicator that marriage isn't for you right now.

I know I don't know all the details and may sound a bit frank but all I can go by is what you say. I've been to one too many weddings where it was all about posting everything on Facebook and grand gestures and big dresses, only to see things crash after the party's over and real life sets in.

All women deserve a sweet or passionate proposal but he may have been planning this - you'll never know and he'd probably be afraid to tell you now. You deserve to be made to feel special and the only woman in the world for him - but sit back for a while, get a little perspective and you may feel differently about how things went because I feel he had good intentions but now also may feel differently about things, like you.

I wish you the best and if things work out - the proposal and wedding of your dreams!

January 6, 2011 - 12:26pm

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