Dealing With Disappointment If You Don’t Get a Holiday Proposal

If You’ve Been Holding out and It Doesn’t Happen, It Will Be Okay


Holiday proposals can feel like they’re everywhere. We see friends getting engaged on Facebook and Instagram and that can put pressure on your relationship. It’s not uncommon to get excited and hold out for a holiday proposal—even if you’ve never discussed it with your partner. But just because other people are doing it doesn’t mean your partner is going to do the same.

“There’s always a danger of holding out hope for a holiday (New Year’s, birthday, Valentine’s Day) proposal,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein tells Brides. “The biggest problem is that you no longer see the forest for the trees. The most important thing becomes whether or not your partner proposes, and if they don't, people can lose all sense of proportion and joy that they might otherwise be feeling during this time. You might have parties, plans, and traveling that should be joyful experiences, but suddenly everything hinges on whether or not a proposal happens.”

And it’s natural to be upset if you are disappointed, but if you’re feeling low because you didn’t get a holiday proposal, it’s time to take a step back and focus on the big picture. You should focus on the fact that you’re in a happy relationship—and make sure that you’re both on the same page about where that relationship is. After all, it’s not fair to be angry at your partner for not doing something if he or she had no idea you were expecting it. And if you keep a clear head, your relationship will move past this and even be stronger for it. Here’s how to deal with the disappointment.

Be Thankful for How Good the Relationship Is

First, the most important thing should be that you’re in a great relationship. Don’t let the lack of a holiday proposal obscure that. “It also turns the proposal into something that it’s not, which is a referendum on your entire relationship,” Harstein says. “If you are happy, well-suited, and generally headed in the same direction as your partner, then you are likely in a pretty good place.” Think of how happy you are with how the relationship is now rather than focusing on what didn’t happen.

Keep Some Perspective

Holiday relationships feel like they’re everywhere—but they’re actually not all that common. Talk to your other friends who are in long-term relationships and aren’t engaged to get some perspective. And, if you need to, never be afraid to take a step back from social media. It rarely makes you feel better about things, so give yourself a break.

Don’t Doom Your Relationship

You need to make sure that any disappointment doesn’t infect your relationship. Don’t plant a bad seed in your own mind. “If you determine that the lack of a proposal suggests your relationship is doomed, then it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Hartstein says. Instead, focus on all of the things you are excited for in the future and remember that an engagement will happen when you’re both ready.

Talk to Your Partner

If you’re really upset about the lack of a proposal, you may need to take a moment and make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about where you are in your relationship. “Once the new year has begun, then bring up the topic of a proposal and have a mature conversation as to a timeline, and remember this is for the rest of your life and doing it on a specific day or not is silly in the picture of life,” Dawn Michael, M.A., Ph.D., ACS, CSC, tells Brides. “There are going to be many disappointments throughout a couple’s life together, and working through them is more important than the disappointment. Use this as an opportunity to sharpen your communication skills with each other over very big issues.” You can use the misunderstanding to strengthen the relationship and also to reconnect with your partner so that there are no unexpected disappointments in the future.

Consider Proposing Yourself

Who cares if it bucks tradition? You’re an agent in your own life. If you really feel like you and your partner are ready and your proposal is past due, then what’s to stop you from going out there and doing it yourself? More and more women are doing it—and it’s about time. They are equal partners in their relationships. And if the idea of proposing scares you that much, then maybe it’s okay to wait a little longer before you get engaged.

If you’ve been secretly holding out for a proposal, then it’s natural to feel disappointed if one doesn’t come your way, especially during the holidays, when it can feel like they’re everywhere. But try to keep some perspective. Focus on how amazing your relationship is, and make sure that your lines of communication are where they should be; you can’t be angry at your partner if he or she had no idea you were even hoping for one. Enjoy what’s great about your relationship, and if you really want an engagement, don’t be afraid to make it happen yourself.

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