To Give A Ring Or Not Give A Ring

In the past few days, there’s been a lot of web chatter about women’s equality and what it means…A few minutes ago, I was reading the Dear Prudence column on Slate…One of the questions piqued my interest…Here it is:

I am very much in love with my girlfriend of four years and want to spend my life with her. There is one thing preventing me from popping the question: the diamond ring. My girlfriend is not overly superficial but has made it clear that she needs a “moderately good-sized ring.” I am young, in graduate school, and have no money. I would have to take out a loan to buy her what she desires. In the long term, money won’t be the issue, so my objections to buying an engagement ring are mostly philosophical: 1) Buying a diamond ring seems like buying a woman. 2) If we are equal partners, what is she buying me? 3) Diamonds fuel conflict around the world. 4) They are expensive yet inherently worthless. I have told her how I feel, and she sees my point but has indicated a ring is necessary. I can’t imagine proposing to her without one. Should I wait to propose and in the meantime try to change her mind, just buy her a stupid ring already, or take this impasse as an indicator of future conflict and move on with my life? (I don’t know if I could do the last one.)

I understand the guy’s problem…I think it’s idiotic to get into debt to buy a piece of jewellery…A ring doesn’t signify commitment, actions do…We sometimes focus too much on the symbols of marriage and the ceremony, instead of the marriage itself…I also can’t understand women who demand free diamond rings…If they want one, they should get it with their own money…But this post is not about this…It is about the second question: “If we are equal partners, what is she buying me?” I think it’s a good question…If women want equality, they too should buy their fiancés something equally expensive…After all equal=equality…How can people expect to be treated equally when it suits them and then flutter they eye lashes when it doesn’t?

What do you guys think?


“Engagement rings took off in the U.S. when the courts refused to hear “breach of promise” lawsuits. These suits were brought by women who had slept with their fiancés and then been abandoned. These women were then less attractive marriage prospects for anyone else.

Naturally, such lawsuits were sensational fun for the newspapers, and eventually the courts put a stop to the whole thing. The problem then became: how could a young affianced couple have sex with each other when she had no recourse to the law if he changed his mind? Both of them might well want to, but for the lady the risks were pretty high. And so the institution of the engagement ring came about. Such rings are non-returnable, meaning that if the man breaks off the engagement he doesn’t get the ring back. The system discourages him from running off and provides automatic compensation if he does. Very clever.” [Link]


23 thoughts on “To Give A Ring Or Not Give A Ring

  1. A good question, and one that I’ve discussed with my wife several times (in the abstract of course – in reality I we give each other gifts, and that too rarely)

    Her point of view is that if the price of women’s equality is to give up the little luxuries that make a woman special (such as the traditional ring, the holding out of the chair, the “ladies first” paradigm etc etc), then she doesn’t want women to be equal!

    I’ve asked other women this too, and they too feel that they should get to keep the privileges of womanhood and abstract equality be damned.

    Of course, these are middle class women who don’t really face inequality – I suppose the poor woman who is actively denied her rights would feel very differently.

    Moral of the story: There are two types of women. The downtrodden and the “tish”. The downtrodden want equality, and the “tish” ones don’t 😀


  2. “…it’s idiotic to get into debt to buy a piece of jewellery” – Absolutely right you are. I also liked the point about equality. Its does not seem fair to want equality only for the perks that go with it.


  3. I totally agree with what the guy says and also with you. I don’t understand women who demand expensive trinkets too. When a man/woman gift each other something because they want to or are able to, it is one thing. But demanding is another.
    About other perks of being a woman. My husband always lets me sit down if there is only one seat available. He also carries the heavier luggage. That is because he has more stamina than me, not merely because I am a woman and these are perks that go along with it.


  4. Under no circumstances would I recommend to any one to go into debts to please a girl with a diamond ring.
    If the girl is a difficult person –let the her go.
    Equality–is only a slogan.


  5. Lovely thought Bones. indeed, all the women out there demanding ‘equality’ and stating thing like, why do women need to give birth etc….. they should buy their guy diamond rings too! I for one never have, and never will believe we are the same. Men and women are uniquely distinct and different, and together we form the complete whole. And we are equal, because we are both equally important parts of the whole equation, but we are NOT the same.

