In this age of equal opportunities, a surprisingly tiny number of women pops “the questions”. According to a survey of married couples in America, only in 5% of cases it was the woman to propose, even though three quarters of Americans say that it would be fine for the woman to propose.
In an age when there are dating apps where women make the first move, a survey of men showed that only 33% thought that “whoever had the guts to do it” should propose, a tiny 4% preferred the woman to do it, and a whopping 63% preferred to retain the privilege. In another survey , only 2.8% of women said that they would be willing to propose. So, there must be lots of men and women who are happy to share the mortgage, the nappy-changing and the washing up but not the proposing.
There is not much to be nostalgic about the days when women had to weigh the chances of being proposed to by their favourite suitor against the prospect of being “left on the shelf”, and shy men who dithered for too long, ended up seeing their sweetheart at the altar with somebody else. So, why is men’s role in proposing still so entrenched?
Women fear that, if they propose, they will seen as desperate or unfeminine.They also worry that, later in the marriage, they will doubt if the man really wanted it.
For the men, it’s a matter of feeling deprived of agency, emasculated, rushed, and that they’ve had their “thunder stolen”.
With social media broadcasting every events of people’s lives and opening them to public scrutiny, it’s probably even harder for a couple to take risks and break the mould.
Witnesses of the fact that this isn’t only a modern conundrum, some Irish and Scottish traditions, dating respectively to the 5th and the 13th century, allow women to propose on the 29th of February.
Unfortunately, the next leap year will be in 2020. Much too long to wait. So, if you are a woman and wish to pop the question this Christmas Eve ( according to a survey , this is men’s favourite time for proposing, while for women it’s Valentine’s Day and, of course, the anniversary of the first meeting), here are my suggestions:
- No surprises: while you think you have dropped hints, he might not have caught them. Give him plenty of time to think about what he is going to say and how (there are no masculine patterns of behaviour yet for a man who has been proposed to).
- Keep it low-key: if you are going to break with tradition and do the deed, it makes no sense to reintroduce tradition in the form of surprise, rings, romantic venue, etc. If you did, he would really feel like you are stealing his thunder. As you are doing something new and untraditional, do it in a new and untraditional way. The ring, the romance, the music, are traditional ways to speak women’s love language. Speaking a man’s love language probably looked more like dropping the question casually, possibly while driving or doing some other activity which doesn’t allow eye contact.
Most of us, men and women, won’t be proposing this year, but there is a lot we can do to make life easier and happier for those who are thinking of doing so: respect their decisions, do not judge, and always, always be kind.
Would you propose or would you rather be proposed to?
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