Sex & Relationships

“Is It Weird to Ask My Guy to Marry Me?”

Our super-smart sex and relationship columnist, Kate Carraway, weighs in

On Nashville Juliette proposed to Sean.  ABC

On Nashville, Juliette flipped the switch and proposed to Sean. Photo: Courtesy ABC

Is it normal now for women to ask guys to marry them, or is it still considered weird?

The problem with coming to any common conclusions about what goes on in relationships is that they’re so specifically private, even for couples who like to demonstrate their love for each other in public (Jay Z and Beyoncé; those married friends who post on each other’s Facebook walls with such abandon and veracity that it’s reasonable to wonder if they ever say things just to each other, or, if they have sex). If it would be “normal” or “weird” for you to propose depends on the microclimate of your own relationship, which only you and your boyfriend could possibly know about.

“Normal” vs. “weird” is always going to be an impossible and kind of dumb paradigm anyway, because, like, normal to who? Weird to who? (It’s probably supposed to be “whom” in both of those cases, but guuuuh.) Generally speaking, sure, we can say that it’s still considered pretty weird, and would probably be considered weird by your friends and family. Maybe not weird-weird, like bad-weird, but surprising and less common than a dude on one knee, sure.

Buuut, so? Non-bored people are usually not interested in being gossipy-shady about other people’s lives, so it could be that no one in your pal-community even really notices. In fact, it could make you look extra chic, you know? French-ish. Or, it could be that someone or all of your someones will have some judgey, disapprovey stuff to say to you about it, because that’s what happens when people are confronted by a shift in social norms and are made uncomfortable. Such is humans.

Regardless of what you do, know that the ways in which weddings and marriage happen is changing, fast. (Also, gay marriage should be making all of this who-says-and-does-what stuff less of an issue for hetero couples overall, right?) The traditional straight-people proposal already feels kind of… random, when it’s a non-spontaneous formalization of an agreement made by two adults who probably already live together in an apartment full of cool kitchen supplies and decent bedding, and who have definitely talked about and decided on marriage (and who might have gone and bought a ring, or rings, together). Does it matter who between them actually says “Marry me”?

It’s not just proposals: all the performative aspects of marriage—the rings, the parties, the showers, the wedding, the names, the social-media presentations of all of the above—are total cultural heat scores right now. Weddings, while still a delightful opportunity for fun, for essential, life-affirming ritual, for cute outfits, and for kissing, are also subject to a simultaneous insistence on and contempt for doing all those things a certain (read: traditional) way—deciding what is polite, sexist, nice, ridiculous, expensive, pretty, overreaching, exciting, lame and so forth has become this serious girl-subculture on its own. How your many marriage-choices—from the proposal on up—will be received by your family, friends and guests (and “guestemies” if we can take “frenemy” in that direction) is pretty much a dice roll. Do you care?

Maybe what you’re asking is less “is it normal” (because, to reiterate: “???”) and more “should I do this,” or “is this thing I’m thinking about doing even worth thinking about”? Obviously, I think you should do whatever you want to do. (An important aside: is “you do you” the greatest slang development of this century?) Really, do whatever you want, instead of making wedding and marriage and relationship choices to fulfill someone else’s ideas of what is cool, correct, whatever.

And, consider, for a moment, a scene from the crazily underrated TV show, Nashville—a nighttime soap that is actually so good!—when country-pop star Juliette Barnes proposes to her football-player boyfriend, with a flower in her hair and all arranged like a beautiful spray-tanned sculpture among a whole mess of candles. Yes, I know it’s TV, but like any proposal, it was vulnerability come to life, laid bare in front of another person; done in the less-traditional way, it takes on another whole angle of that vulnerability. What is marriage but an opportunity to be vulnerable together? (He said yes, by the way.)

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How Do I Get Over a Guy?
Why Aren’t I More Obsessed With My BF?