LIFE

I Never Thought I Wanted An Engagement Ring Until I Wore A Fake One Around For 7 Days

by Grace Eire
Grace plays in a band and is the mother to a black cat named Fitzhugh.

I have never really had a strong desire to someday receive an engagement ring. The idea of one has never really existed in my mind until friends and Facebook acquaintances started getting engaged and posting pictures of their rings.

While other women my age already have their bridesmaid dresses and centerpieces planned in their minds, I haven’t really given a thought to anything wedding-related. To me, it mainly seems like a huge waste of money. I’ve never thought about the difference between a mermaid cut and a ball gown, or silk versus lace. It all seems pretty benign and outdated, honestly. 

But, since I’ve been seeing all of these rings pop up on my feeds, I’ve begun to wonder if I ever do want to get married.

It’s brought on a little bit, but not too much, pressure to maybe start taking potential relationships with at least a grain of seriousness, and to be more honest with myself about what I want.

Would I like to, someday, in what will probably be the distant future when I’m in my late 30s or even later, receive an engagement ring?

I decided, out of sheer curiosity, to wear a fake one for seven days.

My Parents' Story

before
Courtesy of Jane Ulrich

To give you a little glimpse into my view of what weddings are all about, I have to tell you my parents’ story.

I have never seen a picture of my mother in a white wedding dress, standing up straight and posed next to my father in a tux. I cannot even begin to picture my mother, Jane, in something so archaically feminine or my dad, Carlos, in what he calls a “monkey suit.” Neither of them have ever even toed the line of “normalcy,” as far as I can tell.

My parents got married wearing blue jeans and sweatshirts in my father’s student’s apartment, with a monkey puppet named Don Mono as their best man. Their vows to each other were “hunnert percent,” followed by a handshake – like from the 1983 movie The Right Stuff. They didn’t even kiss.

No, I’m not kidding.

after
Courtesy of Jane Ulrich

According to my mother, she “harassed him into marrying” her.

She told me, “I asked Dad to marry me a month after we met. He thought I was kidding and I cried. Then [I asked him] about every day after that for a few years. Drove him nuts… Once when I asked him, he threw a glass of wine at me. I laughed so hard, it was so funny. So NOT Carlos!”

I asked her if it was red or white.

“Red! All over everything.”

“In public?”

“No, at our apartment, all over Frau Linke’s peach wall.”

Frau Linke, as I subsequently learned, was their landlord who lived upstairs.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen my parents kiss, and they are not very verbal about their love – no “I love yous” before Dad leaves on a trip, and never ever a peck on the cheek when he gets home. The kind of romantic love I grew up with isn’t all that outwardly romantic or flashy, which is all fine by me. I’ve witnessed moments when my mother is upset and my dad is there to embrace her. When my dad was in an all-too-nearly-fatal bike accident, my mom took such good care of him. I know it’s written in stone that they love each other more than most can.

parents
Courtesy of Jane Ulrich

My parents have also never worn wedding rings of any kind. When I sent her a picture of my fake ring and told her I was conducting a little experiment, she said, “I didn’t even notice. I never had one so I don’t see them, just didn’t fit into our personalities back then…or budget.”

At the wedding at my dad’s student’s apartment, they celebrated with a little bit of champagne and a cold cut tray, then went home to pack for a long trip to Spain. That seems like a much better use of hard-earned cash than an extravagant affair.

Mom didn’t take dad’s last name, either. She said she would have if he spelled it “Eyre,” because then at least she’d identify with the Charlotte Brontë novel.

So, I’ve never really wanted an engagement ring or a wedding. I didn’t grow up believing I needed one or even really understanding that they were a big deal to a lot of people. I suppose that, in a way, this subsequently made me also neglect to think about whether or not I want a husband, children, or any of the other traditional things. I still have no idea what I really want to be when I grow up. I’m just enjoying the journey, as stupid as that sounds.

At 27, though, maybe it’s time to investigate.

The Ring Arrives

the ring
Grace Eire for LittleThings

When the ring came in the mail, it was a lot bigger than I’d imagined it being. For $30, it seemed pretty nice, and from a meager distance I think it looked pretty believable. I unceremoniously slipped it onto my finger and gave it a gander. It’s the pear shape that I only recently vaguely decided is the shape I might possibly want, should I ever want a ring. While picking it out with the Deputy Editor of LittleThings and making sure it was in budget (so romantic), I found myself caring about how it looked, which was already surprising.

After a proper assessment, I concluded: not too shabby.

First Impressions At Work

uncomfortable
Grace Eire for LittleThings

Right off the bat, though, I was super uncomfortable walking around the office with this very blatant symbol of love on my hand, especially because I am very decidedly single.

I was wary of the idea that coworkers who didn’t know me might assume that I was engaged and in love, while those who do know me might think I was some kind of fraud, or worse, that I had gone crazy and invented a fake fiancé. I don’t know by which of these three assumptions I was most put off.

At A Show

shybaby
Courtesy of Jess Catcher

On the second day of this experiment, I played a show with my band. I had every intention of at least mentioning the ring during the performance, or totally taking it off, but in the excitement of being on stage, it completely slipped my mind.

