Get Rid of Engagement Rings?


Bling bling!

Tell me ladies, do you have a big fat diamond engagement ring on your finger? Maybe a giant sapphire? I personally don’t, not for any particular bias against them (when they’re conflict free) but rather because I am a ring snagger so I do best with low-profile rings that aren’t going to rip out my hair and destroy my delicates. I do have a surprising number of friends sporting big bling, some of whom I think must still be paying it off after a few years.

No matter. Whether you’re partial to something like Twistie’s silver frog or the 10 carat estate ruby I do occasionally wear (snag snag) or a huge honkin’ diamond set in platinum, there’s one thing most most engagement rings have in common. And that’s that engagement rings are given to women by men. Which is fine and dandy – who doesn’t love presents? – but it does have this weird way of tipping the scales, making people feel inadequate, and switching on the materialism in nice people who aren’t typically prone to that sort of thing. Plus, according to Slate’s Dear Prudence writer Emily Yoffe:

It turns young women — otherwise independent, successful strivers — into passive recipients, waiting for their prince to rescue them from their single state. In what other aspect of their lives do young women so totally turn over their future to the decisions of others? I get letters from women who regularly scour their beloved’s sock drawer, hoping to see a ring box, evidence that marriage is in their future. The ritual of the engagement ring means he decides, he buys, he proposes. Throwing the ring out of the equation encourages the progression toward marriage to be more of a continuing discussion, a joint decision.

What do you think? Should engagement rings go the way of the dodo or should things get back into balance with the introduction of an engagement gift for men trend?

14 Responses to “Get Rid of Engagement Rings?”

  1. bridal girl says:

    So true! But it has always been in our culture to expect that ring from our men! It will take years and years just to break the habit.

  2. Toni says:

    That’s why I went with this ring. It was more than I was hoping to spend, but it’s funky and architectural and small and flat and non “snag-y” and perfect for me.

    (To make sure the nerdiness is spread around, I bought him a white gold version of Tolkien’s One Ring for his wedding band. He loves it.)

  3. Katie says:

    I proposed first, and bought him a ring. However, he insisted on proposing to me, and made me wait another 5 years!
    Our rings cost approximately the same amount ($300 for his, around $400 for mine, but he was earning a lot more when he bought mine – it took me 8 months to pay his off!) so there isn’t that imbalance. There was in the waiting though, and that can still be a sore point.

  4. Lisa says:

    I don’t think that the ring is really the cause of *that* kind of behavior in women — or rather, the woman who scours her boyfriends sock drawer rabidly looking for a ring probably has issues that would be there even without the ring custom. For us the ring was more of a tradition than anything else – a way to seal the deal after we made a mutual decision. We talked about marriage, he pressed it, I turned him down, he pressed more, I turned him down a few times more …yadda yadda yadda…till one day I was ready and let him know that I was read, and wouldn’t you know it, the boy figured out a good moment to get on one knee and give me beautiful, handmade and not ostentatious, ring. I love that he picked it out, and that the proposal was a surprise to me, but ring or not, we *both* determined the timeline leading up to our engagement.

  5. Marcy says:

    For me, the idea of my partner holding all the power to make a decision as big as an engagement in our lives on his own simply when he was ready wasn’t comfortable for me. We made the decision to get engaged like we make every other decision in life – together.

    We did get an engagement ring for me, but we took it as a process. We worked with a jeweler we believed in to design a ring that fit my personality and our life together. I didn’t get a solitaire, but rather a unique thick band with diamonds that will double as both my engagement ring and wedding band.

    I think every couple has to do what’s right for them!

  6. I think the bigger problem is the proposal- the idea that the man has to swoop in and do some elaborate surprise, or he must not really love you. Get rid of proposals, not rings! Me, I like my ring, so I’ll be keeping it.

  7. Kate says:

    My now-husband and I talked about getting married for close to a year, we decided on a convenient month to get married, we designed my engagement ring together – and I still got a little bonkers waiting for the ‘big romantic surprise proposal.’ For me, though, the imbalance seemed to be more about the proposal than the ring – I’m pretty sure my husband would have wanted to stage a surprise formal proposal even if I’d decided that I didn’t want an engagement ring, and the wait would have been equally annoying without the jewelry.

