Ask Team Practical: Spoiled Proposal

Did I ruin the moment?

My boyfriend and I have talked about getting married for about two years, and in that time we have talked about everything we want or don’t want, we picked out a ring and have more or less declared ourselves soon to be married, pending the proposal. Our relationship in general is a team effort, so few things get left unsaid or discussed.

That’s been all well and good. But I recently found out more details about the proposal than I would have liked—we share computers and I accidentally found out the when of it. Should I say something? Should I pretend I didn’t see anything at all? It seems silly because frankly the proposal is not much more than a formality at this point. Our friends are getting engaged left, right, and center—so yeah, I think I am putting undue pressure to compare myself to where our friends are. And sometimes I sort of feel like we are holding the phone for this big tadaa! moment, when we could just delve in and start planning. It is about us being married at the end of the day, after all.

I think I am just looking for some insight about how to handle the pre-engaged anxiety, pressure, and expectation about this “moment” of a proposal—and asking myself if I’ve ruined it now…

Somewhat Sad And Perplexed

Dear SSAP,

What I’m supposed to tell you is that engagement isn’t about a special, perfect surprise moment. It’s about the beginning of a relationship, one built on healthy communication and honesty. In light of that, who cares if the surprise is ruined? Just be honest about what you found.

That’s what I’m supposed to say. That’s the advice column answer. But, as a lady in a relationship myself? In my own life? I gotta tell you, I wouldn’t say anything to your partner.

The surprise moment is ruined for you already. Why ruin it for him? Even more than you’re invested in this happy-surprise (and I know you are), he’s probably super invested in planning and plotting and getting excited at the anticipation of just melting your face off with surprise. I wouldn’t spoil that for him. I’d even go so far as to feign shock and maybe force out a tear. Go for that Daytime Emmy, lady.

There’s possibly some bit of healthy relationship advice in there about putting your partner before yourself or some such. But the reality is that it’s probably just not that big of a deal. If you don’t tell him you found out? You’re disappointed that it’s not a surprise, but the moment still ends up being awesome and special because, girl, you’re engaged and you’re getting married and that’s emotional whether you read his email or not. If you tell him that you found out? You’re disappointed, he’s disappointed, and you both move on and figure out a new special way to have a moment (or he just gives you the ring, or something) but either way you end up engaged and you’re getting married and that’s still big.

But see, in your email? You also threw in that bit about comparing yourself to your friends and wondering if you shouldn’t be farther along, and it just makes me wonder if instead of asking, “Should I tell him?” what you’d really like to ask is, “WHY AREN’T WE ENGAGED YET?” You saw the date of the planned proposal, and instead of getting excited about that day rolling up, you started freaking out about why it hasn’t happened yet and, “What are we waiting for?”

THAT. That is the stuff that you guys need to talk about. Whether or not you glanced at an email that could possibly ruin a surprise—meh. Who cares. That’s probably not make-or-break. But, this stuff about dissatisfaction in where your relationship stands and how quickly (or slowly) it’s moving to the next phase is the stuff you need to specifically vocalize. That’s the sort of thing where honesty and communication are necessary. That’s a conversation that shouldn’t be left unsaid.

So if you are genuinely writing in to ask if you’ve ruined anything and if you should tell him you know the date? The answer is, “No,” and, “Depends.” But, if there’s a chance that instead all of that stuff made very real insecurity surface about how your relationship is (or isn’t) progressing. Talk about it. Yes, yes, yes. Talk about it.

But, no, you still didn’t ruin anything.


Team Practical, have you ever spoiled your partner’s plans to surprise you? How do you decide what to discuss honestly?

Photo: Vivian Chen Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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