While it’s generous of the boyfriend to consider the motivation of her parents, he’s risking losing the thread of the narrative by not focusing on what should matter more: how his girlfriend feels about the way her parents are always asking her when she will get married and have children.
“Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I’ve reached that point in my life where marriage is increasingly appealing. I’m ready to make that commitment, and I know she’s the one for me.
“Her parents hosted a dinner party to celebrate us all being able to finally visit each other’s houses again – it was me, my gf, her brother, his gf and our 3 sets of parents.”
He shared that the moment just seemed right:
“It seemed perfect to me, so after dessert, I got down on one knee and proposed. She looked pretty stunned and said ‘errrm…. I guess’ and everyone laughed.
“All the parents started celebrating, her mother was crying, her father was opening champagne, we were all hugging.”
But when they got home, everything changed:
“We went home later and I told her how happy I was to spend the rest of my life with her, and she started crying and saying she felt like she had no choice.
“This upset me, it was hardly the enthusiasm I’d hoped for, and I asked if she loved me.”
The problem was that he just assumed she’d want to get married — so much so that he felt no qualms about asking her in front of an audience:
“She said she did, and maybe she did want to get married, but the way I proposed made it feel like her answer was a foregone conclusion and she didn’t have time to think about it, and even now she knows that if she were to change her mind, she’d be letting everyone down and disappointing her parents.”
She also said that she wanted to have a conversation together about what future they both imagined for themselves, which is definitely a healthy way to approach marriage.
“She said she wished I’d proposed privately, so we could talk together about what it really means and what our future looks like, and she could be really 100% sure of her decision before announcing it to her family. She feels like I’ve removed her opportunity to prepare for her parents’ reaction and make sure she was saying yes because she wanted to, instead of because of expectation.”
That’s really the key thing about public proposals of any kind. While they might look and feel romantic, the person being proposed to almost inherently feels compelled to say yes whether or not they really want to. Sometimes, like in this instance, they may well want to get married, but they don’t get the option of really exploring that when there’s an audience of expectant people watching.
The boyfriend also demonstrated a clear lack of understanding about who his girlfriend is:
“She says she’s less sure than ever about our relationship because the proposal shows how little I know her or what she wants.
“I thought I was being romantic, and even if it wasn’t her ideal proposal, I don’t see why that should affect her answer. Our relationship’s about more than just that one evening.”
He wanted to know if he made a mistake, and if he’s the one at fault here. Reddit was quick to give him many, many answers.
One person was quick to point out that had the man listened to his girlfriend, he would have known not to do this.
“You really should have been paying more attention to these discussions on how much pressure their parents have put on them to get married, and how uncomfortable that is.
“Asking in front of the people who pressure her to get married was probably the absolute worst way to propose to this woman.”
Another person suggested that perhaps he did pay attention … and used the conversations against her:
“How much more attention did you want him to pay to these conversations? He very clearly heard that proposing in front of her parents would be a guaranteed yes because of the pressure they put on her, so that’s what he did.”
Another echoed this sentiment:
“It’s the Jumbotron maneuver. Propose in front of a crowd that will make denial almost impossible.
“This was a proposal for him, not her, and now he’s feeling a teensy, tiny fraction of the upset that went through her at that moment. Guys get to take as much time as they want to craft a proposal, get the ring, whatever, but girls are supposed to lock-in their foreseeable future in a matter of seconds.”
One person chimed in to say that their partner did exactly what this guy did … and now they’ve been “engaged” for eight years:
“My partner did something similar. He in advance asked for permission from my family and proposed in front of his daughter and a bunch of his work friends. Saying no would have been humiliating for him. So we’ve been ‘engaged’ for going on eight years.
“I honestly have no intention of marrying him. He knows it now, but still brings it up every couple of years. I love him and am happy to spend the rest of my life with him, but I’m not interested in getting married.”
Ultimately, the couple probably needs to sit down for long and possibly difficult conversations where they both get to discuss what they hope their future looks like.
After all, as one person put it: “You put all the pressure on her when she’s already getting it from her parents and honestly the fact that it seems like it was kind of on a whim makes me question your judgement as well.”