BY JENN B.
My partner recently gave me promise ring, which prompted a lot of discussion about promise rings within the lesbian community and in general. Most of discussion revolved around the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring, which I actually found to be kind of shocking.
The obligatory social media post about the new shiny piece of jewelry on my left hand clearly stated that it was not an engagement ring because people started to ask when we were getting married the moment I wore the sucker out to a group gathering of friends.
For me, I left like I was defending the purpose and validity of my promise ring, which made me start to think, are promise rings not relevant to my generation?
In this digital age, where people have become accustomed to instant gratification on just about everything, has this demand for information become the norm for every aspect of our lives? Having found myself in a situation where I not only had to refute the notion that I was engaged, but defending the choice that neither my partner nor I wanted to be married at the present moment, threw me for a loop. What happened to being content with waiting?
Many of our friends and people we talked to after explaining the concept of our promise ring (jewelry to signify our commitment to each other until we get married) still found the concept to be archaic and meaningless. The idea of waiting to get married after being together for a couple of years and also getting a piece of not-so-cheap jewelry to signify that, seemed to mystify people.
After talking more with people, it became apparent that promise rings did not seem to be in line with the average expectation of the course of a relationship, specifically for lesbians. Apparently, the order of operations was, you date for a little bit, you get engaged, then you get married all within the course of a couple of years. If you wait too long, then obviously your relationship isn’t solid enough for getting hitched. If you go too fast, then you’re viewed as impulsive (especially for women). But, what about the middle ground? There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to reflect and appreciate the enormity of a decision of getting married.
While there is the joke that lesbians move towards a monogamous committed relationship too fast, is this really the norm in our community? or are we turning myth into a so-called reality?
Personally, I’m more surprised when I meet a lesbian couple and they’re married, merely because I don’t see marriage as the end goal for every romantic relationship. But I was kind of shocked that people assumed that since I’m with a woman and it’s legal to get married where I live, why wouldn’t I just go and get married.
Luckily, I’m an understanding person and I have friends who are interested in understanding my thoughts. I patiently explained that while eventually we would get married, right now wasn’t the time because we are happy the where the relationship is at this moment. At the first party where I wore my promise ring, this explanation was shortened to “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it” by the end of the night.
The entire experience of having discussions about my ring has taught me to believe even more strongly in one of my many life mantras: Do you. I don’t need to justify my decision to not get married right now, but I’ll explain it to people who matter most to me in my life. But everyone else just has to deal with my pretty promise ring. Whether it’s an engagement ring or a promise ring (or something else), just rock it.
So, what do you think: Are promise rings dead?
Jenn B. holds a Master in Public Health with a focus on women’s health as well as a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.