How do you feel about women proposing to men? Many men, in a study, said they would be shocked, or worse, they would laugh. Some men said they would find it awesome or a turn-on, but the majority of the couples said that a woman proposing to a man would be disappointing or outright refused.
The man is expected to be the one to pop the question because it’s “tradition” and “it’s a man’s job.” In such cases, the power to advance the relationship rests in the hands of the male partners only.
If this study baffles you, I’m with you. Women proposing to men shouldn’t be such a big deal, but here we are. A recent survey revealed that only 2% of heterosexual women propose to men. If you’re one of those rare women who wants to take matters into their own hands and shift cultural norms, this article is for you.
Things To Keep In Mind Before A Woman Proposes To A Man
Many people don’t like seeing women proposing to men, and they think their opinions matter to the point of indulging in casual sexism to harassment. This especially gets worse if you’re black or a woman of color. Here’s an example.
Joshua Jackson, after Jodie Turner-Smith’s proposal to him, hit back at trolls, “The internet is racist and misogynist. For anybody who is freaked out by a woman claiming her own space, shut the f—k up … Good God, you cannot believe the things people were leaving my wife on Instagram. She did it. I said ‘yes.’ We’re happy. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.”
Related Reading: Wrong Things Men Think & Believe About Women
When a woman proposes to man, it can ruffle a few feathers. To make sure your proposal doesn’t go sideways, here are some things to consider before you go shopping for engagement rings:
- Do you want to make it public? Are you prepared to deal with the sexism that might flow in with the praise?
Research suggests that proposals are successful when they: are private, are planned, have an engagement ring, are not done to save the relationship
- As per the same study, women proposing to men were less successful than proposals by men due to ‘tradition’ and gender norms. To counter that, make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to wanting to get married
- Is he secure? He needs to be the kind of guy who doesn’t care who proposes, as long as you both get married
- Make sure the engagement ring and its design are of his choice
- Ensure that he is dressed well, in case you’re planning to record everything
- Don’t propose on the day he’s sick, tired, overworked, or angry with you
- Steer clear of these myths behind women proposing to men: society thinks that women proposing to men are desperate, not desirable/wanted, pitiable, pushy, bossy, or arrogant. They also think it’s emasculating for men. None of this is true
- Be on the same page about couple goals like house, kids and their upbringing, distribution of responsibilities, finances, pets, religion, prenup, etc.
- If you propose to him, and he says no or tells you to wait, are you prepared for that and the conversations that will follow?
- How does it make you feel when you imagine him saying yes?
- Are you scared/nervous/excited/full of dread?
- Does the prospect of being married to him make you feel happy and safe?
- Are your wedding plans compatible? An extravagant affair or an intimate gathering, a destination wedding, or the backyard of someone’s childhood home … where do you see yourself tying the knot?
Surprising Psychological Benefits Of Women Proposing To Men
U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren, who’s been married to Bruce Hartling Mann since 1980, said, “I proposed to Bruce in a classroom. It was the first time I’d seen him teach, and I was already in love with him, but watching him teach let me see one more thing about him — and that was it. When class was over and the students had cleared out, he came up to me and asked, somewhat hesitantly: Uh, what did you think?” Warren said to him, “What can I say? Will you marry me?”
If she could do it in 1980, what’s stopping you from taking that leap in the 21st century? Did you already have the conversations you must have before marriage? If you have, and you wish to propose to your boyfriend but are still on the fence about whether it’s a good idea, the following psychological benefits of women making that decision may give you the nudge you need:
1. Kick the patriarchy, defy expectations
Women experience negative outcomes when they display dominance, as per research, and they are perceived as ‘strange’ according to this one. Clearly, we need to change things around.
- You don’t need a man to change your fate. If you’re a progressive couple, it makes even more sense to enact this grand gesture according to your aligned values
- When a woman proposes to man, it sets the tone for their relationship. She will always have an equal say
- You don’t want to be with a guy who flinches when a woman proposes to a man. Katie, 29, an artist from Grand Haven, Michigan, says, “Personally, I would struggle to be with a man who found the idea of being proposed to emasculating.”
And in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.” True, that’s probably why insecure men are the types of guys who stay single for a long time too.
2. A secure man feels loved and held, not emasculated by a woman’s proposal
Research demonstrates that men face backlash when they don’t adhere to masculine gender stereotypes — when they show vulnerability, act nicer, display empathy, express sadness, exhibit modesty, and proclaim to be feminists. But as per a study, men are drawn to romantic stimuli. Men want to feel connected to and loved by their partners as well!