  8. Audrey says:

    I don’t think a ring turned me into any kind of passive anything. I think that whole paragraph is bogus. “In what other aspect of their lives do young women so totally turn over their future to the decisions of others?” Young women often let others make decisions for them. They’re called friends. We often let our friends decide where we’re going, if a person is acceptable, if an outfit is acceptable, if a haircut is acceptable..etc etc. We let our family run our lives in many cases. Besides, who’s forcing a girl to wait to be asked? No one. If she wants to it. If she doesn’t have it in her to ask, it ain’t gonna happen no matter what trends regarding rings say. My FILs second wife asked him and that was almost 30 years ago. This isn’t a new idea. As for gifts…I got Chris an engagement ring. He just decided he wanted it to be his wedding ring too rather than have errant jewelry hanging around. And it’s damned pretty.

  9. Doz says:

    I totally agree with your article. The ball is too much in the mans court and in today’s day and age there is no incentive for men to hurry up and ask the question. Consequently a lot of women are left hanging on and dropping bombshell hints to their partner (I had to wait 7 years for the question). My fiance was very traditional about the whole thing and insisted that he bought me a ring and did the proposing. I wasn’t really bothered about having one as I knew that I would never wear it as I don’t really wear jewelery. Although I am very pleased with the choice that he made.

  10. Zee says:

    It wasn’t really a big thing in my particular relationship. Part of it was that I feel I am the more active person in the relationship, and if I proposed he would only passively accept it, so I decided for our particular relationship I would rather he make the active decision to stay with me. However, I did give him a promise ring before I left on a 5 month trip to England (purposely sized too big so he wouldn’t wear it like an engagement ring)- it was meant to be a promise of fidelity while we were apart.

    My fella did ask at one point after he proposed why men don’t get engagement rings, and I do think that is a good idea. Maybe engagement rings should come in packs- one for him and one for her.

  11. Jen says:

    I gave my husband an engagement ring long before I got one, and well after the two of us had decided together to get married. He wears it on his right hand now, as he has his wedding band on his left. Tradition only turns women passive if women allow it to.

  12. Twistie says:

    Tradition didn’t hold me prisoner. It doesn’t have to hold anyone prisoner. Women can propose and have done for a long, long time. Plenty of women – myself included – have chosen their own engagement rings or been equal partners in the choice. There are men who wear engagement rings. And as Lisa noted, rooting through a guy’s underwear drawer is not a requirement of the female condition.

    Yes, Mr. Twistie gave me the ring, but it was the ring I picked. Yes, he chose the moment for the formal engagement (more than a year after I started wearing the ring), but it was purely a matter of practical considerations – mostly monetary.

    Oh, and a huge, blowout proposal isn’t necessary, either. Mr. Twistie proposed with a single sentence while we sat in an all-night diner waiting for our appetizers. No getting down on one knee, no flowery language, no big production numbers, no props. He just noted that June 13 would be a sunday in 1993. When I asked him what was so important about that, he said ‘Oh, I thought maybe we could get married that day.’

    That was more than romantic enough for me.

    I think the thing that needs to change is the amount of pressure on women to wait and men to spend nearly as much thought on the act of getting engaged as the woman is expected to put into the wedding itself. The main imbalance is the one that says a guy who proposes in a low-key way clearly doesn’t care about his intended, and that a woman who cares about the details of her wedding is selfish and trivial.

    Now there’s an imbalance that’s unfair to both sides!

    Oh, and if Mr. Twistie wore jewelry at all, I would have absolutely gotten him an engagement ring. But he doesn’t even wear a watch and looked horrified when I asked him if he wanted a wedding ring. Nope, no rings of any kind for Mr. Twistie. Lots of rings for me. That wasn’t about tradition, but about our jewelry preferences as individuals. And I know if I’d hated wearing jewelry as much as he does, I would be cheerfully ringless and equally married today.

  13. Agreed on all counts, Twistie – part of the problem is that too many women are still raised to wait, and to expect big bling. I’m glad I wasn’t, though truth be told, proposing to a man does open one up to his saying no. In fact, I did once ask The Beard to get married and he did say no, though he doesn’t remember it, apparently, since he later asked me why I never proposed to him. Uh, yah, dude…

    No romantic gestures here, either… unless a tie counts? The Beard put on a tie, proposed while I was playing video games, then took off his tie so we could go to the laundromat. Very practical people, us.

  14. sheenu123 says:

    no body can get rid of engagement rings.these rings are the symbol of love and engaged person who is going to be permanent with someone in the future.nice post.