Having someone propose is an amazing experience because it means a person gets to spend the rest of their life with someone they love. But, sometimes, people aren't ready for that type of commitment or it's happening too early, or sometimes they don't feel the same way about the person proposing. Here are some stories of people who turned down proposals and why they did it. Content has been edited for clarity.
The Painter’s Proposal
“I met him at an art opening, he flew back to his home state a couple days later. We spent a month talking on the phone every day, and he asked me to come with him to Italy while he produced some paintings for a patron’s new villa. I started getting everything together to renew my passport and prepare for the trip.
He told me he was going to propose to me in Italy. I told him this was too much for me and I wasn’t feeling like we were on the same level in the relationship. He lost his marbles, called me 50 times through the night, but after the first time I didn’t answer anymore. A few years later, I found out he had gone to prison- statutory assault on one of his art students.
Oh for sure, I’m no dummy. When someone goes from zero to marriage proposal in a month when you’ve only physically been in the same space together once… yeah, that’s gonna be a no from me dawg.”
“The Idiot Friend Was Right”
“We were on the verge of a breakup when he asked. We’d been having problems for a few years. His idiot friend told him it was a good idea to propose and that it would make everything magically better. I told him no, we broke up and I moved away for a while.
As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It was true in our case. We were able to work things out. I moved back and 2 years later, we got married. We’ve been together for 24 years, have 2 daughters and 1 grandchild!
You could say that the idiot friend was right, but had I said yes, we would have ended up with a nasty divorce, hated each other and had no chance of getting back together. I’m thankful for the way everything went down, but I know that if I hadn’t said no to him then we wouldn’t be where we’re at now.”
Between A Rock (Star) And A Hard Place
“I was casually dating a guy in a rock band. He just knew he was going to ‘make it big’ and be a rock star, and I always thought he was a little bit crazy, but heck, it was all fun and games because I was young and that’s what I was looking for. I loved to follow his band and dance the night away on weekends, partying with my friends in whatever nightclub he was playing, a great way to forget about school and studying for a few hours.
When he popped the question, I was so surprised I burst out laughing! I was 22 years old, just graduated from college and was about to start my career. I was starting an internship and was leaving the country for a year, and he asked me on bended knee while I was literally packing my suitcases. He figured I was giving him an ultimatum and was threatening to leave him unless he finally broke down and offered to marry him. It was especially odd because we had never spoken about being together in the future, and I had never even introduced him to my family. His proposal was so unexpected and inappropriate, I simply asked him to leave my apartment and promised I’d send him a postcard from Europe. I couldn’t get that door closed behind him fast enough!”
“Hello, Red Flag”
“Everything seemed perfect, everyone thought we were perfect, and we agreed early on that we could see each other getting married at some point since all of earth was pointing towards it. I said multiple times that I didn’t want to think about being engaged until at least after I graduated, which was in another three years. For the record, I was only 25 years old.
He proposed nine months into our relationship, on top of a surprise engagement party that night where I met his entire extended family all at once. At one point in the night he had asked if I thought about taking his name or not, and I said that sounded nice but I’d have to think about it. Thirty seconds later he clinks his glass for a toast and announces that I was taking the family last name, and I almost spit out my drink. The night I got engaged was the first time I ever got sleep paralysis, so, hello, red flag.
It really irked me that an extremely important thing I made clear seemingly wasn’t valued, so I eventually broke it off. I’d also had a very small voice in the back of my head saying he was just meant to be my best friend and nothing more.
He’s not malicious, obsessive or abusive at all- he just got excited and didn’t realize the consequence of his actions. It’s all good now and I’m happily single, but dang dude.”
“I was 29 and had been with my boyfriend four years when he ‘proposed.’ I put quotes around it because he didn’t actually say anything – he just got down on a knee and showed me a ring. Every time we had talked about marriage, I told him I wasn’t ready. Our relationship was solid, but I felt sort of listless in it and like we never really fully connected, or had real talks of any depth. I always felt like it was me talking and him listening but not giving much back. We never ever fought. The proposal felt like a microcosm of that dynamic: instead of having a real talk about what he wanted, which would have been hard, he just bought a ring (a diamond, by the way, which I told him I didn’t want but he didn’t believe me) to try to sidestep dealing with any difficult feelings or conflicts.
