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Thoughts on promise rings?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 13, 2011 08:20 AM

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Q: Hi Meredith,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years. I'm in my late-20s and he's in his early 30s. We have had ups and downs like most couples, dealt with personal and family chaos, career changes, and all the other crazy stuff life throws at you. At the end of the day we love each other very much and have really stuck by each other through thick and thin. We do not live together although we have talked about moving in together recently and decided that we're not quite ready to take that step. We spend most nights together at his place.

Now for my question. I'm not 100% sure about marriage in general. Some days I think it would be fun and exciting to have a wedding and a marriage, while other days I think I'm cool with the life partner thing. I do want a commitment, though. I see moving in together as the "big step" that would solidify that commitment. I just resigned my lease so the earliest something could change is a year from now. I've decided I would like to show him that I am committed. As a 21st-century woman, I am thinking about getting some kind of matching jewelry (sort of like promise rings?)

My question is: Am I rushing things? I want it to be a joyous occasion and not uncomfortable, but would also love for it to be a surprise so I don't want to have a conversation with him about it first. I know he is committed to our relationship, but I don't want him to think I am pressuring him into proposing soon or that I'm not respecting the conversation we had about the next step in our relationship. I wouldn't expect us to wear them every day (I wear very little jewelry, changes from day to day). I would view it as a sweet symbol of our commitment to each other. It feels empowering when I think about buying this gift for us and could see him either loving it or feeling nervous about it. He'll never think that I am hinting at an engagement ring because I have told him on several occasions that I do not believe in engagement rings because I think they are archaic and misogynistic (Sorry, Beyonce. I still love "Single Ladies.") Any guidance? Is this old fashioned or corny? Will he view this as too much pressure?

– Longing for Commitment, Massachusetts


A: I'm confused, LFC. So ... he won't think that the matching jewelry is a hint that you want to get engaged, but to you it will mean that you're on your way to making some sort of big commitment. I don't think that the idea is corny, but I do think that it's misleading.

You want to start living with him after your lease is up, so why don't you focus on that? If you're going to buy something that celebrates where the two of you are right now, get something great for his apartment that you can share. Or maybe spend the money on a weekend trip.

Just know that no matter what you buy, wear, or say, you can't speed up this relationship. You have to accept where you are now and fight the urge to pretend that you can control where you'll be next year. You're in a great partnership that's still evolving. Putting a promise ring on it doesn't change anything. I'm sure that Beyonce would agree with me.

To summarize: No promise rings, please. But ask him if there's something you can contribute to his apartment to make life easier for both of you since you spend so much time there. That says commitment to me -- and without any mixed signals or manipulation. And when you're ready, talk about cohabitation next year. It'll take some real planning, so you should be discussing the change within the next few months.

Readers? When she says she wants a promise ring, what does she actually want? Should she talk to him about when they can move in together? Thoughts on meaningful jewelry, in general? Is the promise jewelry a idea nice? Should I be more supportive? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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