What to do if she turns down your marriage proposal

There is a lot you can do to reduce the chances of rejection, and you should already have an idea of what she is thinking before you pop the question.

It goes without saying that you wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of saving for a ring and planning the perfect proposal if you thought she was just going to turn around and say "No".

Yet, a marriage proposal is just that, a binary question that can go either way. It doesn't matter how many gospel choirs you've hired or how perfect that mountain vista is, you can never guarantee that things will work out as you have planned.

Unfortunately (or fortunately in some cases), data suggests that a growing number of women are turning down marriage proposals from men who thought they had it in the bag. This probably has more to do with the ever increasing level of equality between men and women – and the fact that sourcing a husband is no longer the responsibility of one's parents – than a decline in the quality of us men-folk.

Of course there is a lot you can do to reduce the chances of rejection and you should already have an idea of what she is thinking before you pop the question. Have you discussed your future together already? Does she always stop and point out engagement rings to you? Has she just come straight out and demanded that you ask her to marry you?

Even so, a woman can be fickle at times and she is free to make up her own mind and turn you down. This doesn't always mean that the relationship is destined to terminate however, but it does indicate that there are two distinct and divergent aspirations for your relationship that will need addressing in a mature fashion.

How she responds to the proposal should be a good indicator of whether or not the relationship is salvageable. Hopefully she has reacted with enough sensitivity to give an explanation for her rejection – which broadly speaking should fall into one of the following three camps:

Don't bottle it up

Whatever the reason for her rejection of your offer, you shouldn't stay quiet about it and let it get to you. After you have sorted out what path you and your partner are willing to travel – be it together or separately – you should speak to your friends about what has happened. They may have been in similar situations themselves and be full of advice.

Getting turned down is not a cause for embarrassment and you must not feel ashamed or foolish for trying. Yes, it will undoubtedly hurt for some time – a long time perhaps – but you will move on. If you do stay together, who knows maybe she was right in her reasoning and your relationship will go on to be stronger than ever before. If you do break-up know that it was definitely for the best and you should be glad it happened sooner rather than later.

At least you won't have to save for a ring again!

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