Should a marriage proposal be a surprise?

Every time I turn around, there is another picture or a video on social media of a man on one knee, holding up a ring while the woman looks down at him, overwhelmed with emotion.

And while I think the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone is worth celebrating and even getting emotional over, for the life of me, I can’t understand why it should come as a surprise.

I would like to think that when you are in a mutually loving relationship, “forever” comes up in conversation quite often.

You know you want to marry this person. You agree that you are going to have the cutest and smartest and most loved children since the beginning of time. You talk about a big house.

You talk about how you are going to grow old together and love each other even after you have died and become ghosts.

But maybe that’s just me;an old-fashioned person who has failed to grasp the concept of “light and breezy” that pop culture has propagated.

The notion that being non-committal in a relationship is cute for a woman and manly for a man. That asking what a man’s intentions are, is moving too fast and likely to scare him away.

So you must be willing to invest your time, money and emotions and even play house without ‘stressing’ someone out with questions about the end goal of the relationship.

So that if he decides that he wants you in his life forever and purchases a piece of jewelry for you, you cry, jump, scream and faint.

Is this what a proposal ought to be? I think not. I think the decision to share your personal space and everything that comes with it for a bigger portion of your life should be made consciously.

I would personally want to have long conversations beforehand, to find out if we are on the same page, and if we hold the same values.

I would want to have honest conversations about our expectations and dreams, to know if they are aligned before we jump in.

I would want it to be a decision that neither of us has felt coerced, rushed or manipulated into. I would want to reduce the risk of being blind-sided.

The danger with surprise proposals, I have observed, is that because they are such public shows, there is no space for hesitation or discussion.

You are expected to excitedly say yes. The ones who are bold enough to say no become the subject of social media scrutiny.

But not all proposals come from a place of love. I know someone who proposed to his girlfriend a few hours to her flight to another country for work because he hoped that the prospect of marrying him would make her stay.

I know someone who did it as a way to compete with his ex-girlfriend when she got engaged.

We need to rethink the pomp and drama surrounding proposals if by getting engaged we are truly pursuing long-lasting relationships.