We stayed together after that, though – I felt so confused, he seemed so devoted, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. A year and a half later, I found out he had been pursuing other women through much of our relationship, including my best friend, who he was infatuated with (she did not realize), and was having an emotional affair with a woman at his work. He acted like a complete crazy person after this all came to light, and all the resentments he had secretly buried came up (culminating in a letter to my parents where he essentially blamed me for his cheating, based on offenses like my doing my laundry separate from his and not accepting his money/liking to keep our finances separate). I felt validated about the vague unease I had had for so many years and was glad I listened to that intuition that there was something not right, though I wish I had sooner.
It was an obviously crazy, grasping-at-straws way of rationalizing his spectacular dishonesty and betrayal, made even more nuts by the fact that he wrote this to my parents, as if they were going to be sympathetic to his case. It was like, if you had a problem with keeping our laundry separate (which I did because I only needed to wash clothes once every 2.5 weeks or so, while he needed it every week), maybe you should have mentioned it at some point over the course of 5 years, instead of getting secretly angry and imagining that it gave you permission to cheat? So shameless.
About a month later, I met my now-husband, and we married a year and a half later – I never hesitated with his proposal, even though it was only a few months in. It’s been three years now and I am so happy with him – we’re expecting our first child in November!”
“I was going through postpartum depression and I had no support system to speak of. I was a teenager and my mom just kept repeatedly telling me to give my son up for adoption because no one would ever want me and you’re nothing without a man. That being said, there was one meathead jock who had been asking me out for years that I always turned down because we had nothing in common. We had never even had a conversation before yet he would religiously ask me out for almost every dance and Valentine’s. Well that Valentine’s when he asked me out again, I just gave up and said yes. We dated for a year, the whole time him telling me he had always admired me from afar, loved my creativity and individuality; but also telling me to stop dying my hair and grow it out, to get manicures and wear make-up, to lose weight and wear designer clothing.
After a year, he proposed. We were 19 and he said he was ready to start a family with me. That we would perfect and our kids would be perfect. It was like I snapped out of a fog. I realized that if I married him, I would be unhappy for the rest of my life. So we broke up. A year later, I met the man that I did eventually marry and I can confidently say that I am truly happy.”
Love At First Sight?
“I was proposed to by a women I really only knew in passing. We met because she was friends with my buddy’s wife. She and the friend’s wife weren’t even close so I never saw her that much despite me being at their house basically everyday and even living with them for a short time.
A couple years goes by after she and I were first introduced, my friend and his wife are having a big 4th of July bash at their house and I was invited. My would be betrothed was also there.
A few hours go by, everyone’s having a good time and then out of no where she proposes to me. I’m standing next to a corn hole board with a cold Bud in one hand and a corn hole beanbag in the other. She walks up, makes some small talk and then drops to one knee and pulls a ring out.
Her: ‘Dave, will you marry me?’
Me: ‘What?’ as I shoot her what has been described as the most confused face ever.
Her: ‘Will you be my husband?’
Me: ‘…I barely know you.’
Her: ‘My parents barely knew each other but they’re still married.’
Me: ‘Good for them.’
Her: ‘Will you marry me?’
Me: ‘No, (her name). You don’t know the first thing about me, why would I marry you?’
Her: ‘Because you love me.’
Me: ‘But I don’t, because I don’t know you.’
By this point, our corn hole game had stopped, the burgers my friend was grilling were burning and literally everyone in the backyard was looking at us. Friend’s wife came over, asked what was happening and I told her.
She looked as confused as I felt and she asked her ‘friend’ to leave. ‘Friend’ threw a fit, said she and I were meant to be together because her dying grandma told her as much (who I’ve never met and later learned both of her grandmas are still alive). Friend’s wife now insisted, saying she would call the cops if she needed to. ‘Friend’ threw the ring on the ground and stormed out.
My corn hole partner, a close friend of our hosts and I, picked up the ring and yelled ‘Who wants to get hitched?’ which got a much needed laugh from everyone who just watched that. I laughed but mostly stood there questioning my life and if what happened was really a prank. It wasn’t.”