Anthony, who was proposed to by his female partner, shared in this article, “Totally didn’t feel emasculated. We have always been equal to each other in our relationship so in that respect it shouldn’t matter who asked whom, just whoever would go first.”
You’ll get to plan a proposal that you both like. Also, him watching you propose has to be one of the best moments of his life – and you have the power to create it for him. So, go ahead and make your boyfriend feel loved.
3. It takes the pressure off your partner, and it’s ‘literally’ good for his health
Another similar study found that men are pressured to be in control, risk-taking, and dominant to be perceived as masculine and “real” men; this results in negative physical and mental health consequences for them. If your guy has unlearned that conditioning, he would love to be proposed to. This can also be your way of supporting your feminist man on his journey, and would ultimately have a positive effect on his overall health.
On a Reddit thread, a user shared her proposal story, “He cried. It was adorable. Made me love him so much more. I never realized that I could have that kind of emotional impact on someone.”
Related Reading: Stereotyping Men: Why It’s Time To Think Outside The ‘Man Box’
4. The relationship would feel a lot more stable and intimate to you
Female participants of a study found relationships in which they shared power to be more intimate and stable, and rated relationships in which they felt subordinate as less intimate and more tumultuous. When Britney Spears proposed to Kevin Federline in 2004, he said no because he wanted to be the one to pop the big question “properly”. I mean, we’re glad Britney Spears isn’t with him anymore, but gosh, if there ever was a red flag, it was THAT. They separated in 2006.
5. Women should propose to men because “it’s better to choose than to be chosen”
So says Jon Birger, author of Date-onomic. In Make Your Move: The New Science of Dating and Why Women Are in Charge, he shows via research that women can win at romance by making the first move with the men of their choice. It says that the “play hard to get with a guy” method is not only outdated but grounded in bad science.
So, should a woman propose to a man? Yes. Take control of the narrative, and be proactive in your romantic life. Waiting around for someone to do something versus doing it yourself, guess which is more empowering?
6. It’s good for your mutual happiness, and for your sex life too
Gender equality significantly improves life outcomes and happiness for all gender groups, albeit slightly more so for women, as per this report. And according to this study, relationship satisfaction and sexual desire increase for women when the relationship is equal.
Makes sense. Gender equality in a marriage/relationship breeds a sense of freedom and safety. This amplifies emotional intimacy, which of course, makes you hot for your partner.
Other great benefits of asking his hand in marriage:
- You feel sexy as hell
- You gain his admiration and respect
- You get to plan and execute the proposal the way YOU want it; nothing’s missing at all
- Hearing him say yes, you feel relieved and affirmed, needed and wanted, and you’re more confident about your future
- You feel complete certainty about what you want in a partner
- Can a woman propose to a man to set an example for other women? Yes
- Being the one who plans this romantic gesture for him, you get to experience your own vulnerability. This is good for you if expressing feelings has always been a tricky area
- It’s exciting! You’ll enjoy it
- If your male partner sucks at romantic gestures, it makes sense that you do it. You’re doing something you’re good at. This way, you both get the benefit of a well-crafted memory
How Should A Woman Propose To A Man? 19 Ways
Sometimes, a marriage proposal is just a practical decision. A user on Reddit shared, “I was financially kind of well off, but him, not so much. I knew he couldn’t afford a ring that he would believe would be of high enough standard for me even though I would love any ring he got me, no matter what price. I loved him, so I thought why not! Luckily he said yes.”
Whether you kiss him on New Year’s Eve and ask him to marry you, or you blurt it out in the middle of a heated game of Scrabble, remember that simplicity often has a more direct road to the heart. So, how should a woman propose to a man? Here are 19 women proposing to men ideas for you.
1. A little him, a little you
Add elements that you’re personally fond of, and make his personality a central part of your proposal as well. His favorite flowers, his favorite colors, place, food (maybe you can make it at home), his favorite fragrance, restaurant, music, the ring that goes with his personality, etc. He will feel seen, he will know his girlfriend pays attention to his thoughts and likes, and he’ll feel at home with so much familiarity around him. The idea is to make him feel comfortable.
