April 20, 2012 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Surprise marriage proposal filter, askee edition: how did you handle it and what did you notice your spouse doing a lot of before he/she proposed?

Pre-engagement wondering period alert!

I've been dating my amazing SO for about 8 months or so (I'm female and he's male) and we're both in our late thirties. Things are great and I have this weird hunch he's going to propose soon. We're both ready, emotionally, financially, physically, etc. and have talked about it some. I want a surprise proposal and I want him to do the asking (and I know he will eventually). He hasn't been acting out of the ordinary but has been a bit mushier than usual, mixed with a few dashes of stress that he claims is from "being busy with work".

My general question is this: did you notice any different behaviors before your spouse proposed? For those of you who had a surprise proposal, how did you handle the suspense and waiting? I know it will happen when it happens, but I still have that level of wonderment in the back of my mind. I'd love to hear your anecdotes and any advice on this pre-engagement period.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend who was waiting for a "surprise proposal" last summer. Literally every time her boyfriend asked her to go to dinner, or to a show, or out ANYWHERE, she thought it was "the time." It got to the point where he couldn't ask her to go to lunch without her wondering if he was going to do it, and then getting disappointed when it didn't happen. She got dressed up and manicured so many times, it almost became funny (for me, anyway).

It ended up happening when they were on summer vacation, on a hike. She was thrilled at being engaged, and even more thrilled that the anticipation worry period was over and now she could relax.

I guess my advice to you (which you won't take, and neither would I in your position) would be to RELAX! Do you have a birthday/anniversary/trip coming up in the next few months? That will probably be when it happens.

Alternatively, do you know if he's bought the ring? You could try to peek at his credit card statements or something. That's probably a huge clue.

Don't drive yourself crazy!
posted by katypickle at 3:45 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

IF your parents are still alive and in the picture, ask your Dad to alert you if he gets called by your SO about wanting your parent's blessing, etc. I surprised my (ex) wife which she wanted. We were in her hometown visiting and I decided to talk to her father while I had the chance. Then, two days later, we were all going to the 4th of July fireworks and it sort of dawned on me that exploding fireworks would be a good backdrop. I quickly went to the grocery store to put my quarters in the gum ball machine to get a ring. 4 quarters later I had two really cool rings from which to choose and 2 pieces of really bad bubble gum. Gave her one that night as a "placeholder" until we could both shop for the ring she wanted.

He will not keep it a secret. He will tell someone even if it is his best friend. Surprise ask them if he said anything. You will be able to tell by their reactions and denials.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:54 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Even though we had discussed it, I was totally surprised when he asked. I don't recall any unusual behavior, but that could be because he's really sneaky. ;). Twenty two years married as of today. Good luck!
posted by blurker at 4:20 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

We already agreed to get married, so I didn't expect a proposal, but then one day partner insisted on taking me out to dinner. The whole day seemed a bit weird. He was radiating nerves and extra love, if that makes sense, so I had a feeling what was up. Then he wanted to go for a walk down on the marina, that's when I knew what was happening. I was a bit of a jerk about it. "You're about to propose aren't you." Yeah... not my finest move but it was a nice moment after that.

It was a bit weird because a bunch of my already married friends had similar stories in that they just knew when the proposal was imminent. Is that love? I don't know, but my guess is it's quite common.

So yeah... relax and enjoy the moment and let him also enjoy the moment. Good luck!
posted by kendrak at 4:42 PM on April 20, 2012

I was with my ex for seven years. I was certain he was on the verge of proposing for six of those seven years, including a holiday to an "adult" resort in Jamaica where I waited on bated breath the entire time. He never proposed, and
we broke up because I felt so insecure because he *didn't propose*, at which both of us were devastated. If you really, really want it, don't wait for it - ask him
yourself or discuss it with him,
otherwise you might be waiting forever.
posted by goo at 5:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

for me, my best friend was the weird one. at a party, she *insisted* I go with her to santa barbara the next day. I was tired -- it's a 4 hour drive -- but she was being pushy about it, which was very out-of-character. while I thought she was acting strange, I wasn't suspicious. even when she pulled off the road early at a particular beach, and led me to the lifeguard tower where my then-boyfriend had asked me to be "more exclusive" 5 years before. I still didn't get it. until he tapped me on the shoulder with a bouquet of flowers... and asked me to be "even more exclusive."

I agree you should relax and give him a chance. if you're waiting, and waiting, and it starts to bother you, a discussion should be in order!
posted by changeling at 5:12 PM on April 20, 2012

We hadn't talked about it beforehand, so it was a surprise, not a "surprise".

