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Planning your own engagement: why is it a taboo?

Planning your own engagement: why is it a taboo?

In a couple of weeks, my boyfriend and I are taking a trip to San Francisco to meet with an engagement ring designer. We already had a virtual meeting and emailed about details. But this visit is to ensure that I’ll love the ring that will be on my finger for decades to come.

For some, the idea of picking out my engagement ring seems preposterous.
They think: 

“How is it romantic if you know what the ring will look like?” 

Those same people are even more shocked to hear that my boyfriend and I have talked about much more than the ring regarding our engagement.

I understand why planning your own engagement is considered taboo. Especially when compared to more traditional ways of proposing. Usually, two people fall in love, the man asks the woman’s dad for her hand in marriage, and the man picks out a ring and proposes. For some people, that process works just fine. But for other people (like my boyfriend and I), that couldn’t be further from how we want to do things.

We’ve talked about everything from the ring to ways I’d like to be proposed to. Well, more so ways I definitely don’t want to be proposed to!

Sure, there will still be some element of surprise, like when or where it happens, but we have a mutual understanding of the important things that people build expectations around.

About a lot more than just getting through a milestone 

Making these decisions together is about communication, equality within our relationship, and planning our future together. Let me explain:

Expectations can silently bring down even the healthiest relationships if you’re not careful. When there’s something you want from your partner, it’s only a matter of time before resentment builds if that desire isn’t met.

A straightforward solution to having your expectations met is communication. So what does a proposal have to do with expectations? Simple. Many people (women especially) have specific ideas for how they want their wedding rings and proposals to look, which is fair! 

They’re two exciting and important aspects of marriage.

Yet, some couples never talk about these expectations. On a recent TikTok video where I asked my followers if they wanted to be part of the proposal-planning process, some commenters left shocking responses:

“No, cuz if the slightest doesn’t go how I planned, then I won’t want it anymore,” responded one woman. 

A few other people voiced the same sentiment. These comments imply that the engagement is a sort of “test” to see how well their partner knows them.

Which blows my mind because– if an engagement is being considered at all– the proposal shouldn’t be the make-or-break decision.

The fact my boyfriend and I could sit down and talk about our future engagement meant a lot to me. I’ve always loved that no topic is off the table, especially when it comes to one of the biggest decisions we’ll make in our relationship.

I won’t sit here and act like it was always an easy conversation

This is where equality came into play. I value having a progressive mindset when it comes to gender equality. Something about the expectation that the guy has to propose and then I’d eventually take my boyfriend’s last name didn’t sit right with me.

Yet, I still wanted both of those things. So the internal struggle was very real.

I brought this dilemma up to our couple’s therapist one session. It led to a beautiful conversation about what equality means to me and how we can have it in other aspects of our relationship. To be frank, I can’t imagine gender equality having ever come up in our relationship. The fact that planning our engagement together brought it up is what I consider a bonus.

The last, and most important part of why we chose to plan out the proposal together, is this:

Anything involving our future will always include both of us

 We value honesty and each other’s opinions. There’s no reason that our proposal should be an exception.

Sure, I might not be completely blind-sided by the fact my boyfriend wants to marry me. I may not be shocked to see what the ring finally looks like. But I will be just as excited to go through this relationship milestone as anyone else. If anything, my anxiety will be calmer knowing that it’s coming.

This article isn’t to try and convince you to remove all surprises from your future engagement. It’s not even trying to convince you to get married. But I hope it helps you stop and think about the many layers involved with engagements. The last thing you want is something as special as this to be ruined by poorly communicated expectations. Or a lack of understanding of what getting engaged means to both of you.

Contrary to the comment I mentioned above, many people commented on my TikTok video, saying they want to be part of the process. Some want to help design the ring, while others want their partner to know where they’d like to be proposed to.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever you feel comfortable with. Just make sure not to let an old taboo stop you from speaking up if you want to be part of your engagement process.

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