I proposed to my boyfriend, and it was absolutely perfect

As little girls, we hear all these fairytales about princes rescuing princesses, or pulling damsels in distress onto the backs of horses before whisking them off to be married. In these stories, we are supposed to want to be the princesses — we are supposed to want to be the damsels.

We are also told that getting married should be a life goal, that it will give us a sense of worth. If we don’t want it, there’s something wrong with us. On the other hand, if we do want to be married, we are meant to sit back and wait to be asked. We aren’t encouraged to take the initiative to make it happen for ourselves, and we are often discouraged from bringing it up to our partners. The implication here is that women are not supposed to propose, and that doing so would be a desperate move. 

If a proposal is something that happens when someone decides they want to spend their life with someone else, why is it that only men are allowed to ask the question? In today’s society, most people live together before getting married, and chances are most couples have had a serious conversation or two about their future together. From that point, why should either of them have to wait to ask?

I’ve always thought that most of the traditions surrounding marriage were outdated and sexist, including those regarding who should propose. Even further, I never cared much about getting married. I never thought about what my own wedding would look like growing up, or dreamed of the perfect dress. But then I met Paul, who came into my life at it’s rockiest point and shook up my world. Neither of us meant for anything serious to develop, but it did, and soon I was head over heels, crazy in love. For the first time, I could see myself being happy with one person for a lifetime. I had found someone I could grow and learn with, who wanted the same things out of life.

The idea of making promises to one another, in front of the people we love the most, seemed like the next step in our journey together. We talked about it a few times, and had both said out loud we wanted to make the commitment, but we were still a little nervous about the idea (he had been married before, and I had been engaged once — neither worked out well).

I kind of thought he would do it when he was ready and that maybe, I should wait, but then I sat down and thought, “Why?” I wasn’t able to come up with a single good answer. Our entire relationship had been the opposite of by-the-books, so why should our proposal be any different? Of course, I had the voices in my head saying, “you’re supposed to let him ask” and “what if it’s not what you thought it would be?” and worst of all “what will people say?” Thankfully, I realized pretty quickly that none of that mattered, and all that did was the way I felt.

That was that, and I came up with a plan to ask him on our upcoming trip to New York City. We both love to travel (we’ve seen ten countries and 18 cities in less than three years together!) so it made sense to do it on a trip. I knew he really wanted to see the view from the Empire State Building, so when we were up at the top I told him how much I loved him, and asked him to marry me. I didn’t get down on one knee or give him a ring — it was simple, honest and real.

He said yes, and then surprised me by suggesting we go together to pick a ring the next day. I hadn’t even thought about a ring; in all honesty the ring was one of the things that turned me off about getting engaged. I don’t love it when people seem more excited about what your ring looks like than they are about the fact that you just decided to spend your lives together. We chose to do it on our terms, and choose a ring simply as a symbol of our commitment — we decided to chose a simple, modest ring without a big diamond, deciding that we’d use the money we saved to plan another trip together.

Our friends and family were so happy for us, and I didn’t get a single negative comment about being the one to propose. In fact, I had loads of female friends and acquaintances tell me how brave and cool they thought it was that I popped the question. While some people may think our story is a little strange or nontraditional, I can honestly say that I don’t care. All that matters is that I have a beautiful memory of our decision to spend our lives together, and now I am one of the lucky people who can truly say I’m married to the love of my life.

Rhiannon Louden is a Canadian writer & photographer living in Glasgow, Scotland. She is a travel addict, canine enthusiast and reformed cynic who loves craft beers and will never be a morning person. Find her on her blog and on Instagram & Twitter.

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