What's a Proposal Without Nerves? Why Pre-Engagement Anxiety Is a Good Thing

You've decided to propose. This is it. After this moment, you are no longer one person. You're choosing to enter into a lifelong commitment, forever tethering yourself to another human being. Not only are you crossing this hugely daunting threshold, but decades of rom-coms and TLC shows have set the expectation that you'll propose with cinematic flair and knight-in-shining-armor poise.

Why wouldn't you have a little pre-engagement anxiety?

As soon as your fiancée-to-be starts flaunting that ring, you know the next question will be, "How did he propose?" Here's a little secret: if more fiancées were to answer this accurately, they'd say something like, "It was pretty awkward. He was really sweaty, and the whole day leading up to it, he was all crabby and distracted, and we couldn't stop bickering. I wasn't expecting it, and I couldn't even control my face when he asked. I think I gave him an odd look."

Of course, she may not remember it at all. There's a good chance she'll be as flustered as you. Between the two of you, you may experience what is known as "proposal blackout." Yes, that's a real thing. Ask anyone who is currently engaged, and they'll confirm. But ask anyone who has been hitched for five or more years and they might not remember not remembering.

Here's the thing: as you tell the story of your proposal together over and over, you leave out the stutters, the stumbles, the way you fumbled the box, and how you had a stain on your tie. The story focuses on the preparation you put in, the burst of emotions you felt, and the wild roller coaster of wedding planning that followed. The memory and meaning of the moment get polished into canon, while the misgivings about your performance and execution fade.

But really, who cares about that part? You only get one take at the grand gesture, and what it says matters far more than how you say it. Sometimes memory serves you well. Other times, forgetting serves you even better. Pre-engagement anxiety is a good thing. It means your proposal is big, meaningful, and important to both of you. When the stakes are that high, overlooking the silly details is easier than you'd expect.