Can we all stop pretending surprise proposals are the best?

We talked to three women who survived surprise proposals that were definitely not worthy of a fairy tale.

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Can we all stop pretending surprise proposals are the best? play

Can we all stop pretending surprise proposals are the best?

(Women's Health)
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3 women explain why theirs were actually awkward AF.

If you've even jumped into a YouTube black hole of wedding proposal videos, you know that elaborate surprise proposals (like flash mobs) are a thing.

If you haven't spent hours sobbing tears of happiness on YouTube, maybe you remember He Zi, the Chinese silver medalist in diving whose boyfriend proposed to her while she was still on the podium at this year’s Olympics. She said yes and the whole world awwwed. Who doesn’t love a good love story, right?

While they're definitely romantic AF, surprise proposals aren't for everyone. When the question is popped in front of a crowd or in way that makes you feel uncomfortable, your gut might be telling you to say no. But the pressure to say yes—even if you’re not ready—is real.

We talked to three women who survived surprise proposals that were definitely not worthy of a fairy tale.

"I forgot about my gut instinct."

"I'm an introvert at heart, so when my boyfriend popped the question on the beach in Spain, surrounded by a large group of friends, and a video camera rolling, I was taken aback. I was 25 at the time and not yet courageous enough to turn someone down in front of peers, on camera! I just laughed and said, "You're messing with me," but inside I was thinking, 'It's way too soon.'

Although we had known one another since childhood, we had only been together for seven months. Inside I was saying no, while the word yes was crossing my lips, solidifying my fate. I let the excitement influence me, and, by the end of trip, I forgot all about that gut feeling.

It wasn't until six months later—dress bought, church and reception paid for, invitations made—that the gut feeling returned even stronger. I called off the wedding. Would it have hurt him more had I said no initially? Probably less. It may have been embarrassing with everyone watching, but it would be less heartbreaking in the long run." —Joanne, 41

"I felt obligated to say yes."

"In 1995, the guy I was dating for four years took me to a hotel. He had reserved the Mac Davis Suite (this was Lubbock, Texas). When he unlocked the door, it was clear that a meeting had taken place in suite that afternoon—empty serving trays, food-soaked plates in the trashcans, the stench of cigarettes.

He proposed at the bar in the suite by giving gave me a card with Browning’s 'How Do I Love Thee?' and a note inside, 'I hope you don’t mind I turned to someone else’s words on this occasion.' As a graduate student in English, I did. I said yes because we had been dating for four years.

Isn’t that what we were supposed to do? I hugged him and watched my reflection in the bathroom mirror. When I saw my face, I could tell that this wasn't what I wanted. Luckily, he called off our July wedding in June, and then asked if he could get his $100 deposit back from the church." —Jill, 46

"He didn't give me space to think about it."

"My ex proposed publicly, and I did not feel romanced. I felt trapped. We were in a packed bar with friends. He proposed via the public announcement system. Everyone was staring at me, grinning. I said yes to spare his feelings and everyone else's, and then I just felt sick.

I had to extricate myself from an engagement I never wanted. All because a romantic gesture was more important to my boyfriend than allowing me the time and space to actually consider his proposal and answer him honestly." —Marti, 51

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