You’ve seen the statuses (“I said YES!”) and the ring selfies (“He put a ring on it!”). You’ve also memorized the jewelry store slogans: “He went to Jared,” “Every kiss begins with Kay,” and so on.
Everyone, it’s here. It’s engagement season.
And if engagement season makes you contemplate a swift death, you’ve come to the right place. Put the chocolate and wine away, because here are some healthy ways to sift through the engagement season frenzy.
1. Recognize That Love Is Not Seasonal, and Love Cannot Be Rushed
Marriage is a serious, long-term commitment. Seasons, on the other hand, come and go.
People tend to get engaged during the holiday season because that’s when families and friends come together, and we really take the time to express our appreciation for one another. It’s a perfect time for couples to take the next step.
By occurring at the same time each year, however, engagement season produces anxiety when we expect something to happen.
Engagement season brings back-to-back jewelry and online dating commercials on TV; and when coupled with real-life engagement announcements, all of this can trigger feelings of failure.
These thoughts might sound familiar: What the hell?! Everyone is getting engaged! I’ve been in this relationship for x years – when will it be my turn? Oh, stick a fork in my eye, I’m not even in a relationship!
But let’s be realistic.
Seasons come and go. They are designed to make you feel left out. Take fashion, for instance, where there is a constant fear of either “missing out” or being “too late.”
The path to marriage (again, a life-long commitment) should not be dictated by any season or fad.
2. Recognize That a Lot of Money Is Made Off of This Anxiety
No fad is complete without some (okay, a lot of) materialism, and the engagement season is no different.
Every time you feel left out from the engagement craze, you’re presented with a solution – and that solution comes with a price tag.
Still single? You are missing out!! Your future spouse is waiting! Join an online dating site.
Need help looking attractive? Alcohol will loosen you up at the next party and special yogurt will help you lose weight without much pain.
Need to express your undying love? Well, the ring has got to have a custom-designed diamond, words of romance hidden inside, and – yes – it does matter which store you went to.
Recognize that these products sell best when we buy into the idea that they will solve our problems, and these “problems” are man-made.
For instance, who decided that a single woman past the age of thirty is in danger of becoming a spinster while the “the most interesting man in the world” (you know who I’m talking about) can rock bachelorhood at the ripe age of… sixty?
Let’s be clear.
Men and women do not have ticking clocks that dictate the appropriate age for marriage. Attractiveness should not be a trick nor should it be dictated by your weight. Men do not need to plan the perfect proposal to take the next big step in their relationships.
Products cannot buy the perfect love or expedite happiness.
3. Recognize That Love Is Between Two (or More!) People – Any People
Speaking of perfect love, most of the commercials this engagement season feature your average heteronormative couple. That is, your typical man and woman (read: white and above average in the looks department).
Don’t fall prey to this illusion.
These people are not the average American viewer. Heck, some people don’t even believe in marriage.
Next time, pay attention to the type of love presented to viewers. How many featured couples are people of Color? Interracial? Between two different genders?
Though there are some queer-friendly proposals trending on YouTube, a majority of commercials still feature men picking out rings, planning the proposal, and popping the question. Most mainstream online dating services also feature white heterosexual couples.
If you do not fit this idea of perfect love, why should you adhere to these products? When you are able to critically analyze the traditional engagement storyline, you can step back and separate the real-life from the commercial.
4. Recognize That Technology Helps Amplify the Magnitude of Engagement Season
But even if we turn off the TV, we are still bombarded with engagement season online.
A typical friend’s engagement announcement and/or ring selfie will get about 300 likes and 50 comments, so you better believe that baby will stay on your newsfeed for days.
I am overjoyed when people decide that they love one another and are ready to spend their lives together. But, yes, it can get annoying, and that annoyance can fester.
It’s easy to roll your eyes and misinterpret your overactive newsfeed as “my friend is showing off her engagement again…”
However, when placing blame, it is important to separate the people from the technology. The same technology that allows us to easily access #dubstepcat enables us to follow an engagement online by prioritizing trending events in our newsfeed.
Engagements are meant to be celebrated, because they are a big deal!
But perhaps put down that shoe you were about to throw. Step back and recognize that maybe the problems lies in your newsfeed filters and not your friends’ legitimate happiness.
5. Recognize All the Love in Your Life
And finally, please recognize that although engagement season does coincide with the holiday season, it should not dictate the holiday season.
For some, the holidays are the perfect time to take the next step in their relationship while family and friends are gathered. But their decision should not be used to measure your personal happiness.
Romantic love is just one type of love.
Take this time to appreciate all your relationships with family and friends. Try to express your appreciation through shared experiences rather than the buying of more products or comparing your status to those of others.
Most importantly, remember to recognize the love you have for yourself. That is the longest and most intimate relationship in your life. Take care of it! You are wonderful the way you are, and you will follow your own timeline.
So, this engagement season, watch commercials and read engagement statuses with a critical eye, but do not disparage love.
Love is a beautiful thing!
Amy Sun is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She currently lives in DC and rues cold weather. Amy coaches new teachers in the classroom by day and teaches graduate-level classes by night. She watches at least two cat videos each day, loves to talk about zombie apocalypse escape plans, and needs to get paid for her people-watching (because she is very good at it). Read her articles here.