What men really think when a woman proposes.

Proposing to  my boyfriend is not something I’ve ever thought about. Partly because any engagement is a long way off. But also because, despite my very proactive, pro-woman approach to life, I’ve always assumed my significant other would be the one doing the proposing. And I would be pleasantly surprised by their beautiful-personal-romantic-gesture (and hopefully also willing to say yes). You can tell I’ve seen too many chick flicks.

It never crossed my mind to ask the question myself.

I certainly applaud women who have done it, or who are thinking about doing it. I know that it’s old-fashioned, silly even, that a man should be the one to ask a woman for her hand in marriage. That the concept detracts from a woman’s own agency and prerogative to choose. But a lifetime of conditioning (and those chick flicks) has meant it’s never crossed my mind.

But last week a woman in the office said she wants to be the one to propose to her boyfriend. This made it seem more like a possibility for me – not something done by other people, to other people. She also said reading about other women who have proposed – for example, actress Tasma Walton proposing to radio personality Rove McManus – made her feel more “normal” about wanting to do it herself.

All of a sudden, it was closer to home. “Hey, why can’t I do it?”

The problem, she said, was her boyfriend’s reaction. The fact that he, also, wanted to be the one to propose. That it was something he’d always thought about doing. That he’d grown up expecting to be the one asking, not being asked.


It made me think about the reaction of other men. How a woman proposing might make them feel. I mined Reddit for some insight.

Many men want to get there first

I’d be ecstatic if my girl proposed to me, but that is something I want to do, and I’ve been looking forward to it my whole life. – Trippdawg1123

I would of course be very happy to be engaged but at the same time a little disappointed as I already have an idea in my head as to how I’d like to propose to my girlfriend. – Soggypastry

I know the traditional “men should propose” is outdated…but I really want to be the one to do it. I wanna own that -Bababenj

I’m a very progressive individual, but proposing is something I’ve looked forward to all of my life. – WheresTheSauce

One man made sure he was the one to ask…

He said no. I was pretty embarrassed. But then he proposed a month later, and had been planning to for a while. – Purpleelephantdance

A lot of men love the idea

I felt lucky and happy and said yes. When we started dating she made it clear that she was not interested in a ‘married’ relationship, i.e. she had already been married once, and was not interested in doing it again. But a few years later, out of the blue she casually said, “we should get married”. We did, and will be celebrating our 12th anniversary in a few weeks. – Andergaff

My fiance and I agreed on it at the kind of same time. But she surprised me in bed one night while I was sleeping and put it on my finger. I rolled back over and went to sleep heavy sleeper. I’m happiest I’ve ever been in life. – Roarcuba


She did and it was perfect. We get married next June. – Sdmadsen

I would be very happy, because the idea that only men should propose is ridiculous and outdated. – MafiaKitten

I always thought it was emasculating, but my current girlfriend has changed that for sure, it would be an honour. It’s all in the girl. – Brim_stoned

Probably would have enjoyed it. Definitely would catch me by surprise. – broccolibush42

My wife proposed to me. I thought it was awesome! I was planning to ask her on New Years Eve, and she beat me too it and asked me on Christmas Eve. Never felt emasculated and still think it was awesome. – Zetalin

Some were relieved at dodging the pressure (and expense)

I was personally relieved I didn’t have to do it. I’d just started searching for rings when she proposed, and was really happy about it. – OhNo789

If I wanted to marry her I’d be happy. And relieved – HighOnGoofballs

Relieved. My proposal plan is going to be expensive. – The-Ejj

There is the inevitable ’emasculating’ reaction

Honestly, the hardest thing about the whole situation is other people’s reactions. Every guy I’ve talked to has almost looked down on me for it. I still wouldn’t have had it happen any other way, but it is very frustrating that a lot of people just don’t understand. – OhNo789



One man thinks it’d be a welcome change

It would be a nice change from the constant hint dropping. – Ilikewaterandjuice

And, for others, it’s all about equality

I proposed in a hot air ballon, and then we traveled to a quaint little town where she proposed to me at a French cafe! It was awesome! It felt like we were both meeting as partners and equals whilst simultaneously saying, “I want you!” – Calriz

[A friend’s story] They we’re both married for a few years, and things got kind of rocky. He owned a business and started working in another state. A few months go by and the relationship gets worse, and eventually he just calls and says “just send me whatever I need to sign, I’m done.” After a few more months go by, he comes home and his wife gives him a ring. She says “this is for you… keep it, sell it, throw it away…whatever. I’m giving this to you because I want to be married to you.” And he took the ring and they’ve been (re)married for over 10 years now. – OneManGOONsquad

We both proposed to each other and she did so first. We talked about the idea of being married. In this communication, it became clear that we both wanted to propose. So, we agreed upon a date of ‘open season’ for proposals, at which point we’d both have our rings for each other figured out and it’d be fair game! She proposed to me first, surprised me with how she did it, and I proposed to her about 3 weeks later with my own little surprise. – Nothinglostnothing