Looking back, I think he was a little quieter than usual but we were coming up on a big life transition (I was moving away), so we were both being kind of philosophical.

His first attempt failed, I found out later. He wanted to go for a hike, he said. The weather looked threatening. He was oddly insistent about the damn hike, so I trusted his promise that the weather would hold. 10 minutes in, at the bottom of a ravine, the skies opened--rain, hail, lightning, the works. Took 30 minutes to get back to his place. I didn't have a change of clothes there, and was about as incandescently angry as I've ever been at him.

The lesson he learned from that was: don't make it A Big Moment. So he asked a few days later as we were walking through a parking lot on our way to my apartment.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I remember this delicious, yet suspenseful feeling! I was also in my mid/late 30's. I just KNEW and I was correct.

My husband (boyfriend at the time) was giddy and suspicious all at once - like he was a kid who couldn't stand to keep a great secret but was guilty. He would hint but not hint, if that makes sense. Very cute!

Enjoy and good luck to you!
posted by Punctual at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2012

Like goo, I once spent many years half-expecting a proposal. It seemed the right time; we'd been dating a few years; had met each other's families; had talked about marriage and knew we both wanted it; had both talked about how this relationship was "the one". Every birthday, Christmas, and anniversary, I was sure this was going to be "it". Once he even sent me a gift that was small and ring-shaped in the package - but it turned out not to be a ring. In the end, after four years, it became clear to me that he wasn't going to do a surprise proposal, so I did one instead. He said yes. Now we are married.

It's not like waiting and expecting ruined my life or anything, but I do kind of wish I hadn't made it such a big deal.
posted by lollusc at 8:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

This book talks about the "when will he propose already!?!" feeling. (Note: there seem to be various versions of it with slightly different titles?)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really would have loved it if I had been proposed to, but I couldn't stand the waiting and ended up asking my man to marry me while we were drunk and sitting on our front stoop smoking a cigarette. :) He said yes. Second anniversary was just a couple weeks ago.

It all depends on your tolerance for uncertainty, I suppose. If you have the patience, good for you! But if not, well, ask him.
posted by elizeh at 10:43 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing everyone else in recommending that you just try to relax and enjoy things as they are right now. I know it's hard to do, but I think otherwise you'll just stress yourself out every time he suggests doing something. My sister was sort of like that, where she was so impatient to be engaged that every holiday, every big event, every time they had dinner, she expected it and got mad at him. Eventually he proposed, but I think she really wasted a lot of time being upset that he wouldn't just do it already.

In my case, even though we had gone ring shopping, talked about it to death, and knew that it was going to happen, I was still surprised when he actually did it. So you can always be at least a little surprised, even when you know he's going to do it.

So really, as long as you know that you're both on the same page, I think you just have to relax and go with the flow. Maybe tell yourself that it's not going to happen for another 6 months or something so that you won't even think about it or put any pressure on him. (Obviously my advice would be different if you felt like you weren't on the same page or you didn't think he was ready to get married or you weren't sure if he was ever going to propose to you. But since that's not the case, you really just have to wait it out.)
posted by McPuppington the Third at 11:32 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was the asker, and she got suspicious when I did something out of the ordinary: made plans for us. We had dated for months, and had arranged a few things, but it had always been very loose and spontaneous. When I asked her to not make plans (other than to come see me, a couple hours' drive away) for a specific upcoming Saturday - to "go on a hike*", no less - she began to suspect something was up. (It also didn't help that I had previously asked her her ring size, but that's another story.)

*Something we did quite a lot of, but never planned more than a few minutes ahead of time.
posted by attercoppe at 11:51 PM on April 20, 2012

Like goo and lollusc, I waited a long time. My boyfriend and I were together for 10 years (living together for 9 and joint finances for 6) before we got engaged. I wouldn't say I expected a proposal but for years, every birthday, christmas, anniversary and valentines day I would hope for a proposal but it never came. He once got my a very romantic gift and for years afterwards he would always say he was never going to come up with something that could top that and I would hint I can think of something

We're engaged now but its not exactly a story to tell the grandkids (or my parents actually), we were really drunk one night and he told me why he hadn't proposed (I make more money than him and he felt he couldn't propose because he couldn't support me and he wanted me to propose to him)... for years I thought I wanted the perfect proposal - he has the ring (and its somehow perfect and exactly what I've been imagining for years) and gets down on one knee etc but in the end that drunken expression of his true feelings was perfect. (we did discuss it again properly in the morning)

My advice would be to either do it yourself or try to put it out of your mind.
posted by missmagenta at 11:58 PM on April 20, 2012

My fiancé and I had talked about marriage quite a bit, and we'd discussed what my preferences were for a ring, as well, if he wanted to go that route. It got to the point where I knew he'd commissioned the ring from a jeweler and that he'd be proposing sometime within a one-year time span. Despite all of that, he still managed to surprise me with a really simple, sweet, no-frills proposal at the dog park we visit with coffee most weekend mornings. (Actually, he surprised himself, too—he planned on proposing several months later, but decided he couldn't wait.) Granted, I tend to not be all that observant, so I'm sure I missed some signs, but still. Sometimes these things happen when you—or both of you!—least expect it.