Related Reading: 20 Best Proposal Ideas At Home
2. Nature lovers can find the perfect proposal setting anywhere
Among the best proposal ideas, this one speaks to the intimacy of your relationship. Pull a Schitt’s Creek moment where Patrick takes David on a hike and proposes marriage at the end of it. So, go on a hike, do it in the quiet of the woods, or at a beautiful lake. You would remember this peaceful moment forever. You can make a ritual of it by doing this same hike/trip on every anniversary. A lovely sentimental gift for your husband indeed.
3. Pop the question right after sex, and then make love
There’s something about amazing sex that lights up the rest of your desires. Your emotions are in sync, you’re at peace, you did exactly what you know he loves in bed, you’re pressed against each other, and completely in love. This is the right time to be completely naked in love and bare it all.
4. Proposing the right way is an ‘art’
Are you an artist? If you’re a singer, create a romantic song. Or sing/play an existing one. End it with the proposal and a ring. If you’re a painter/sketch artist, then create a portrait of both of you at the altar. Tell him excitedly you’ve created a new piece, bring him toward the canvas. Uncover it and get down on one knee.
You can paint the words on the portrait, or say them as you look up at him. If you let your creativity steer your plan, there will be no dearth of women proposing to men ideas. If you’re a guy reading this, remember that a woman will always display plenty of signs that she is ready to be your wife.
5. Ensure the presence of his biggest support system
Who’s the person he would call as soon as the surprise of the proposal wears off? Invite that person to meet you after so that he can get to share this joy with them immediately. You’ve probably told your friends and family, and maybe even his friends and family about what you’re about to do. You have plenty of support and encouragement. He deserves that too.
6. Make his friends help you with the marriage proposal
Maybe they can drive him to the spot you’ve decided, make excuses for you, delay him, redirect him, etc. They’d be happy to. This Reddit user shared, “I proposed to my husband. He loves practical jokes, so I talked to his work buddies. They called him pretending that his current project was on fire (he is an engineer). He drove in and was carefully disassembling his project, looking for the fire when he found the titanium ring. It was attached with wiring to a piece of sheet metal, which was engraved with “Marry me?”.
Related Reading: Women Making The First Move And Proposing
7. Honor the firsts of your relationship
Propose to him at the place where you first met, went on your first date, where you had your first kiss, first realized you’re in love, first made each other cry with laughter after a really bad joke, first fought for each other, with each other, where you had your first intense moment as a couple and had to get through a rough patch – you get the drift.
8. Pull a Monica from Friends
If he likes pranks, call him and tell him a lie about you/the relationship being in trouble. Let him rush to you. Enamor him with scores of fragrant candles around the apartment and words that come from the heart. He’ll curse you but you’ll have a good laugh together.
9. Propose to him on social media
My favorite women proposing to men story is this: Actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard only wanted to marry once marriage equality became legal in California. In 2013, when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in California, Bell popped the question in a tweet: “@daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo #marriageequality #loveislove”.
He replied: “F*** yes!!!!!!!!!!!” Everlasting love, strong women, secure men, and allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community – we love to see it.
10. Order his favorite cake
Tell him you’ve never been this hungry and that only cake can satisfy your hunger pangs. Pre-order the cake he loves, from the place he loves. Have the words “Will you marry me?” written on it, get down on one knee when he opens the box, and pop the question. This is one of the most romantic things you can say to your husband (or rather, soon-to-be husband). Also, you both get to celebrate with cake when he says yes. Practical, simple, delicious.
11. Wing it
Can a woman propose to a man without planning? Yes. Take a special moment that’s meaningful and romantic, and make it even more memorable. Nothing fancy, no prep, just an intimate memory that means the world to both of you. In Gilmore Girls, Lorelai, after being moved by Luke’s fierce love for her daughter, Rory, says out of the blue, “Luke, will you marry me?” They couldn’t even find wine afterward to celebrate the moment. It was raw, it was unplanned, it was imperfect, it was perfect.
Related Reading: The Kind Of Girlfriend You Are, Based On Your Zodiac Sign
12. Turn your vacation into a marriage proposal opportunity
He’s relaxed, you’re relaxed. There are no emails on your mind. You have the perfect setting, and a great opportunity to languish in each other’s arms without any distraction for a whole day or two to celebrate the engagement. Think about this idea the next time you travel with your partner.
Bethan shares in this article, “I had planned a little mini-break and thought that proposing during the trip would be a nice idea. We were sitting on a rooftop terrace. We both had a drink in hand as the sun was setting and it seemed like the perfect moment – so I asked. No ring, no script. Just a clear question.”