Super Wasted In His Parents’ Basement
“Because it was barely a proposal, because I thought we were too young, very inebriated and although I could never have vocalized it then, in my heart and my body I knew I was in a deeply unhealthy relationship.
This was probably around a decade ago now. I have wasted many hours wondering why the heck he even asked me. By that time, I think he knew he loved The Other Woman. I’m 99% sure he’s married to her now. I think the ring was maybe purchased for her, but he wasn’t telling his friends about her yet. (Although, they had to know, right? That’s another thing I’ll never understand.) He proposed on New Year’s Eve, when we were super wasted, at a party in his parents’ basement.
We were such an awful couple by then that other dudes at this party were hitting on me because they had no idea I was his girlfriend. In his own house. That’s how little he paid attention to me. She wasn’t there but I have to assume he was on the phone with her the whole night. His best friend accidentally let it slip that there was a ring. I think that’s why he asked…to cover his tracks. We sat outside and he kinda just shoved a closed ring box at me. I never even opened it. I’m 70% sure that one of his buddies was literally peeing in the snow a foot away from us. We never discussed it again (any of it) and I didn’t tell any of my friends because it hardly seemed like news.
Every so often, I catch myself saying things like ‘nobody is going to propose to me’ and then I laugh uncontrollably because I remember that technically it isn’t true. The bar is pretty low for my current significant other to top.”
“She Said I Could Have The Cash If I Married Her”
“I was proposed to by my best friend, who went to college in my hometown. I met her the day after she got to campus in 1984.
I did not go to the university but we hit it off immediately, just never romantically. After a few failed dates it was obvious to both that we should remain friends. But we grew very close, nevertheless.
Well, she was dating a friend of her family’s back home during her senior year who was emotionally abusive to her. She would often show up at my house in tears, and the dirtbag was 300 miles away.
After graduation, she hung around for a few days before going back home.
The night before she left, she once again showed up in tears. She was actually terrified of going back home and close to a nervous breakdown over this guy and her parents were pushing her to marry the idiot.
I remember it very well, we were sitting upstairs on the couch listening to music and she walked over to the turntable and lifted the needle and the room went completely still.
She walked over bawling her eyes out sat down put her head on my shoulder, asking me to marry her. She did not have a ring but she had gone to the bank and withdrew her graduation money from her wealthy family.
She said I could have the cash if I married her and shoved a roll of $100 bills into my hand. 100 of them.
I was completely shocked to say the least. I did not accept her proposal, obviously and talked a long time about her situation that night. I eventually told her she could come back and stay with me.
So she went home got her stuff and couple days later moved in. She eventually met a decent guy and married. Couple kids later and a divorce, she’s still my best friend.”
“When I was 19, I started dating this guy that I met online. I had recently been dumped by some guy who I was head over heels for who turned out to be a total d-bag. I was heart broken and moped around for several months until I met the guy this post is about. He was cute and nice but the main reason I liked him was because he seemed ‘safe,’ the total opposite of what the d-bag had going on about himself. Problem was, I never really truly had feelings for this guy. He was just kind of there and worked well as a place holder. I know that’s a bad thing to do but I was young and dumb.
Anyway, we dated for a few months and I realized it was probably better to just be single than be with a dude that I don’t have feelings for. However, he got kicked out his place, couldn’t afford his own, so he came live with me. It was pretty much either me was me or the streets. So this 3 month little fling turned into a 2 year serious relationship. He would get a job, get back on his feet, lose said job, be jobless for awhile, rinse repeat.
He finally got a good job. At this point I was very unfulfilled and done with him. I was trying to think of a way to sit him down and ask him to look for a place and end things. I didn’t even care about the money he owed me. I just wanted to be free.
He came home with his first pay check and was like, ‘Man, I make pretty decent money. We could afford a nice wedding. Do you think we should get married?’
Aaaaaaand that’s how I ended up saying no and dumping him. Again, I know it sounds bad to string him along, but it was so comfortable. The proposal really woke me up, though, and made me realize that I did not want to marry that man.”
“I Just Want To Go To Bed”
“I was 17 in high school, he was 16 in high school. He came to my house one day and I was taking a nap. He just let himself into my house, woke me up (I’m the only person here) and drops to one knee and pulls out a cheap ring, probably from some kind of coin machine at a mall. I was so confused and didn’t really know what to say. The only words I could get out were, ‘I just want to go to bed,’ and he started crying, saying that he didn’t want to lose me.