In short: Try to relax and enjoy the experience. When it happens, it happens! (But, as others have said, there's no reason you can't do the asking. Tradition be damned.)
posted by divisjm at 5:27 AM on April 21, 2012

Does he know you want/expect a surprise proposal? To me it is such a weird cultural oddity, and such an irrational way to start a major joint enterprise, that you need to make your view plain.

You also need to tell him what sort of venue you would like -- to me the local dog park which you can visit again any time you want a quick romantic memory beats schlepping off to Paris to find a famous spot to propose in.

[And if you think it is such a great thing, why don't you do it for the one you love?]
posted by Idcoytco at 6:25 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are the shoals upon which couples wreck.

You are eight months into a relationship. It's great that you guys have talked this through and all, and that kind of clarity really helps. But you need to be prepared to take this one step at a time. If every time you're somewhere vaguely romantic you're clenching up with anticipation, you're going to trash yourself. If you want to wait to be asked--if you won't do the asking yourself--AND if you want to be surprised, you have to get this stuff out of your brain. I know it's hard! Lots of people are like kids on Christmas eve about this.

And you're only eight months in. These conversations you've had about marriage might be, for him, great groundwork about stuff that's much further down the road in his mind.

I've seen a lot of relationships turn sour over this, and it's really sad and unfortunate. And needless! I've seen a bunch of women finally break up with men because they haven't been proposed to soon enough, and, you know... suddenly being single actually doesn't get you married any faster. (They're mostly all still single.)

Take your time. Enjoy yourself. You haven't even hit the usually rough first quarter of the second year stretch yet, when the gloves come off and everyone gets to know who each other really is!

And marriage (and even engagement) ain't always a picnic either. We're acculturated to WANT this thing real bad and then you get it and guess what? It's FOREVER. There is no "next" thing. It's a pretty intense mindtrip. You've arrived--and every day isn't roses and kittens.

I did the proposing and it was a shocking surprise. Which is hilarious, since I carried that ring around for six months. It's good to know that I can apparently keep secrets from my fully oblivious spouse--and I'm sure I was acting plenty weird. (And PS, I proposed and had to wait a week for an answer. Heh. Try that on for suspense!)

posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:04 AM on April 21, 2012 [8 favorites]

I pulled off quite the proposal heist that was nearly hijacked by a local news story that ran back at home.

The (now) fiancee had surprised with a trip to the penultimate shuttle launch. I countered by getting us into a special NASA event that let us watch from up close under the pretense of proposing to the girlfriend.

She had no idea how we both got picked. I bought the ring online, having consulted her in passing over the months before this was planned. I told literally no one besides an officemate that wasn't in our circle and with whom she never speaks. No best friends. No parents. No no one. (Her father had passed, so there was no "blessing" to be had.)

Keeping it deep quiet like this, even from my own family, ensured that there would be no subtle "think they're being clever" quips or outright slip ups. They literally had no idea.

The day before, I was a bit nervous, since we were touring Kennedy Space Center and I had a loose ring in my pocket. Later that night, we couldn't go out to the place where I wanted to propose. Except the local news guy who had interviewed us for being out at the launch knew I was going to propose and teased it in his clip. Parents watched the news. Very nearly ruined it.

Early the next morning, in front of the giant countdown clock, I had a friend shoot pictures as I proposed. They were out by the water looking at the launch pad through binoculars. "Can you come shoot some of me and girl by the countdown clock?" Girlfriend: "We did clock photos yesterday." Me: "Shutup, let's go."

I told the friend to "just keep shooting" as I went down on one knee, lest she think I was tying my shoes or anything like that. (Obligatory photos.)

So by keeping TOTALLY silent and by really trying not to tip her off too far on the ring thing (which was tricky, but her friend was talking about a ring so I used that as a segue, even still, if it was all-ring-chat-all-the-time, it was going to tip her off), she was thoroughly surprised.

However, on a trip to New York a few months before, she was confident I'd propose to her there. That was never even in the cards, so the entire time we're there she's thinking I'm going to do it and yeah, no.
posted by disillusioned at 2:42 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

« Older What are other songs like Orion?   |   Temp home for our cat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.