Image: “Oh, what a… surprise!” (via The Notebook).
Although I’ve never done it myself, I’ve always assumed the act of proposing would be an authentic, heartfelt gesture borne out of a genuine desire — with no external pressures — to spend your life with the person you love.
Well, I now understand the depth of my naivety, and it’s all thanks to my best friend Ellie*.
Ellie and her boyfriend Tom* have been together since our uni days. There’s always been a bit of a Type A-Type B dynamic going on — Ellie is incredibly organised and likes to micro-manage every aspect of her life (and the lives of everyone around her), while Tom is a bit more… relaxed. Put it this way, you couldn’t really describe him as ‘proactive’.
Regardless, they really love each other and until about a year ago they seemed to be chugging along contentedly… and then Ellie decided she would rather like to be married. And soon.
This is mainly because we’ve hit the age where our paired-up friends are tying the knot with more ferocity than a squad of Girl Scouts. The invitations have been arriving thick and fast, and every second day another “I/she said yes!” ring shot appears on social media.
Ellie desperately wants to join their ranks. While her agitation is obvious to me, it seems Tom isn’t picking up on her ‘I want to be your wife’ vibes. She hasn’t gone so far as to say those exact words to his face, but I know she’s dropped the topic of getting married into conversation and only received an infuriatingly vague response.
It’s also worth mentioning that Tom does not respond well to being told what to do. So where do I come into all this? Well, Ellie’s now enlisted me to pull an Inception and plant the seed of wedded bliss in Tom’s sub-conscious — without him realising it, of course. And I’ve agreed to go along with it because I know how much she wants this. (Post continues after gallery.)
Although we’re in the early stages, it’s quite an elaborate ruse. My phone is now full of screenshots of beautiful diamond rings — curated by Ellie, of course — to “casually” show Tom in the rare moments when we’re chatting in her absence.
For circumstances where we’re socialising as a trio, I’ve also been charged with steering our conversations towards the topic of weddings and marriage.
Again, it’s hard to achieve this with any subtlety. My segues have included everything from, “I saw the most beautiful wedding on the way here, you should have seen the dress” to, “Did you see so-and-so from college is engaged now?” and even, “Oh my god, I think that guy over there is proposing!” (Turns out he was just struggling to pull his keys out of his jean pocket. Oops.)
The three of us are off to a wedding in a few weeks' time, so I'm sure there's an expectation on me to make wistful remarks along the lines of, "Weddings are just so lovely" and "Do you think you want to get married one day, Tom?"
You're probably wondering why Ellie doesn't just take matters into her own hands and ask Tom to marry her. I've asked her this myself.
The truth is, although Ellie has never hesitated to chase after what she wants, she plays it coy when it comes to love.
She's a bit traditional and romantic — she likes to be wooed, and while she'd never discourage another woman from proposing, that's not the way she wants her own love story to play out. (Post continues after gallery.)
I get it. Having someone ask you to be with them forever must be incredibly moving. But to me, enlisting your best mate to prod your boyfriend into popping the question is far from romantic. Actually, it's a bit deranged — and I say that with love because it's my best friend we're talking about here.
Right now I feel like a one-woman Greek chorus, and I'm tempted to just tell Tom what's going on so he can just get the proposal over and done with and allow me to return to my own life.
With any luck, Tom will reach that conclusion himself and they'll get married and be very happy together — and when that day comes, I will take great joy in deleting every single one of those diamond rings from my Camera Roll.
Have you ever been involved in making a proposal happen? How did that work out?
* This author has chosen to remain anonymous, and names have been changed, for very obvious reasons.