Valentine's Day engagement hopes crushed when you opened a box full of chocolates--instead of diamonds? You're not alone.
It probably started back in December, right? That twitchy, anxious, butterfly-in-your-stomach feeling that this holiday would be the one you'd get what you've long been waiting for: a fiancé. A lot of women in long-term, committed relationships fall into the same trap. Holiday warmth, family get-togethers and traditions like lighting the menorah or trimming the tree cultivate your desire to begin your own family. But when you tore open that little box and saw earrings instead, your heart sank and you put your hopes on February 14th.
Then the big day arrived. There may have been roses and fanfare, but Cupid's arrow didn't pierce you a ring. Now you're disappointed, frustrated, and perhaps even a bit afraid that your soulmate in shining armor doesn't want to commit.
If you still want to one day walk down the aisle, here are four tips to avoid the pre-engagement blues:
1. Don't spin stories about how your partner won't ever marry you. All you know is that he or she isn't proposing on your timeline. Challenge negative thoughts by recognizing that you're inventing dark hypotheticals to deal with the anxiety and pain of rejection. Try not to spend your time ruminating over them.
2. Be in the moment and enjoy your relationship. Don't let this disappointment cast a shadow over your time together. You love your partner enough to say "I do," so stop focusing on what you didn't get on Valentine's Day and focus on the pleasure you do get when you connect every day. Remember, you get more bees from honey than from vinegar.
3. Don't give ultimatums. They rarely work and, often, a person who is sensitive to being controlled will not respond well. Your partner may feel intruded upon, boxed in and pressured. Often, in response to this, they can distance themselves in the relationship or acquiesce. Most importantly, down the road, you won't like living with the feeling that your engagement stemmed from a "marry me or else" moment.
4. Don't keep reminding him/her that you're not engaged. Don't hint or talk constantly about friends who are engaged, or others who break up because someone won't commit. Stay away from engagement ring browsing and discussing others' wedding plans. Your partner knows you best and realizes that you're upset -- even if you haven't said anything directly or mentioned it in a while.
It's time to close the door on your disappointment and get back to being present. Enjoy your relationship! If all goes well, one day you will unexpectedly receive a ring and will have a truly memorable proposal story to share. And remember, on your 40th wedding anniversary, I can pretty much guarantee you won't be thinking it could have been your 42nd if your partner had married you earlier.