Caught off-guard by casual couch proposal

Published 8:01 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Dear Aunty Pam,


Over Thanksgiving I got engaged, or at least I think I did. I guess you could say I’m feeling pretty deflated about it.

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I met ‘Phil’ online over a year ago. We’re both in our late forties and we’re both divorced. He’s a real ‘meat and potatoes’ type of guy, can be pretty opinionated, but is also funny and protective of me. I’m pretty easy going and I guess you could call me feminine because I like romantic books and movies and care about the way I look, etc. 

Anywho, over Thanksgiving, we were sitting on the couch watching something on Netflix and Phil wasn’t really into it. When the credits started rolling, he put his arm around my shoulders, gave me a little squeeze and said, ‘What do you think about us getting married?’ I was so startled I said something like, ‘Wow, gosh, OK.’ And he said ‘Great. We can go pick out a ring next week and you can tell all our friends we’re engaged.’

That was IT. No ‘I love you, will you marry me’ or anything like that and after the initial shock, everything felt so flat. I’m disappointed that he didn’t put any more effort into it. He knows that I love surprises and romance. Now I just feel like the whole thing is a total non-event. I don’t even want to tell my friends because I know they’ll ask how he proposed and I’m embarrassed to tell them.

Do you think I’m being unreasonable? Do I need to get over myself?

Thanks, Aunty Pam!

Dana W

Dear Dana,

As I read Phil’s proposal I put down my Prosecco (which takes an extraordinary commitment to physical effort), rubbed my face with my hands and said, ‘Oy vey.’

Because Aunty Pam’s concern is that you’re approaching a lifelong commitment with someone with whom you might share little in common.

I’m not saying for a minute that Phil is a bad guy or a lummox. He wants to marry you—how lovely. However, ask yourself this: If Phil isn’t capable or willing to be demonstrably romantic or sensitive, is that a deal breaker? Can you be content in the years to come watching different movies and TV shows in different rooms in your home? Perhaps not receiving flowers on Valentine’s Day? Staring at your phones because you have nothing in common to talk about?

While I won’t call it a red flag, but maybe a pink one, when I read his response to his ‘proposal’ as ‘Great, we can go pick out a ring next week and you can tell all our friends, we’re engaged,’ I must say that felt distasteful. There seemed to be no consideration about what you might like to do about a ring, or when. On top of that, oh, boy, you get to call all ‘our friends’ to announce the engagement. It all sounds a bit like an order, and considering that you described Phil as opinionated, well, dear, I fear you’re in the passenger seat of a muscle car going somewhere you might not like, quickly.

The fact that you’ve written to me at all makes it appear you’re having second thoughts and, NO, I don’t think you’re being unreasonable. The only thing you might be guilty of is failing to pump the brakes and speak up for yourself. If you don’t share your thoughts with Phil about what’s important to you and what you really need in your life, you’ll have only yourself to blame when he gives you a crock pot for your first anniversary—should he remember it.

Cheers, dear!

Aunty Pam