There's a plethora of relationship milestones out there, like meeting the parents for the first time, but proposals have turned into a legit social media phenomenon.
For one, you have the right to say no. And doing so shouldn't mean you're doomed to an embarrassing YouTube "proposal fail" video forever. Saying "no," for whatever reason, shows that you're empowered enough to make the best decision for yourself.
Still anxious? Check out a few failed proposals we compiled from this Reddit thread below. All involve a "no" or two, or four. But things work out in the end.
"I proposed after dating my girlfriend for two years. I was about to graduate college and move away, and she was a year behind me.
I had the ring, everything perfectly planned, we discussed our future together. When I proposed, she initially said yes. About half an hour later, she seemed off. I asked her if anything was wrong, and she said she needed to think. We talked for awhile, and then she said changed her answer. She said we were too young, she wanted to be on her own for awhile, to be independent, etc...
Jokes on her though, because now we're married.
Edit: OK, didn't expect this much attention. To explain, yes, we are married to each other (and she does know). We stayed together afterward and another year later I proposed again, that time with a longer lasting success." — LadyAndTheWorst
"My dad proposed to my mom after they'd been seeing each other for just under two weeks. She laughed and basically told him he was crazy, that it was way too soon. My dad said (and he is very proud of this fact), 'Fine. I asked you once. I'm not gonna ask again.' My mom thought he was bluffing. After a year of dating she started giving him a hard time about not asking her to get married again, and he stuck to his guns and said she missed her chance and he wasn't going to ask again.
My mom finally broke down and asked him to marry her. Made sure she properly took the piss out of him when she did it, too. Made a big show about asking his father for permission, got down on one knee in public, got him the gaudiest engagement ring she could find. He said yes and they just celebrated their 30 anniversary." — Wissix
"I'm the denier. I'd been dating this girl for six months, and it was going pretty well. We hardly ever fought, but when we did it was hard for us to get back to normal.
At a good point, she said 'I feel like I should pop the question.' I have absolutely no poker face, and she instantly saw that I wasn't on board. As a child of the 80s, ALL of my friends had parents who'd divorced, and I'd made an oath to myself that I was just going to be married once. I liked this girl a lot, but I wasn't convinced yet that what we had was going to last forever.
So, we stayed together, went to couples counseling, and learned how to fight. It sounds strange, but I can't tell you how effective it was. We learned that my conflict pattern is to constantly work on a problem until it's solved, where her pattern is to blow off steam over time. The result was that I would keep conversations going when we fought, and would basically chase her around keeping her mad and blocking her attempts at breaking off to cool down. I learned to just let her be mad, and check back in later, and she learned to say 'I just need to be by myself for a bit.' It worked.
Our 'good relationship with rough fights' turned into 'great relationship with mature, low drama fights'. Conflicts that used to hang a dark cloud over the house for days were now resolved in hours. At that point I felt comfortable enough to say yes to a year-long engagement.
....and we've now been married 18 years, have supported each other through thick and thin, and are raising two awesome kids." — Blenderbuss
"Proposed to girlfriend after she got off work on a Monday with her favorite meal prepared, and the apartment all lit with candles, rose petals on the floor after having had a special weekend together (she is shy and promised violence if proposed to in public).
She said no no no! No! NO! when I asked her to marry me as she came in the door to our apartment.
She worked in the medical field and had puke all over her.....
She showered and said yes." — Morgsz
"I've had three or four no's depending on how you count.
First one was initially a yes. We'd had a mostly long distance romance and I proposed after a couple years, but we still hardly knew each other. After visiting her family, and spending time learning less flattering things about me, I think I became tarnished in her eyes and she broke it off.
Second one, I proposed once, she said yes, and then when she called her parents the next day they refused to recognize the engagement and pushed her to cut it off. I hadn't met them.
Third time, same girl as second. We were engaged for a few months, even took our invite pictures. We were apart for three months before the wedding so I could complete a work project. During that time, I had a crisis of conscience and felt like I needed a little more time. I asked her to push back the wedding, saying I loved her but I wasn't quite ready. She simply called it off. Absolutely gutted me. And I'm sure it wrecked her too. I suspect her parents had some influence, but in the end I think it was probably for the best.
