Ladies, it’s a leap year, the day tradition sets aside for you to propose to your fella. And so I say to you; in the immortal words of Destiny’s Child: “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.”
After all, why are we waiting on the men in our lives to be deciding our marital destiny? More than that… should we really only be ‘allowed’ to do this once every four years?
A recent survey, by jeweler Beaverbrooks revealed that 71% of Brits believe the tradition is outdated, and that women should be proposing, well, anytime they goddamn feel like it, while another survey revealed that a whopping 76% of men think more women should propose. In fact, according to Google Trends, ‘men’s engagement rings’ received an average of 14,800 searches per month in 2019. It’s why Beaverbrooks and countless other jewelers like Van Cleef and Arpels, De Beers, Fraser Hart and trusty H.Samuels are now producing ranges of men’s proposal rings.
So, how does it actually feel to be the woman popping the question?
“I feel really strongly that a lot of traditional gender norms are so outdated now” says Susie Ekeland, who proposed to her now-husband a few years ago; “So I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask him.”
“I got down on one knee while we were on holiday, stood on a frozen lake in the very north of Sweden, where my husband is from. I proposed with a special watch that I knew he had coveted for a very long time. There were tears and big emotions and of course… he said yes!”
Was she worried he would feel – that dreaded phrase – ‘emasculated’? “Not at all. He’s never been confined by convention – I think he got quite a thrill out if it! That’s partly how I know we are a good match for each other!”
It is, of course, still a relatively unusual move for heterosexual couples; but one that is hopefully becoming a lot more normalised. “Some of our friends thought it was quite rock and roll,” says Susie, “We definitely inspired one or two other girlfriends to do the same recently.”
Natalie Landale, who owns and designs her own jewellery brand – specialising in engagement rings- would, understandably, be an intimidating person to propose to. She got around this by popping the question herself in 2017, in the most Rom Com way imaginable…
“My husband and I were together at school age 17-18 and split up half through our first year at university,” she says, “Then twelve years later, we were at a festival together just as friends and I remember thinking the whole time how much I wanted to be back together. So, on the last night, in the early hours of the morning I asked him to marry me. I thought he was calling my bluff when he said yes- but he was being serious. We married a year later.”
Natalie says it was the greatest decision of her life, and one she made “Realising that if I didn’t ask I would never know and potentially lose him again.”
Was she nervous he would say no? “Of course! But I think being a little drunk definitely helps!”
Emily Segins did, however, get that dreaded ‘no’. “When I proposed to him he said no, and I was definitely taken aback,” she explains, “But it turned out it was because he was already planning his own proposal and was annoyed I had beaten him to it!”
But did it end happily ever after?
“Yes!” she laughs, “We each ended up doing our own proposal and we are now very happily married!”
So, if poor Emily’s husband was pipped to the post, how does it feel to be a guy who is proposed to, if society and tradition has long made you think it’s your job?
“I was overjoyed of course; but surprised, definitely,” says Matthew Foster, whose wife proposed to him on a bench in Battery Park on Boxing Day in 2016, halfway through a holiday in New York. “We had just been on a helicopter tour and stopped for a hot chocolate and she was very very particular about finding a place to watch the sunset. So we sat, and as I was snapping pictures on my camera she started talking about us, the future, our plans… when I reassured her that yes, I was serious and I did think about our future, I put the camera down to find her holding out a ring! “So will you marry me?” she asked. “Yes, I’d like that!” I replied.”
And did he feel robbed of his own proposal? ‘Less of a man’ because of it?
“Not at all, not remotely. I’ve never considered it a man’s ‘right’ to propose!” he explains, “One of the things that I found attractive about her in the first place was her savvy, her confidence, and her drive to make things happen; so it’s totally in keeping with the woman I love. I do know a few men who really hate the idea of their partners proposing, and I just don’t understand their reasoning.”
“As far as I see it, women shouldn’t hesitate to propose if they think the time is right,” says Matthew- now a proud husband who also took his wife’s name (DING DING DING Feminist points for Matthew) “The number of times I’ve seen twitter threads or reddit posts from women frustrated that they’re “still waiting” for their partners to propose, and wondered why they’re wasting time!”
Susie agrees; “It’s one of the most empowering decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve never been a wallflower, so waiting patiently for him to ‘pop the question’ just did not suit me. I think if you really know how you feel – and you know how your partner feels, it shouldn’t matter who asks. Love is love.”
Ok, ladies…your move.