Valentine’s Day 2008 — I remember it like it was last week. My boyfriend and I were living together with our 4-month-old son, and before I headed out for work, we discussed our dinner plans for that evening. Since we waited too long to book a reservation, he’d make dinner for us at home. Sweet. I was pretty psyched about it and even wore a red blouse, you know, to be festive and all. But, I wasn’t expecting anything huge, just a box of chocolate or a bottle of wine or something simple like that.
Boy was I in for a surprise.
When I got home that evening, I walked into an apartment filled with balloons. Okay… nice. I took my coat off and proceeded into the bedroom. When I walked in, there were rose pedals on the floor. Okay, a little much, but still… nice. When I walked up to our bed, there was a teddy bear, the box of chocolates I was expecting, and a ring-sized jewelry box. Okay, umm… more than a little much, but I didn’t want to freak out. Just yet.
And then it happened. He proposed. Marriage. Like until-death-do-us-part marriage.
Here’s the thing: every idealistic/romantic girl dreams of being proposed to like this. And on such a romantic day. And in such a romantic way. But here’s the other thing: every girl dreams of that proposal coming from the “right” guy. And I wasn’t exactly sold on my boyfriend being Mr. Right. Needless to say, this proposal was pretty awkward.
I didn’t want to disappoint him because I cared about him. And I didn’t want to see the hopeful and excited look in his eyes dwindle. So I did exactly what my 23-year-old self knew how to do: I accepted. I said, “Yes,” and we were engaged, alright. But I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it.
In fact, I didn’t even wear the engagement ring for the week following the big proposal, which, by the way, was all wrong! It was a marquise-shaped diamond. Not good. Everyone knows I’m a princess-cut kind of gal!
When my “fiancé” confronted me about my bare ring finger a few days later, I had no choice but to break it to him. It was the right thing to do. Plus, I didn’t want any bad relationship karma to come my way. As Lauryn Hill taught us, “Karma, karma, karma comes back to you hard.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to be with you,” I started, “It’s just that… well, I don’t think we’re ready to be married…” I continued and told him that marriage is a huge deal and a responsibility that we weren’t in the position to take on. I mean, it just didn’t feel right. Something was… off. We weren’t exactly compatible and our relationship eventually ended.
Although breakups suck big time (this one certainly did), staying in a relationship that’s not working sucks even more. Believe me. I once read an article that proclaimed something along the lines of “when it comes to entering a serious relationship, men choose, while women settle.” Well… not this woman.
So ladies, the moral of this “Well That Was Fun” love story is this: don’t settle. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. Instead, enjoy your life and believe that you’re fabulous and will meet someone who’s right for you. Because you are. And you will.
And fellas, puh-lease, for the love of love, do NOT try to be all romantic and whatnot by proposing marriage on Valentine’s Day unless you’ve discussed the topic at length with your significant other. A surprise proposal is not always as romantic as you think. Sometimes it’s just awkward.
Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a 20something single mother, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University turned Mental Health Therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue — her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious. Find her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.