Public marriage proposals and what women really want

Grey’s Anatomy spoiler from last night at the jump – don’t worry, you can read the first part, just don’t click “more” if you don’t wanna know.

A few years ago a friend dumped her boyfriend. After they broke up, he told her about this gorgeous ring he had bought her and his plan to propose: At her brother’s college graduation, with all of her family present.

“I would have had to say yes,” she lamented to me, “if he did it in front of everyone like that. I would have had to say yes and then tried to figure out how to get out of it!”


After I finished lecturing her on how she should never, ever say yes when she means no, ever, I started thinking about it: Why would this guy have put this question on such a display that she’s answering in front of everyone? She’s not one to enjoy the spotlight. And he had to know she has an awful time saying no to people – she can’t even walk past the kiosks in the mall because she will buy whatever they’re squirting or rubbing on you or putting in your hair. And their relationship had been rocky for a few months. Was this trickery? Was he planning on proposing publicly knowing it’d be near-impossible for her to say no? And not to mention: way to go on potentially stealing all the thunder on her brother’s big day!


A couple of months ago Chris told me he got teary during a marriage proposal on “Survivor”. I didn’t watch it, but I immediately wondered why someone would choose reality television as a platform to pop the question. I mentioned this to him, and it was as if the thought had never even occurred to him. “What do you mean? What’s wrong with that?”

“Proposing in front of millions of people? Do you know what kind of pressure that puts on her to say yes? On him for her to say yes?”

“Oh,” he said, “I never even thought about that before.”

Later he thanked me for that and for helping him avoid potential mistake at some point down the road.


“Grey’s Anatomy” spoiler to follow:

Last night I enjoyed immensely the discussion surrounding how Derek should propose to Meredith. Flowers, candles, a big production? “You’re not going to make it a big thing are you?” Cristina asked. “Because she would hate that.”

“But she built a house of candles,” Derek said.

“She built you a house of candles because you like that sort of thing. She doesn’t,” Cristina replied.

Of course, I can’t speak for any other woman than myself, but watching Derek and Sloan fill that bedroom with roses, I was thinking “What a waste of money.” Pretty, yes, but what’s the point? I used to love getting flowers until I found out how much they cost. Pick her some wildflowers, boys, and spend the money on something extremely personal to her and you – and that’s way more touching than any flowers. Sure, it takes more thought, but isn’t that the point?


Women, tell me – am I wrong here? Am I not romantic enough? Am I missing the heart-melting moments of the proposals on the big screen at the sporting events or in the middle of crowded restaurants? Should I swoon when I see $100 in roses show up at my doorstep? Surely I’m not completely off here …

And guys, I know it’s tough. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes for even one minute, having to decide what we are thinking and make sure it’s perfect – the first question after anyone gets engaged is always: “How did he pop the question?” Followed by: “What’s the date?” and “How many kids are you gonna have?” I digress.

Bottom line: I really think it’s about the love, about the connection between you and her, and never about the spectacle.

P.S. And don’t pop the question on Christmas or her birthday. Make it a day that becomes special on its own. Plus, you’re weaseling out of getting an extra gift 🙂