13. Edit his favorite movie
Don’t edit anything out. The idea is to make him want you more, not break up with you. Watch his favorite movie while snuggled together on the couch. Have the words “I want to date you like this forever. Will you marry me?” on the screen right after the movie ends.
Another movie-related proposal idea from a Reddit user: “He had just gotten off a miserable 12-hour shift and came home at two in the morning. I had candles lit, dinner made, and had created a box that held all the blessings from everyone in his family. I also got him the One Ring. From LOTR. He was thrilled and had no idea it was coming.”
14. Manufacture a series of fortunate events before your big proposal
All you long-distance relationship warriors, this one’s for you. Keep sending him stuff throughout the day. It could be little things that he loves, his favorite chocolate gifts and boxes, his favorite food, a movie poster or a piece of art he admired earlier. Or you could keep sending him notes all through the day too. On each of them, you’d write what you love about him.
Time it correctly – it should either be a weekend or the day he’s at home. In the end, send a beautiful note in an envelope that says, “Did the bribes work? Will you marry me or not?”
15. Annoy the living daylights out of him
Tell him to fetch something from the kitchen. Do this again. Ask him questions you know the answer to. Tell him to go to the bedroom and get you your jacket because you’re suddenly cold. Make a fuss. Exasperate him. Get him to regret ever falling in love with you.
When he enters the bedroom, the bed is filled with flowers that spell out “Will you marry me?”. A great way to pester him, confess your everlasting love, and then make love on the same bed: all indicators of how the upcoming marriage will look like.
Related Reading: 21 Qualities Of A Good Man To Look For To Get Married
16. Give him a virtual surprise
People in LDRs, another one for you. Get on a video call. Get his friend to drop a package right outside his door in the middle of the call. They will ring the bell and leave. Tell him you sent something for him. He gets up, comes back with the package, unwraps it in front of you, and sees the engagement ring.
That’s when you get down on one knee on the other side of the screen and ask him to marry you. You can record this too! If he is turned off by this or gets offended, then you know that’s one of the relationship red flags to watch out for already.
17. Make a public spectacle of your romantic proposal
In 2005, as the motocross racer, Carey Hart, began his third lap around the track, the singer-songwriter Pink held up a pit board that read, “Will U Marry Me?” When he didn’t pull over, she added “Serious!” for his fourth lap. They married next year.
If this is what he’s into, then go for it. It’s just one of those crazy things that couples do. Sing a song for him at a karaoke bar, propose in front of complete strangers, and celebrate by getting drunk after. If you’re on a bus/train/plane, stand up and propose to him by telling him you want to ride with him forever. Some passengers would be thrilled for you, others might groan. As long as he says yes, nothing else should matter.
18. Do it somewhere that means a lot to both of you
If your boyfriend or you have a place that holds significance in your respective lives, or if it’s a place that is important to the both of you, then it makes sense to add romance to the already warm vibes there. It could be the site of your first date after meeting online. Or the spot you always associate with a relaxed time.
Lucy shared her ‘women proposing to men’ story here, “I’d decided to propose in the park as I wanted it to be somewhere we go a lot, rather than a one-off place (like on holiday). I hung up some pom-poms and wrote, ‘Will you marry me?’ on bunting. I knew I didn’t want the moment to be reliant on me saying anything, in case I was overwhelmed or nervous. As we got to the top of the hill, I just pointed at it and burst into tears.”
19. If nothing works, threaten him
As per a user on Reddit, “My brother’s wife proposed to him after 20 years of living together. She got “will you marry me” engraved on a carving knife. So, he couldn’t really say no haha.” For legal purposes, we are kidding.
- Women proposing marriage are rare because of outdated gender roles, pressure to conform, fear of dismissal/ridicule by others, attack on the guy’s masculinity, and the need to see a guy in the dominant role
- Before you go ahead with your romantic proposal, make sure your marriage goals align with each other
- Ensure that your man is secure enough to not feel emasculated at the thought of you proposing to him
- Proposing to him would make you feel great about yourself and the relationship, foster mutual intimacy and security, improve your mental health, and will help you defy patriarchal norms
- Propose to your boyfriend when he’s in a good mood, by including elements of your memories together or something specific to his personality, make him feel special and cared for, and surprise him in a way that is not necessarily expensive
Bell Hooks, activist and writer, said, “Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.” Let’s change the narrative, through one woman proposing to a man at a time.
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