The following is a first-hand account of what not to do after your proposal.
The week before last, I asked my long-time girlfriend to marry me. I got the engagement ring, called her folks for their blessing, got into my fanciest suit, tied the ring around the dog's neck, lit candles, bought flowers, and was there on one knee when she got home. Overall, I think I did a good job setting the whole thing up. I would like to say that I had a nice speech laid out, but it basically came out as a tender yet extremely nervous confession of my love and a request for her hand in marriage. She said yes, all was right in the world, end scene.
The funny thing is that was only the beginning. Like many hopeless romantics I had played this scene in my head for years but never thought about what happens right after you get engaged. After kissing and hugging and taking some photos, we had this "What now?" moment.
We agreed to go to the bar where we first met. We were thrilled. We wanted to tell people about the big news but didn't want a million phone calls invading our private celebratory moment. So what did we do? We opened up our phones, sent text messages to friends and family, and changed our Facebook relationship status to "engaged." We told everyone we knew in the least personal ways possible.
In retrospect this was the worst idea I've had in years. Close friends and family started calling immediately. One text message didn't make it out of my lady's phone and left a dear friend hurt, since she found out the news via Facebook. It took days to call everyone back and even then the conversations felt like we were apologizing for our lame level of initial communication. So here are my tips for anyone who wants to get engaged and wants to compassionately follow through on communicating that to others:
The future Mrs. and I are still soaking in the news, but we wish it didn't come with a lot of explaining and occasional apologies. Getting engaged is a big deal. As with anything that is a big deal, you need to communicate it in a way that is consistent with your heart. You can be mindful with your speech and only tell people how and when you feel comfortable. This is compassionate activity for yourself, but also for all of the ones you hold dear. Mazel tov!
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