I told him to go home. We’d been dating for like a year and continued dating like it didn’t happen. Sometimes I wonder if that was even real, it seems so bizarre. Nothing was the same afterwards and I knew it wasn’t going to work out. Later on, I found out he cheated on me the entire relationship and a few years after we broke up, he got busted for statutory assault of a minor. So, good riddance! I didn’t need him.”
“We Should Give It A Shot”
“I was was proposed to by a gorgeous 19 year old girl I worked with. We had been a little flirtatious with each other but were just close work friends. I was just under 25.
She got knocked up by a guy she wasn’t dating seriously. She was opposed to abortion so was planning to keep the baby but wanted to end it with that guy.
She took me aside and slowly and seriously proposed marriage with me. Her rationale being that we loved each other even though we were just friends and that I would be a wonderful father, so we should give it a shot.
She was sincere, but seeing as her proposal was insane (though oddly tempting), I said no
She married the father of her child shortly after. They’re still married, going on 20 years now. Only one child.
So I suppose I said no because I was a young man and that wasn’t my child. I do wonder what would have happened if I’d said yes… but that would have been insane… right?
I could probably say that there are a couple women in my past that I wonder if I should have married. This girl is not one of them. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life now. I love my family and have no regrets. So, I don’t secretly wish I had married this girl.
But it raises interesting questions about the nature of marriage and its purpose. She was not from an impoverished family at all. I think her reasons were more along the lines of saving face maybe? It would have been improper in her ‘clan’ to abort. It also would have been seen as perhaps improper or less than proper to carry the baby to term and put it up for adoption
So I think she decided the best course of action was to marry and keep the baby, and I was a more acceptable choice than the biological dad apparently. I like to think that she is doing okay now and that the kid has lived a normal life, but I haven’t seen her or heard from her in years.”
I Still Love Him
“So, we’ll call this guy Lake. Lake and I met while working together at a trashy hotel. Lake was one of the first people I had intimate experiences with. I really had a thing for Lake…but I was a more casual situation to him. Lake had a lot of great, likable personality traits. One day Lake informed me he was moving from Wisconsin to Utah very quickly. I got one last hang-out with him and POOF he was gone. Lake changed his phone number and didn’t exist on social media.
Until last year. He reactivated his Facebook and sent me a message saying he couldn’t stop thinking about me. That he felt we were spiritually connected in a way he couldn’t explain. He wanted to know how I was, etc. We exchanged numbers and talked. He now has a child, seems to be doing okay, and is maybe Mormon now? Hard to tell…anyways, one day via text message, he said, ‘Will you marry me? Just move out here and marry me. I have always loved you. I was stupid before for never telling you. I want to take care of you and have a mother for my child.’
But I told him no. I did tell him that if I wasn’t dating my current partner, I’d probably at least move out there and try having a relationship with him…but I am very happy with my partner.
I loved Lake. And my current partner knew/knows Lake, too. He knows Lake is a good guy and said he would understand if I left him for Lake. Lake is just a really unique, special kind of soul. But I really love my current partner a lot. But I do still love Lake, just not romantically anymore, its been like 6 years since I’ve seen him in person even. But had Lake asked me to take this life plunge all those years ago, I likely would have said yes.”
She Asked Me To Move To Thailand
“I had been in college with a group of people for four years, and about two weeks before final exams, one of the foreign students, who I had never exchanged a single word with in the whole time, asked me out on a date.
We got food, then we went back to her place and she showed me her Mandolin (not a euphemism). After a terrible rendition of ‘Pinball Wizard,’ she said, ‘Would you like to marry me? There will be no romance between us!’
I was taken aback.
I asked her, not unreasonably, if the she just wanted a Green Card. She looked at me with a puzzled expression and told me that she was already a citizen… and besides, we would have to go live in Thailand.
I then asked her if she was a lesbian, and she said no, she had slept with 1/2 the guys at the University (ummm so why was it off the table for me then?)… so I asked her if she was trying to get out of an arranged marriage, and again she said no.
I said I would think about it, and just never spoke to her again. To this day, I have no idea what her motivation was.”