That’s not romantic!

So there’s this guy and he organises a local choir to serenade his girlfriend on the train into work. It’s a big job to get everyone required onto the train at the right time. She almost derailed the scheme by deciding to take the car to work that day – forcing the boyfriend to sabotage her car to make sure she got the train after all. So far so good. Romantic, if a bit embarrassing. But then he ruins it all by proposing to her in the train carriage. At that point I turn away in disgust.

I hate public proposals. They are not romantic.

What? I hear you cry. How can that not be romantic? Declaring his love and his desire to marry her in front of the whole world?

But it’s not. It’s manipulation disguised as romance. It doesn’t matter if it’s in front of thousands at a sports stadium, or a couple of dozen friends and family at a party, the public proposal is an attempt to put the woman (and it’s nearly always a woman) into a position where she can’t say no. Whether that’s done from insecurity about her answer, or a misguided sense of what’s romantic no doubt varies. I’m sure most of these men don’t consider themselves to be hatching an evil scheme to trap their girlfriend into marriage.

I’m also sure many of the women do find it romantic and their Yes answer is sincere. But what about the ones who don’t? What about the ones who feel manoeuvred into saying yes? Think of the position of the woman in this scenario. This man she’s presumably very fond of, even in love with, bares his soul in front of others. He risks a humiliating public rejection. How can she hurt him that way? She’ll have to say yes to spare him the humiliation, even if she’d have said no in private. And for her own sake – if she turns him down in public, crushing him in front of dozens or even thousands of people, she becomes the villain. The bitch who metaphorically kicked her boyfriend in the nuts in front of the whole world. Naturally, she doesn’t want to be in that position. This woman and some others you can find on You Tube at least had the guts to refuse to be manipulated and to be the villain in that scenario. And listen to the boos as she hurries away off that basketball court. Like she did something wrong there.

Don’t even get me started on this Russian jackass.
Man fakes death to show girlfriend how meaningless life would be without him, then proposes.

Men, respect the women you love and let them give a free and honest answer to that question. Be a man and don’t take along “backup” to a marriage proposal. Trying to manipulate the answer you want from her makes you a passive aggressive asshole and not the romantic guy you claim to be.

11 thoughts on “That’s not romantic!

  1. Hear, hear! It’s only romantic if you expect no reward.

    As for public proposals – manipulation indeed. Since it’s been on TV a million times I imagine you’ve seen the ’80s film Working Girl. One of my favourite scenes (because it does show the strength of the lead female character) is where she turns down a public proposal. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what springs immediately to mind.

    I’m also not too keen on the “he organised a trip to Paris/Rome/Wherever so he could propose” scenario as that suggests to my sceptic mind that he wouldn’t have organised the trip if he hadn’t had that ulterior motive (though at least it’s often then a private proposal).

    Apparently I scuppered several plans from my now-husband where he wanted to take me out for the day and surprise me. In the end, he marched me into a jewellers during a Christmas shopping trip in Milton Keynes, said “Which ring do you like?” then assured me that ‘yes, he really did mean it’ while we ate our baked potatoes under the tropical plants…

    1. Been a lot of years since I saw Working Girl. Shoulder pad-a-go-go.

      I think as well people have this idea of what’s romantic fed to them, involving fancy restaurants and flowers and weekends in Paris. But what’s really romantic is individual to every couple. Real romantic gestures aren’t about bringing someone flowers or chocolates, but the things they do for each other that show they are thinking about each other and wanting to do something that makes the other person happy. And something that costs time and effort, rather than just money.

  2. Don’t think it’s necessarily manipulative, because that implies the proposer’s consciously trying to back their partner into a corner.

    Definitely a bad idea on the most part – some people are exhibitionists and love sharing their feelings with the world, but on the whole, romance should be an intimate thing.

    1. Thanks for commenting, David. Hey now, that Russian guy, that’s definitely consciously manipulative. What a loony!

      But with others it may be more unconscious. They genuinely think they are being adorable.

  3. I would die of a heart attack if someone ever did that to me in public. Some people must think it’s romantic, but I sure don’t. Most conventional romantic gestures gag me. And one that really irks me is sayings and promotions like “every kiss begins with Kay.” I’m sorry, but I want my ring to be either extremely plain (read: no diamonds at all) or very unique. I don’t like the idea that some guy can walk into a store and buy the exact same thing as the guy right before him because it’s what every girl wants. To me, most (if not all) diamond rings are really ugly. And I don’t view diamonds as a girl’s best friend.

