Why Men are Afraid of Proposing

To most women, the thought of a proposal is sweet and magical, the stuff of storybooks. But believe me when I tell you this ladies, to your guy, the whole experience—from asking your parents, to buying the ring, to the actual moment—is one nerve-wracking, teeth-chattering, bone-chilling experience.

Why does proposing have this effect on guys? To begin with, they don’t want to mess it up. “I knew the importance of the moment,” says Mike, 26, who proposed on the beach at sunset, though he was so nervous he forgot all the romantic things he planned to say.

“It’s a story she’s going to tell other people, so it has got to be halfway decent,” says Sean, 31, who’s planning a proposal.

The Ring
As it is, looking for rings is intimidating for a man, but add the thought of what the ring represents and a man in a jewelry store starts looking like a stripper at the Queen of England’s weekend brunch: He just doesn’t belong.

When Charles first went looking for a ring, the jeweler said he understood how Charles was feeling. “You feel like you’re losing your manhood,” the jeweler told him. Sure enough, the guy hit a nerve, and Charles didn’t look again for five months.

Then there’s the cost of the actual ring and what has become an unreasonable social norm that a man is expected to spend two or three months of his salary on the thing. I am not alone when I ask, who came up with this crap?

But a man doesn’t want to be cheap, because: A. He wants to make his future wife happy; and, sometimes more importantly, B. Everyone is going to be looking at that ring and judging him on it.

The Permission
If a man wants to be traditional, asking permission of the parents is another stressful hoop to jump through. Considering that you’re asking to take away their little girl, this conversation can be almost as heavy as the proposal itself. (When I, your humble author, asked my fiancé’s dad for permission, we were both drunk—which helped take the edge off.)