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How to Deal With a Proposal You Thought Would Happen But Didn't

If you've been with your partner for a while and are still waiting for a ring, read these tips to help deal with all the emotions.

woman's hands

woman's hands

There are few things more exciting than the waiting for a proposal from someone you love and want to spend the rest of your life with, but there are also few things more nerve wracking. Will will he or she really propose? How will he or she propose? And, most important, when are they planning on proposing? The anxiety that comes along with the surprise element of not knowing can cause impatience and even uneasiness. “You feel as if you’re caught in a limbo, unsure of when, or even if, you will ever experience that long-awaited moment,” says Caela Cohen, M.S.Ed, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. “When you are expecting a proposal, but find out that it’s not happening now or in the foreseeable future, there are many emotions that can arise, such as disappointment, embarrassment, confusion, jealousy and sadness, to name a few.”

Just because your partner didn’t propose when you thought he or she would doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen in the future, but that might be how it feels for you right now in the heat of the moment. “Maybe your partner took you on a nice vacation, to your favorite restaurant, the location of your first date; the setting and circumstances seemed just perfect, but then no ring,” says Cohen. “The excitement and build-up of waiting for a proposal that has now occurred over hours, days, even months, has no pay off when proposal does not happen, and that hurts.”

However you’re feeling right now—embarrassed, angry, undesired, unappreciated—know first that it’s OK to feel these things, especially if you’ve been with your partner (and waiting for a proposal!) for a long time. “Shame, particularly having the thought that something is ‘wrong’ with you, that you are unlovable or un-marry-able, is also a common feeling, as well as embarrassment, especially if your close friends and family members were also expecting an engagement, anger and feelings of grief and sadness are also common, as well as the feeling of being out of control, since something you were expecting to happen didn't happen,” points out Julie Williamson, Licensed Professional Counselor in St. Louis, Missouri.

So what do you do about waiting for a proposal? How do you come back down from this cloud of disappointment? It might take a little time, but you will bounce back and once again feel excited about prospect of getting engaged. Here are some expert ways to cope in the meantime.

Take a deep breath and calm down.

Try your hardest not to do anything rash while waiting for a proposal, like tell your partner off for not meeting your expectations (trust us, this is only likely to delay the proposal when he or she is finally ready). “You are feeling triggered, so give it a day or two to sink in and then process things,” says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist, director of My Dating & Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. “In the meantime, meditate, take a long walk, journal or get a massage to calm down.”

Face your emotions.

Once you’ve cooled off a bit, take a look in the mirror and acknowledge how you’re feeling. “Resisting normal reactions to such an important life event only leads to get stuck in sadness and depression,” warns Mary Ann Mercer, Psy.D., psychologist, author and co-founder of Positive Life Answers. “It also can make you regret impulsive decisions about your relation because you are looking at it via eyes of sadness and hurt.”

 Ask yourself why you really want to be engaged.

Is it the dream of a fairytale proposal you are looking forward to, or the anticipation of actually marrying your significant other? Evaluating your intentions for getting engaged is important, according to Cohen, as it brings forward whether or not you’re after the realness of it all or the fluff.