    Besides, I’d rather be seen as equals, and if I get an engagement ring, so does he. Or, we skip that and wear the exact same wedding ring. I definitely don’t need fancy. But, that’s just me.

    And if anyone attempts to propose to me in public, yep, I’d be the bitch, even though I’m not really cruel. This person better know me really well before attempting to propose. Actually… I’d rather have an honest discussion where we both decide to marry together. Not one pops the question, whether or not I’m ready. Ah well, I guess I’m probably odd that way.

    1. Nothing wrong with being odd. And definitely nothing wrong with not falling for the pre-packaged idea of romance that advertisers and Hollywood and other vested interests want to use to sell stuff to us. Hah, that reminds me of this Tumblr post I did about Ripley and Hicks from Aliens – saying “Sometimes the most romantic promise a man can make is that he’ll definitely kill you if the aliens lay their eggs in you.” 😉

  4. I always find those public surprise proposals embarrassing to watch – when I haven’t figured it out in advanced and changed channel or just walked away. I don’t think most of them are being consciously manipulative just trying to be Romantic as hyped in the media. I certainly wouldn’t have been happy to receive one and it would have made me seriously disappointed that the one declaring undying love for me apparently didn’t know me well enough to realise how excruciatingly embarrassing it would be for me (just because they have risked public embarrassment and humiliation doesn’t mean I have to as well!)
    My husband didn’t go for a ‘proper’ proposal at all – he approached the subject in a round about way and asked what I’d think about getting engaged and married one day. He did go down on one knee and dramatically ask ‘the question’ a few years later when I mentioned that he’d never really proposed – a risky time to do it as we were just starting the detailed wedding plans and I was wishing that I’d insisted on just popping out one afternoon and doing the deed without family and caterers.
    I did cringe this morning when I was listening to the radio while driving. There was a dedication request for a wife’s birthday. There were going to be family and friends for a birthday lunch and the wife knew about them after the surprise party the husband had organised for her on a previous birthday had apparently gone down like a lead balloon with the lucky lady. But what she didn’t know about this year’s birthday celebration was that her dear husband had arranged for them to renew their wedding vows in church in front of all the visiting relatives before the big family lunch.
    I was left wondering how he would look in any photos with a nice black eye. I could see that he was trying to be Romantic but I couldn’t see a woman who hates surprises enjoying this one any more than a surprise party. I think they’d been married nearly thirty years as well so he really had no excuse.
    I have tried to bring my children up properly and have impressed upon them that the last thing I want EVER is a surprise party. I think the death threats got the message across. They are also to tell me if their father takes leave of his senses and tries to do anything like that either.
    I’m hoping my other campain will bear fruit – if they decide to get married it should occur in the Carribean, they should pay for it themselves and parents must be invited.

    1. Wow, that’s going overboard. I wouldn’t mind a surprise birthday party myself. But anything beyond that, no thanks. Especially something like that. I can’t believe he would do that if he knew she didn’t like surprises.

      I think that’s probably what it is for me, to have a guy propose. It’s a surprise. And I don’t much like surprises like that, that are so personal, and that have long-lasting effects. lol.

  5. Oh man, I clicked on from one of those rejections to a Belgian one and just sat there cackling. But then, I also sit there cackling at that MTV program called ‘Friendzoned’ or something, where this person makes up an elaborate story about going on a blind date and making their crush help them get ready and then springing ‘this date is for you I love youuuu’ on them in front of the cameras at the last moment. I keep waiting for someone to say: You know, I kind of liked you, but this dick move with the cameras and the peer pressure shows me you’re an ass, so no I won’t date you.

    I think, unless your partner has made it very clear they want a flashmob/public/skydiving/candygram proposal, you shouldn’t spring that shit on them.

    But then, my parents had the least romantic/public engagement ever: Gandalf called Pol up to say: Hey if we get married we’ll get extra benefits when I’m sent on training/missions, can you go down to city hall to see when we can get married? And Pol was all: Okay! I think Thursdays are cheapest, that cool?

    I think the media shows a lot of things that are considered romantic that I personally would file under ‘reasons to file a restraining order’.

    1. “I think the media shows a lot of things that are considered romantic that I personally would file under ‘reasons to file a restraining order’.”


      That MTV thing sounds frightful. I agree, the “well I’d have gone out with you if you’d asked like a normal person, but now I know you’re a douche, so no.” reaction would be mine too!

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