real life

"The one thing that changed when I got engaged."

how engagement changes people

Up until four months ago, the world greeted me each morning with a smile, a high-five and a free coffee.

Well, not always, literally, but it certainly sometimes felt like that.

You see, when you’re an unattached woman living in a city full of single men, the invitations to parties are plentiful. The queues at the sandwich shop a little friendlier. The bouncers at bars a little more eager to invite you to the front of the line. The men on the train keen to offer up their seats.

But six months ago, I got engaged. And the sparkling vintage band I’ve started wearing? That thing has magical powers. You see, I think I’ve become invisible since my partner slipped it onto my finger.

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My coffee shop guy has stopped striking up a conversation. He’s not rude or hostile now; he just fixes his gaze above my head and continues his conversation with the waitress rather than drop me a “hey.”

I also haven’t been asked once for my number since I got engaged. Oh – except when I went on holiday and left my ring behind for safekeeping; strangely enough, dozens of men offered to show me the local sights…

how engagement changes people
“The sparkling vintage band I’ve started wearing? That thing has magical powers.”

And maybe I’m being paranoid but I could have sworn men used to stop me on the street to ask directions a couple of times a week.

All of a sudden, as soon as I started sporting some serious bling on my left hand, all the handsome lost men in the city found someone else to assist them.

Some other 20-something woman with a conspicuously bare finger, I suspect.

I hope I don’t sound bitter. It’s not that I miss the attention of men (well not that much).

It’s just that the experience has opened my eyes to something I’d naively overlooked until now: the fact that many of my regular interactions — not with my true friends and family, of course, but with new acquaintances — were based on attraction, or flirtation, or… possibility.

By declaring my choice to get married, the possibility of sex — and if not sex, then at least hanging out in anything other than a casual friends kind-of-way — was drastically reduced.

In a nutshell, by wearing that ring, I became a whole lot less worth making an effort with.

With that realisation, a teeny, tiny piece of my belief in the inherent loveliness of humanity has shriveled.

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But it’s not all bad. And it’s not just my interactions with men that have changed.

Other engaged and married couples automatically invite my partner to events now, as if he and I were a twin set. It’s a subtle shift but, to be honest, a relief to be able to make plans together rather than painstakingly coordinate our nightly schedules.

And older, married women in particular can sense the difference in me. They instinctively know I’m becoming one of them — and when we’re alone, they lapse into fluent-wedding speak as if they’d been raised on a word-diet of carats, veil lengths and invitation etiquette.

It’s a revelation — like a much sweeter version of the moment Angelica Houston peels off her human face to reveal her true identity in Witches (remember that?). I’m learning married and engaged women will relax their guards and enable one another’s marriage-speak when they’re among their own kind.

It’s like being initiated into a club. A club that my single friends would find daggy and deranged and retro if they could see it. (And I don’t let them — well, much — because I don’t want them to start treating me differently too.)

womenchathow engagement changes people
“Married and engaged women will relax their guards and enable one another’s marriage-speak when they’re among their own kind.”

So yes, I’m in the no-longer-single club. And all of a sudden, instead of trading flirty innuendo, I’m trading tips on catering costs.

The world is treating me differently now, and it’s startling.

But it’s the tiniest bit lovely.

Do you think the world treats engaged and married people differently to single people? Did you notice any changes after you got engaged?

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