Wise Guys: What Would You Think of a Woman Proposing?

Advice from three of EMandLO.com’s guy friends. This week they answer the following: “Would most men be cool with a woman proposing marriage to them? (assuming they’re in a serious committed relationship where marriage has become an unspoken expectation for both parties).” To ask the guys your own question, click here.

anonymous_suitStraight Married Guy (Figleaf): I was pretty cool with it!

We’d been in a serious committed relationship for years, and I’d known almost right away that I wanted to marry her. The expectation had even gone from unspoken to spoken when her fairly conservative mom cornered us coming out of a hotel room together on a family trip and said, “So what’s the deal with you two?” We stammered a bit and my partner blurted out “But we’re going to get married.” And I nodded vigorously. Now, at the moment it wasn’t strictly true. We’d talked about it a lot but never made an actual decision. We talked about it later, a bit surprised that in our mid-thirties we were still making excuses. I think I said we should make it official. She said “Should we do it?” and I said yes. And we stopped being nervous staying in the same hotel room around her mom. But not until we really were married.

Anyway, while there seems to be a resurgence of “tradition” where people sometimes fly to special destinations just to pop the question and where guys are “formally” asking the bride’s fathers for their daughter’s “hand in marriage,” I think it’s also fine for women to pop the question instead. I also think that if a guy can’t handle being proposed to at the very least with grace and good humor, then he’d be kind of a brittle husband anyway.

joel_derfner_100Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I think most men would probably feel at the very least uncomfortable if a woman proposed to them. Just or not, gender expectations are very powerful in society, and when it comes to things like this I think it’s impossible not to be aware of the taboos involved. My husband proposed to me, and I told him he had to; the closest I can come to explaining is that I wanted to be the girl, though I’m speaking of course in the most metaphorical of senses. (It took him forever, and when he finally did it and I asked him what had led him to take the plunge, he said, “I just decided that I would only propose to you if you didn’t nag me about it for a month, and you just kept nagging, so I kept postponing.”) There must be exceptions, but gender expectations create powerful taboos, and I suspect that even a particularly enlightened man would see this as an instance of the difference between “equal” and “the same.”

Straight Single Guy (Tom Miller): Did she ask my mom first? Am I getting the ring I’ve had my heart set on since I was a little boy? I have a good friend who proposed to her husband and I thought it was pretty cool. I’ve certainly been asked out by a few ladies and I’m not sure why this is too-too different. I’m not sure what the engagement ring protocol is at that point, but I’m sure we’d figure it out. And if she felt goofy about the whole thing later, we could always go through the dad/ring/bent knee/flop sweat/she said yes motions of the traditional proposal.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. Tom Miller writes the Tomfoolery blog for YourTango; this week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish; and our Straight Married Guy is Figleaf, the guy behind RealAdultSex.com. To ask the guys your own question, click here.