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This past week, Orlando Scandrick and Draya Michele called off their engagement less than a month after initially announcing it. Following news of the couple’s split, rumors began to spread, and questions popped up about how authentic the engagement really was. Unsubstantiated stories claimed Draya purchased her ring and made plans for a wedding without receiving a proper marriage proposal. But those stories were quickly put to rest by Scandrick, who confirmed that he did purchase an engagement ring and proposed. As for Michele, she also shut down the lies, saying, “I would NEVER buy my own ring or fake an engagement.”

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t initially turned off by the idea of a woman purchasing her own engagement ring. If I were to describe the consensus of this sort of thing in one word, I think most people find such a move to be a “desperate” one. Naturally, people would assume that if a woman buys her own ring, her partner is probably not all that into her, and she’s pushing him to marry her. Or, she is interested in having the fanciest ring possible to keep up appearances.  She wants one that her man can’t provide on his own, so she makes the big purchase. While it’s easy to understand why a person would turn up their nose at this type of decision, we have to be honest about where this kind of thinking is rooted and why such a move is labeled as taboo.

It’s tradition: Man buys lady a big rock; man gets down on one knee; man asks woman to marry him. The way our society is set up, anything outside of this “norm” will have outsiders side-eyeing the legitimacy of the relationship. But if I take some time to unpack my issues with a woman purchasing her own engagement ring or proposing, no doubt, they’re all muddied with patriarchal views of the way engagements “should” occur.

Can you recall the way you felt when Chrissy asked Jim Jones to marry her during an episode of Love & Hip Hop? The feeling I had was an uncomfortable one. I could hardly watch it happen. But nowadays, that uncomfortable feeling is the same reaction I have watching women in comment sections scolding other women who take this kind of “hands-on approach” to marriage. As previously mentioned, yes, it is uncommon to hear of a woman who proposes or purchases her engagement ring, but it’s a mistake to put the d-word on her. If we label her as desperate, then we are inadvertently accepting all of the other dated patriarchal labels and expectations that limit, generalize and shortchange women.

I attended a wedding in which the legitimacy of the relationship was in question. As rumor would have it, the bride bought her ring and paid for the entire wedding and honeymoon. All her partner allegedly had to do for his wedding day was show up. He did, and he was an emotional wreck. While her eyes were dry, he was weeping. He was in tears not out of sadness, but what genuinely appeared to be adoration for his bride. In this case, the rumors could have been true, but it didn’t matter. He was in love and he was ready to get married, for real. Looking back, I may have disapproved of the alleged way she went about everything, but today, I give her kudos for going after what she wanted.

I wish that all women who desire it could receive the perfect man, equipped with the perfect proposal, the perfect wedding day, the perfect marriage, and live happily ever after. But the way reality is set up, not all of us will take the same route to matrimony. There are some women who wouldn’t dream of doing any of the aforementioned, and that’s okay. But there are also women who wouldn’t have it any other way, and that should be okay too.

What do you think? Are you for or against women buying their own engagement rings and/or proposing to their man?

Continue the conversation by following Opal on Instagram @thesnapbackmom.

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