Should Women Propose? Should Men Wear Engagement Rings?

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No, I don't know why she's wearing a wedding dress. You try finding a photo of a woman proposing to a man.

A friend (and I hope I’m not overstepping bounds by calling you a friend!) suggested I write about gender roles as they pertain to proposals, and since I aim to please, here goes.

As you know, I’m far from a traditionalist. I didn’t take my husband’s last name, nor do we share a faith. So when it came to getting engaged, did I want Paul to get down on one knee, ask me to marry him, and give me a diamond engagement ring?

You bet your nose I did.

Do I think all women should want that same thing? Hell to the no.

You see, as gaga as I am for Paul and as often as we say I love you, he’s not a hopeless romantic who’s fond of stringing together multiple sentences to explain why he loves me. His well-thought-out proposal speech, including a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Wedding Singer, which he recited on bended knee in a Parisian park, was a rare treat that only getting engaged would prompt. (As for the ring, I think diamonds are pretty, but if I didn’t, I may not have wanted any jewelry.)

If your guy routinely spills his soul to you (lucky!), the above scenario may not be all that special. Moreover, I would’ve asked Paul to get married when we were 20-year-old juniors in college. While he was quite committed to me after seven years together, he wasn’t prepared to take the plunge. Therefore, it made more sense for him to propose marriage to me when he was good and ready (three excruciatingly long years later).

I think whoever in the relationship is ready second should do the proposing–no matter their gender. If the one who’s gung-ho about it first asks, he or she may not like the answer. But if you’re ready around the same time, then hey, draw straws or something.

On to engagement rings: I think if women are wearing them, then so should men. After all, both sexes wear wedding bands. It seems odd that you can’t easily tell when a guy’s engaged, but people across crowded bars can tell when a ring-sporting woman’s spoken for. I would’ve loved for Paul to wear a mengagement ring (yes, that’s a thing). He wasn’t into it, and since he would be the one wearing it every day, it wouldn’t be fair to pressure him into doing so. (Don’t worry–I didn’t need any coaxing to wear my ring.) Still, the fact that one of Paul’s coworkers sooner believed I introduced myself as Beyonce rather than Paul’s fiance (she didn’t think he was engaged!) annoyed me. Too bad Paul couldn’t safely wear the flat-screen TV I bought him as an engagement present.

As with every engagement/wedding/family/life decision, the best course of action is to do what’s best for the two of you!

Who do you think should do the proposing–men, women, or either? Would you want your guy to wear a mengagement ring?

More About Getting Engaged
The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do Right After You Get Engaged
Why Get Married?
Two Crazy Ways Guys Broke Their Engagements

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  • Sonja Ruokolainen

    In Finland the engagement ring is similar to American wedding band and both sexes wear it. The wedding band is usually bigger and has more stones so we could compare it to American engagement ring. However I believe that Europeans are perhaps more modest in their ring selections than Americans. I read regularly Save the Date and the rings that I’ve seen are humongous! Maybe it’s only a stereotype that Americans want everything bigger and better (than their neighbour)! 

    • Meredith Bodgas

      Interesting! I think that way makes more sense. Yes, there are certainly some gigantic diamonds out there–and I’ve heard almost-engaged gals say that they must have a diamond that’s at least x amount of carats (I’m guilty: I wanted a carat, which is about the average size here). I’ve even heard I want a diamond that’s bigger than x friend’s! 

      • Sonja Ruokolainen

        One carat sounds huge to me! I searched online how much a one carat engagement ring would cost in Finland and it was around 3500 euros (4706.50 US dollars) so it’s no wonder that not everyone can afford bling like that. I know someday I will buy my ring online! 

        • Meredith Bodgas

          Oh man, no, my now-husband definitely couldn’t have afforded a ring that cost that much! I don’t know if diamonds are cheaper in the states or if it was cheaper because he proposed nearly 6 years ago, but I promise it wasn’t that expensive! Stepping back from it all, I realize that however much he did spend is still outrageous!

  • 27 and a PhD

    I’ve been thinking about “recycling” my quinceanero ring, which my dear grandma left me before she died, as I don’t use rings or much jewelery in the lab. Hon and I are very much into equality and I’ll open doors for him as much as he does for me, share household duties, etc. That said, I’d still like for him to do the proposing (not necessarily get on one knew). I’m also a strong advocate for mengagement rings, which I told hon to do, because if I’m wearing something that says I’m on lay-away (ha!), so should he!  

  • Khayreyah Amani Wahaab

    my partner and I never really got engaged we always knew we were going to get married from the get go, but as far as unconventional marital statuses go, he’s the one wearing a Mengagement ring – not me! ok, so it may have something to do with 1. I am a jewellery designer and buying jewellery for me without me knowing would be horrifying and 2. the ring he wears is super sentimental – the first piece of jewellery i ever handmade whilst training. 

  • Jillian Fagan

    I think it’s a matter of how you feel about it too. I just got engaged to the love of my life a month and a half ago, and he asked me this past weekend if he could have a ring too, after we came back from dropping off MY ring to have it resized. At first we thought i’d get him a claddaugh ring, but couldn’t find one in his size. then we saw some Celtic knot- and ropework style rings, and i ended up getting him one of those, which he and i both love, and looks good on him. he’s bought me a fair amount of jewelry, so i get to buy him something too, even better something that indicates he’s mine. We joke, too, that we’re part of a mutual rent-to-own contract.