The internet may love big, public proposals, but they’re not for everyone.

And that can lead to relationship problems.


As one woman wrote on Mumsnet, she was thrilled to get away for a romantic weekend alone with her boyfriend. Vacations away from the children (they both have kids from a previous relationship) are rare, and they got to stay in a nice hotel at a beautiful location.

The problem started when the couple visited a local landmark. It was the perfect place for a wedding proposal, and sure enough, another couple there was getting engaged. That’s when the woman learned that she might have been the one getting applause, until the reality of seeing a public proposal changed his mind. She wrote:

Last night we went to a landmark, the one I had been so excited about and I pointed out a couple getting engaged at the front. Everyone was clapping and cheering; it was truly lovely. [My boyfriend] turns around and says he had brought a ring with him (back in hotel) as he had planned on asking me to marry him but that looked embarrassing and too much so he isn’t going to now — maybe next year if we go away.

When she found a beautiful engagement ring in his luggage later, she knew he wasn’t lying. But that only made the woman more upset.

Though they have talked about marriage and their future, hearing her boyfriend back out on a proposal with “maybe next year” made her furious, as though she wasn’t “worth the hassle.”

She asked if it was unreasonable to be upset at her boyfriend for changing his mind about the proposal, deciding to wait until next year, and telling her about it:

[There are] a MILLION places here he could of done it if that was too much, but to just cancel it and ruin it feels rubbish.

Many of those who responded understood exactly how disappointing it must have been to hear about the changed proposal plans. As one commentor wrote:

That’s an unbelievably cruel thing for him to say/do — almost guaranteeing your good behavior for another year until something else puts him off the idea until the next big event.

Another said:

Much worse than actually not saying anything. I would need to leave someone who is that vindictive and manipulating at worst and that self-centered at best.

Some were offended that he was dangling marriage in front of her as a reward. A few even suggested it was grounds for reconsidering the relationship:

I couldn’t continue a relationship after this. It was nasty and unnecessary and there is absolutely no way he couldn’t have known it was a sh*t thing to do. If he wanted to propose he would have, believe me.

However, there were also those who felt sorry for the boyfriend, saying he probably got flustered in the moment and spoke without thinking:

Oh no he panicked then felt bad and wanted to let you know he did want to propose. He’s made a bit of a mess. You need to calmly sit him down and explain you don’t need a big proposal that he can go and get the ring stick it on your finger and you will say yes.

Another wrote:

Clearly this was a clumsy thing to have done but I suspect he didn’t anticipate the effect that this would have on you. […] He did want to tell you that he wants to be married (so couldn’t stop himself spilling the beans) but wants to plan an actual proposal (like the one you just saw) at some point in the future.

Several people blamed the trend toward elaborate proposals for putting too much pressure on men. One wrote:

I do think that the “elaborate proposal” culture is really unhelpful for lots of women, because they want to be engaged to men who are simply too scared or unwilling to make this kind of spectacle. They want to propose, but lose their nerve, and f*ck it all up.

And a few thought that the proposal was unnecessary, pointing out that (given the couple’s conversations about marriage), they were effectively engaged already:

If you have talked of marriage and the type of ceremony YOU ARE ENGAGED ALREADY. An engagement is a promise to marry. The ring is not even necessary.

One commenter had a very simple solution that bypassed the proposal entirely:

Tell him you’d like to set a date. You don’t need a proposal, you’re not a pair of 1940s teenage virgins. His reaction to fixing a date will tell you what you need to know about his feelings for you.

Given some time to calm down, the woman said she had spoken to her boyfriend and made it clear that she wasn’t expecting a big, public proposal. With the proposal off the table for now, she made up her mind to focus on enjoying the vacation. She wrote:

“He didn’t say it to be controlling but he doesn’t always have a filter or think about the effect of what he says. We had a lovely day and meal yesterday and the ring stayed in the room, so no proposal — which I am glad about as this has taken the shine off it, so to speak.”

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