how to get over a bad proposal

OMG, you’re engaged! Wait, why aren’t you grinning ear to ear? If your proposal wasn’t what you expected, it can be difficult to keep feelings of disappointment from surfacing, even though you’re obviously really excited to be engaged! And while I can’t help you turn back time and get that picture-perfect proposal, I can give you some tips to help you figure out how to get over a bad proposal, by taking a step back, regroup and rise above your post-proposal disappointment.

Wondering how to get over a bad proposal? Here’s what to do if your proposal wasn’t quite the ripped-from-a-rom-com moment you always hoped it’d be.

Identify What you Didn’t Like About Your Proposal, and Why.

Was your proposal not what you expected for a superficial reason, like you’d have preferred it photographed and your partner forgot, or the ring wasn’t what you were hoping for? Or is your disappointment coming from somewhere deeper? Like, maybe you made your partner promise to get your family’s blessing beforehand, and only after they popped the question did you learn that they didn’t. A superficial disappointment is a lot easier to move past than a deeper one, because a deeper one speaks more to your relationship. If you feel like it’s a more serious issue that’s got you upset, you need to have a sit-down with your future spouse and talk it out. You need to know you can trust your future spouse when it matters most: During important life events like this one.

Ask Yourself: Was I Even Wishing for Something Realistic?

Movies, TV and Instagram do a great job of shaping our proposal expectations into something altogether fictional and downright unrealistic. Even if you feel like your dream proposal isn’t that crazy (all you want is to be dressed to the nines yet totally surprised and for it to take place in an incredibly photogenic setting and for it to be captured by one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the nation!), chances are, if you’ve been planning it out in your head for years, your vision might never come to fruition exactly as you hoped. But guess what? That’s OK, because in real life, most proposals are small, quiet, intimate moments that don’t happen in Paris at night on a floor of fresh rose petals with a 10-carat diamond ring, and yet, most proposals are still some of the best moments of people’s lives. Let go of your unrealistic dream proposal and embrace the very real one that just happened to you, because that’s the one that matters most.

Stop Obsessing.

It may be that you’re not trying to figure out how to get over a bad proposal, but one that simply didn’t go as you wanted it—say, you were hoping to get proposed to in Hawaii but your partner popped the question in Puerto Rico instead—step one to getting over it is to stop obsessing over what could have been every waking moment. The more you dwell on what you didn’t get, the more you’ll overlook what you did get: Engaged, namely! But also, probably, an amazing experience that, while not what you might have previously envisioned, was still memorable and sweet in its own unique way. Every time you catch yourself obsessing over what could have been, glance down at your new ring or a sweet pic of you and your new spouse-to-be, and remember the excitement you felt when they started their proposal—those emotions are real, even if your dream proposal never quite came true.

marriage proposal

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

I mentioned above that if what disappointed you was something superficial like the ring or the setting, you’re in luck, because those are all small potatoes that can be dealt with pretty easily. If your ring wasn’t what you were hoping for, you can have a gentle and kind conversation with your partner and perhaps exchange it for something else—or maybe you can change it up in a few years on a big anniversary (like your fifth!). If your partner forgot to get photographs, you can ask your engagement photog to recreate the scene during your shoot. If you wish your family had been present, you can host an engagement party where they’re all there and celebrate with them. See? All of these are fixable, so you shouldn’t let them make or break your proposal. Proposals are about the moment and the feeling and what’s next—not so much the ring or the props!

Remember, the Proposal Doesn’t Make the Wedding…

Yes, getting proposed to is a huge milestone in your life, and of course you’d like it to be a perfect story you can tell to all of your friends and family until the end of your days. But if you’re wondering how to get over a bad proposal, it doesn’t automatically mean your wedding will also be less-than-stellar. And the wedding, of course, is the main event! That’s the big day that’s attended by dozens, photographed nonstop, and talked about for generations. And where a proposal is usually planned by only one-half of your partnership, the wedding is where you both get to have equal say, so you can ensure it doesn’t only meet but exceeds your expectations. When all is said and done and your perfect wedding comes to a close, you might even look back on your proposal in a whole new light.

…and the Wedding Doesn’t Make the Marriage.

Even more important than the proposal and the wedding? The marriage that comes next! Don’t lose sight of that when you’re getting caught up in the details of your proposal (and wedding) and comparing them to those of your friends or what you see on social media. Nobody has your great relationship, and nobody will ever have your amazing marriage in the making. If your proposal wasn’t everything you hoped for and you’re feeling down, lift your morale by reminding yourself that it was simply a gateway to a lifetime of happiness with the partner you were lucky enough to find in this crazy world. Not even a trip to Paris can top that.