My Family Told Me About My Boyfriend’s Proposal Surprise

If I tell him, it'll hurt him

Q: My boyfriend told some important people in my life that he was planning to propose, and they ended up spilling this news to me weeks in advance. Now not only is the surprise ruined, but I have to keep it secret that I know (because it would hurt him to know that they spoiled it) when we live together.

I’ve been dealing with a shit ton of trepidation that’s starting to overshadow my excitement (I’m in, but I have a general fear of commitment and decision making), and to top it off we had a fight tonight, which was resolved beautifully but still had me feeling scared the whole time that he was gonna change his mind and I wouldn’t even really be able to talk about it.

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They also let on where it’s supposed to happen, so my last trip to that place was overshadowed by constant anticipation and then disappointment when we left, rather than the general enjoyment I usually get. On top of THAT, I’m gonna have to put on a show when it happens and act surprised and go through the motions of calling friends and family for something I knew about weeks ago.

Am I wrong to be angry? How should I react? What should I do? The once-in-a-lifetime (I hope) moment is gone forever, and there’s no fixing that. How do I forgive the people who fucked this up for me? Where do I even go from here?

—Anonymous

A:Dear Anonymous,

Tell him you know. Yeah, he’s gonna be pretty angry with your people (parents? I feel like this might be your parents), but they deserve it. The only people you’re protecting by lying are the people who ruined this surprise. And they don’t deserve you covering for them.

There will be times in your marriage when complete, bare-bones honesty won’t really benefit anyone. This is not one of those times. Your partner will be pissed, but he’ll be able to plan a new surprise proposal that will actually surprise you, instead of being left in the dark, feeling like a dummy. Sure, you know there’s a proposal in the works whereas perhaps you didn’t before. Those are the broad strokes, yes, but most people sort of know when an engagement is close at hand (or at least I would recommend that you should). He can still plan a fully magical, surprising moment with thoughtful personal details that you don’t anticipate.

Plus, you’ll be able to work on the actual relationship issues that are coming up here—talking through your argument, letting him know your fears that he’ll ditch out because you had a fight.

You ask how to forgive these people, and frankly, you might be annoyed with them for awhile. But it’ll be a hell of a lot easier to get over it if you and your partner work together to fix it, rather than living with this secret for the rest of forever. Particularly if this is your parents (I’m just going to assume I’m right), you’ll have an urge to keep the peace between them and your partner, and it can feel like lying for them is the way to do it. It’s really not. In an unfortunate sort of way, this can be the changing of the guard, the passing of the baton, the move from your parents as next-of-kin to viewing your partnership as a team.

This sucks. You can’t undo it, but there’s still a lot you can do to fix it. Just, together.

—Liz Moorhead

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