What it's Really Like to Propose to your Boyfriend

Three girls share their stories of 'popping the question.

My boyfriend and I didn't exactly have a 'traditional' proposal. I had a broken leg and was sitting on a commode, with him by my side as a doting nurse. I proposed the agreement to be together forever. How could I not love someone who'd been emptying that commode for the past week? Plus, we'd "joked" about marriage so much, even when we were "just friends", that it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

These slightly eccentric circumstances weren't the only ways we broke with tradition. It was I who chose that moment to (metaphorically) get down on one knee, not my male partner. Discussing with friends and family later on how it had all unfolded, though, I began to ponder just quite how unusual we were in having flipped round those gender roles. "Would you ever have asked me?" I enquired of my partner. "No," he giggled. "I'd have been terrified. I'm so glad you asked me."

A study by the University of California found that two thirds of students would "definitely" want the man to propose, 2.8% of women would "kind of" be up for proposing to the man… and none of the men surveyed expressed a preference for the man popping the question. I spoke to some other women who, like me, dared to fly in the face of the status quo, and asked them why and how they did it.

"A Venice apartment with a canal view" was the scene of the proposal for Sophie, 30.

"I proposed while we were travelling, and had hidden the ring in the middle of a CD of our favourite music, in a case with the middle bashed out.

"My fiance is laid back about marriage either way, so I felt it was only right I asked. Also, breaking tradition was important to me, especially since I'd seen marriage as quite anti-feminist originally.

"He wasn't surprised at all about me doing the proposing, and said he wouldn't have expected anything less.

"I don't think people question tradition enough. We're told it's the way around it should be. It's a weird argument to me that something should be done a certain way just because it's the way it's always been. More women should break with tradition and do the asking. It's not the Victorian times any more"

Briony, 25, was less sure about suggesting marriage to her boyfriend at the beginning of last year, but went ahead with it anyway as he showed no signs of being about to do it himself.

"We got together pretty young, when we were both 17, so I was pretty sure he was the one and that we felt the same way after all these years. But I just kept expecting him to be the one who asked, because that's how it usually works.

"In the end I worded my proposal in a really clumsy way because I was so nervous. He didn't even understand what I was trying to say at first. I was like 'Er, do you want to make this, um, official?' and he kept saying 'We've been going out for eight years, what do you mean?!'

"Of course once he understood what I was actually getting at, he accepted immediately. I asked why he'd not asked me first, and he said he'd been afraid I would say no. I was a bit suspicious that maybe it was an excuse, but once we'd gone through with the wedding I knew everything was fine."

So, if you want to marry your partner, why not make like me, Sophie and Briony and do the asking? The more of us who bite the bullet, the more women who will follow in our wake.

By Charlotte Dingle

See the full story on Cosmopolitan.co.uk

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