The Unspoken Reality About Getting Engaged


Let me start with sharing our story. Billy and I crossed paths on a couple of separate occasions around Charleston.  He even approached me once at the Hometeam BBQ bar to ask for my number, but aborted the mission when he second guessed my availability. Billy is kind and consciousness and would never go out of his way to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

As any good modern love story would have it, we matched on bumble two weeks later (a dating app where the girl has to message the boy first). The conversations were witty and he looked tall, so we agreed to meet for drinks at Stars that weekend.  A few drinks at Stars lead the reveal of our mutually ambiguous dance moves at The Silver Dollar and less than a month later we both deleted our bumble accounts and were booking tickets for a couples’ ski trip to Vermont.

We dated for a year and three months before Billy tricked me into thinking we were going to Sullivan’s Island for a beach bonfire and popped the question. Over the moon would be an understatement. I can honestly say it’s been one of the best days of my life. That being said, the weeks and months leading up weren’t quite as joyful. Apparently, engagement anxiety is an actual thing, regardless of not a lot of people talking about it.

For me, engagement anxiety wasn’t trigged with the looming expiration of my single days or the nervousness if Billy might be the right one. My single days were more than enough for what it takes to build one’s independence and humility and Billy is everything I could ever hope for and more.

My anxiety stemmed from the lack of control and power of the situation. It’s foolish to pretend like the proposal was a complete surprise. Once we knew we wanted to be together we obviously talked about engagement and marriage, but somewhere along the way the discussions started to feel presumptuous for me and a little unromantic for him.  It wasn’t that we weren’t on the same page, I think Billy (more so) just wasn’t in any rush to start the wedding planning chapter before the actual engagement.

But that didn’t mean the dialog in my head took any reserve. As a small business and home owner, planning for future outcomes is literally my job. It only took forgetting to refill the hot water heater once (okay maybe twice) to learn the importance of being two steps ahead.  It felt like in such a short period of time, I went from being in complete control of everything in my life, to little or no control of the near future. My inner monologue became a daily battle between patient and trusting girlfriend to full on, no holds barred detective.

(3 months prior) No rush in getting engaged, it will happen when it happens. He wants to go on a walk on the beach, is it happening now? Oh, maybe he doesn’t have the ring yet. What if the ring is ugly? Will he get offended if I hate the ring? Do I die pretending like I love it or ask him if it’s okay to exchange it? The ring will be perfect. It’s not like you didn’t show him a number of different options. Was giving him options too audacious? You need to chill out.  

 (2 months prior) Hmm.. his location says he’s at my parent’s house. Oh, that’s right he’s playing tennis with my dad today. Should I go visit friends in NYC next weekend? I could definitely use a good girls weekend. Wait, what if Billy is planning something for next weekend? Am I supposed to just not make plans for the rest of my life..?

 (1 month prior) Should I tell him I looked at three possible wedding venues today? Probably should keep that to myself. I’m telling him. We can’t start off our relationship on lies. Yea.. definitely shouldn’t have told him. Did we just get in our first wedding fight before we’re even engaged? Should I wear water proof mascara to dinner tonight? What a waste of a good hair day. I need a toaster. Add toaster to registry.

 (Week of proposal) Nice haircut cut, Billy. Should I get my hair cut? Why is my mom insisting on getting our nails done? Relax, that would be too obvious. OMG it’s happening!!!!

As much as I tried to play it cool during these last few months of our courtship, Billy has informed me that my ability to mask my angst was mediocre at best. Now that we are finally able to communicate fully again, it’s been interesting to learn that he too was going through similar emotions of engagement anxiety while trying to keep everything a secret from a girl who temporarily could have passed for an FBI agent. At least now we can both finally relax and bask in the glow of our newly engaged bliss…

Wait a minute…how come nobody ever told me how expensive flowers are?



About Aly Murphy

Aly Murphy is an international etiquette consultant based in Charleston, SC. She previously lived in Manhattan while she studied the history, social psychology and neuroscience...

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