All of my songs are, in essence, about how I am largely incapable of or unwilling to love or let myself be loved. A friend of a friend came up to me afterwards to say it was a great show, but tagged on a hesitant, “Are you engaged?” I was immediately really embarrassed by the giant hunk of cubic zirconia had been sparkling the whole time I was screaming about how I’ve hung my heart out to dry. To be fair, the woman who asked me about the ring was herself married, so maybe she was more keen on its meaning than the young crowd of mainly unmarried folk?

Either way, I got over the embarrassment pretty quickly and was able to fully enjoy a night after a great show. I’m pretty sure no one actually thought I was engaged.

Getting Used To It

fraud
Grace Eire for LittleThings

One morning, I was late, as usual, and had no time to cover up all of the many breakouts on my face. I hate being late worse than anything, yet almost without exception, I am racing the clock. I get mad at myself for letting time slip away on a morning run and starting the day off apologizing to my editor.

Grabbing the ring from my dresser and slipping it on as I rushed out the door, I found myself actively thinking that I do not deserve this glittery symbol on my ring finger, not with my pimples and not with my tardiness and general disarray. I usually feel very comfortable wearing my T-shirts and ripped jeans, but wearing the ring in a sweaty rush to catch the train, I felt like a fraud. I felt like I looked too young, too messy, and too unprofessional — like I don’t have my life together. I just turned 27, but I am nowhere near a point in my life where I could possibly be ready to get married. I’ve never even had a real relationship!

Day-To-Day

forget
Grace Eire for LittleThings

As the week went on, though, the ring became more comfortable, at least physically. I always compulsively play with all of my rings, and this was kind of like another toy to fidget with at my desk. It gets bonus points for catching the light the way it does. Just now, I went to twirl it around and was disappointed it wasn’t there.

For the most part throughout the week, I didn’t really have to give it too much thought. Except…

On The Subway

awkwawrd
Grace Eire for LittleThings

Even before this experiment, I found myself checking out hands on both men and women as I looked for rings. It’s strange to see cute guys my age wearing rings, and women who look sometimes even younger than me are wearing them. I still feel so young, so why is everyone else my age growing up?

I found myself consciously switching my hands to hold the pole with my right hand, so I could hide my left hand from the searing gaze of commuters with bored, tired, and wandering eyes.

With A Man

serious
Grace Eire for LittleThings

While I’ve said multiple times that I am very single, there is someone with whom I have an uncomplicated relationship that can only really be described as complicated. We are friends; he is recently separated. We’ve known each other for a year and I’ve grown to really like him, although I know that he does not want a relationship and I am not ready to be in one. I am strangely both very comfortable with him while feeling like I’m balancing on a wire the whole time.

He saw the ring on my finger and asked me, laughing, “Are you engaged?” knowing that I obviously was not. I am a terrible liar, so I told him the truth — it was for work, and that I didn’t really like it. “It looks really pretty on you,” he told me with all of his sincerity, and added, “Look at your hand!” Me being me, I disagreed and said it’s too big, and real diamonds come along with a lot of controversy — I’d prefer an emerald or an opal, if anything at all.

“You’re telling me that if some rich guy gave you a giant ring and asked you to marry him, you’d say, ‘Nah, no thanks, I don’t need that’?”

After this, I did sort of feel like maybe I could deserve to wear a pretty ring someday. Pictured above is me trying to be serious about something for two short seconds.

Out With Friends

wife
Grace Eire for LittleThings

One of my very best friends, Ally, and I call each other “wife.” We have been roommates twice and often show up to parties, shows, and rehearsals together. When we lived together and I showed up without Ally or visa versa, friends would ask where the other was. She’s a wonderful human, and like all of my friends, I love and appreciate her so much.

I am incredibly lucky to have many, many friends who love me very much. I am in no real rush to lock down a significant other in part because my life if so full of love as it is. Sure, it’s a different flavor of love, but I’ve got enough on my plate right now. I hardly have a minute to spare in my week between my band, my a cappella group, going to shows, keeping up with chores, spending time with my cat, writing songs, working late, getting to the gym, and everything else. I can’t even think about setting up dates.

At this point, I’m so invested in everything else, that if someone crosses my path, great. But I’m in no rush to make it to the altar, courthouse, or friend’s living room à la Jane and Carlos. No sir.

Get This Thing Off Of Me

friends
Grace Eire for LittleThings

By the end of the experiment, I was ready to be done with it. My friends, however, were ready to hop on board — at least for a minute or two. While catching the Pats game in the 90-degree September sun, Ally asked to try on the fake ring. When she saw how it matched her watch, she told us, only half-joking, “I could get used to this.” Then we made Ben try it on, just for fun.

Do I Want A Ring Some Day?

engaged
Grace Eire for LittleThings

Sure, why not? However, I imagine it will be a much smaller stone, and maybe not a diamond. If it’s a diamond, it absolutely must be fair trade. I still like the pear shape, though. Something about the shape is very elegant, while being happily lopsided.

Overall, I learned that I am simply nowhere near emotionally, financially, or really by any sense of the word “ready” to think about marriage, although my age might say otherwise. After this week, it seems to me that I have to become a little bit more accepting of myself before I can accept someone else into my life.

Do you wear an engagement or wedding ring? SHARE with family and friends to hear their stories, too!