    Me: Well said! Men and women are different and we (esp. some over enthusiastic feminists) should realize that…Yin and Yang…


  6. a very relevant post Bones…sometimes the fight for equal rights does go overboard at the cost of the man…. i am reading the same when the 33% reservation is now being fought….
    If the woman does not understand the responsibilities or cannot shoulder it, then her fight for equality is not fair..

    and the perks that Shail mentioned is something which we woman cannot be without.. even if we want to carry such burdens, it usually ends up with a bad back…. the after effect of child bearing 🙂

    While fighting for equality, it is good to keep in mind the differences too and let the men be men….


  7. Nice post, Sraboney! I’ve come across women who rant about equality a lot, but then they also think that it’s important for a man to be ‘chivalrous’- hold doors open for women, etc.

    A case of wanting to have your cake but eat it, too? 🙂


  8. Great topic! Poor guy..what a dilemma. I wonder , is she getting engaged to the guy or the diamond ring. Performing a lavish wedding & in the process sinking in debt can be the most ‘sweet first & bitter later’ experience me thinks.. the bitterness in this case might last yrs:-(

    Seen the movie ‘Blood Diamond’?… I kind of lost all interest in ever wearing diamonds when I watched it.

    Me: I’ve seen the movie…Yes, very depressing…

    I think a lot of women desire a diamond ring to see if the men they are marrying can support them…Also, they are hung on the fairy tale dream of being a Princess on their wedding day and so want all the frills…


  9. If women want equality, they too should buy their fiancés something equally expensive…After all equal=equality

    hehe…we guys couldn’t agree more.


  10. Hell Yeah . What do the guys get ? If this sexual politics needs to change , then such customs must go . I would rather tie a string dyed in my own blood , to prove my Love , then buy a dumb and bloody diamond Ring . Plus , restoring that pint of blood would take only a week or so . 😉


  11. GEEEEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a post and what a header !!!!!!!!!! 🙂 😀 😀 😀

    I just figured someone owes me a few Rings !!!! earrings !!!!! and bangles !!!!!!!!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I AM RICH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! heeee haw !!!!! :mrgreen:


  12. The story of how the institution of the engagement ring came about was an interesting one. Almost like a non-refundable ‘token’ that one gives to seal a transaction, particularly property transactions in India.

    In this case, the demand is for a ‘moderately good-sized ring’, again underpinning the commercial nature of the demand….the ‘buyer’ is at fault for getting too attached to a particular ‘option’, and this can only be a bad deal for him. Perhaps he should defer ‘purchase’ plans, or to scout the market some more… 😉

    On the other hand, courtesy is a good thing. And it would be a shame if we lose these little gestures in this shrill battle for equality.


    Quirky Indian


  13. I am all for equality, but the problem is my husband would rather die than to sport a ring or for that matter any jewellery. So I get all the gifts and he ends up getting all the thank yous. Because how many gadgets can you buy a man?
    On a rather serious note, I do understand what you have said here. We women must perceive ourselves as equal and decide to take equal responsibilty. All talk of equality is meaningless otherwise.


  14. I have to say this is quite ridiculous; but in the West, I believe flaunting your diamond ring has become mandatory. I honestly can’t understand why you would expect someone you love to go into debt, simply for a piece of jewellery. My husband and I brought each other rings for our engagement ceremony, but it was because we could…I didn’t see it as mandatory at all. The woman in the story seems to be pretty mercenary to be “demanding” a good-sized ring. Interestingly, in South Indian weddings, until a generation ago, only the groom used to receive a ring…

    Bones, I don’t know if you saw my recent piece on chivalry – my idea was something similar – I want equality any day rather than special treatment and such rubbish. Of course, physical limits may exist, but these are fewer than we commonly think.

    Me: In Bengali weddings too, there’s no exchange of rings…At the time of ‘kanyadaan’, the bride’s father gives the groom a ring and watch…

    No, I haven’t read it but I will…


  15. I like the gleeful smile on Hitch’s face, after reading his comment. LOL !!!

    The question posed is quite right – why do women need a diamond solitaire engagement ring, when she cant give anything back to the man ???? Actually, I dont like the forced way of women getting things done. If the diamond is coming as a mark of love from the man, its OK. But it cannot be forced, is my view.


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