Getting engaged is so exciting, and it's probably something you've fantasized about since you were a child. After all, proposals are always aww-worthy in the movies we watch and the books we read. But there are a few things that are starkly different between real-life proposals and their on-screen counterparts. In reality, proposals don't always go as planned, and they're not always a surprise. Especially if you live with your significant other, you might start catching hints that he or she might propose. Maybe he's acting more nervous and fidgety than normal, or you flat-out catch her Googling engagement rings while you're side-by-side on the couch. Some people even accidentally come face-to-face with the diamond itself.
How do you handle it? Do you leave it alone and just act surprised when your partner gets down on one knee? Do you fess up and let your S.O. know your eyes have seen the prize? To help you navigate the unchartered waters of this tricky situation, we turned to Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D, sexologist and author, for some expert advice.
Don't jump to conclusions.
In this situation, it can be really easy to grab your phone and call your mom or best friend to tell them the news. Yes, it's exciting, but remember that your S.O. had plans to do this in his or her own special way. "Do whatever it takes to avoid projecting your own thoughts, needs, and wants on the intentions of someone else," Dr. Holbrook says. "Be careful to avoid judgements and pressure because of what you think should be happening." While you might ultimately decide to confide in someone about what you've found, try to give yourself some time to figure out how to handle the situation first.
Control your anxiety.
Even if you've know that you want to marry your partner, coming face-to-face with the reality that it's all happening can be scary. If your gut reaction is nerves, that's okay. "Some people want to plan everything, know everything, and be able to control everything," explains Dr. Holbrook. "This unknown and uncertainty can cause anxiety, but do what you can to put it out of your head and enjoy the process and the surprise." Remember: You only get to do this once. Taper that anxiety with something relaxing, like a warm bath or a yoga class. Even talking to a counselor may help you find your center, Dr. Holbrook adds.
Avoid telling everyone you know.
Even after you've given it some thought, you might be tempted to tell your friends, family, and even coworkers about your impending engagement, but remember that this news is private until it's happened. You also can't predict how others may respond. What if someone tells you it's a bad idea to get engaged? Adding unnecessary anxiety to the situation may ruin it for you when it happens. "You can only layer on the expectations, opinions, and judgments of other people when you share this unknown with the world," reminds Dr. Holbrook.
Don't play games.
One of the hardest parts about knowing about your impending proposal is waiting for it to happen. Chances are, you probably don't know when and where your partner plans on popping the question. This might mean you'll have to sit tight for days—or even weeks or months! Dr. Holbrook warns against dropping hints or planting seeds, like telling your partner how much you love them and how you can't wait to get engaged some day." You'll only find yourself more frustrated and run the risk of frustrating your partner as well."