Fourth time, new girl, three years later. We'd been best friends who fell into dating. I'd gotten a new job and was leaving town and wanted to take her with me to kinda start grown-up life together. So I proposed marriage. It was too early in the relationship (5 months) and it was a bad decision. She had a missionary opportunity that she took and left town.
Fifth time I proposed, new girl in a new town. We'd been dating a year. She said yes, and we have three kids and 13 mostly great years together."
TL;DR Keep trying." — keylimesoda
"I was at the beach with my best girl, I had planned everything out. There is a beautiful bench overlooking the ocean. We went and sat on the bench and just as I was about to propose, a couple walked by talking loudly. No problem, I'll just wait until there are no people around. I was apparently mumbling to myself. It took 30 minutes. Finally when there was a break in the people I pretended like I had to tie my shoe and then proposed.
I was so nervous I just blurted out 'marriage party.' She laughed and looked confused with a tint of pity. After collecting herself, she said no and asked to go back to the car. I felt dejected. I wanted to walk into the ocean and keep going until I died or found a mermaid bride. When we were at the car she said "let's try again."
I assumed she meant our relationship, like to work on it. She asked me to propose again. I asked her to marry me and then said marriage party again because my brain is broken. She said yes. Our wedding anniversary is in two weeks." — partydelux
"I proposed after three-ish years of dating and one year of living together and she said no. I was offering her my great-grandparents wedding ring. That was Friday night. By Sunday night, after a trip to her parents, she came back and told me that she was gay. That was 22 years ago.
Since then I have been married for 16 years to the next woman I dated. My wife has the wedding ring that I offered to my ex. The gay girlfriend has been with her partner for nearly 22 years. I have a daughter and they have a girl and a boy. I love them and they are just the best people ever. This is a bullet we both dodged." — prohaska
"I turned down a proposal using the excuse that he was drunk. He was but I knew he was serious. I drove him home and tried the old 'I want to be friends' speech but he shut me down. He said if I didn't love him he would just have to get over me. And he got out of the car and walked away.
A day later I realized what a fucking idiot I was being and I called him.
Tomorrow is our 26th anniversary." — SkinnyFatgirl21
"My friend's parents met at a bar down the shore. Her dad was crazy about her mom, but it was unrequited. She slept with him anyway, just a one night stand, and ignored him after that. Until she found out she was pregnant.
He was over the moon and she was intent on having the baby. He tried to be with her, but she consistently refused him. Proposed to her several times, ending in eye rolls and exasperated 'no's from her each time.
After nine months, she went into labor and let him come with her into the delivery room. Just her and this guy who had been begging her to marry him. A few hours into labor, the doctors started to notice something was wrong. The baby's heartbeat was slowing rapidly.
The mother started to panic, but the father stayed calm. He stayed with her and communicated information from the doctors. But there was little anyone could do. She delivered a stillborn.
After everything happened, my friend's mom realized she had found her soulmate. They finally got together and are still married to this day." — veraxvera
"Not denied during a proposal but 99% sure she realized I was going to propose and bailed before I had the chance.
Eight years and change together, everything seemed totally fine. We talked about a future together plenty of times, engagement rings, jobs, housing, kids, etc. The job and housing parts were going forward and she had shown me rings and talked weddings plenty so it felt like it was time to finally do that. Bought a ring, tried planning some neat trips to take her on for an awesome proposal, they kept not happening, Finally decided I was just going to do it around New Years, but right before that she bailed. Timing was just so perfect for her not to have figured it out.
Never really got an explanation, just the general, "I love you but I'm not in love with you."
One of those kinda generic statements that you hate to get, especially after so long, but at the same time I'm sure there was plenty of legitimacy to it. We met when we were young and we grew into different people. People change a lot between the mid-teens and mid-twenties.
We tried to maintain a friendship for a while after that but it was super hard for me because I was still totally into her. I had to basically drop off the map entirely for a year or so because we shared the same social circle and I just got so incredibly uncomfortable around her. No hard feelings I guess at the end of the day, it sucked, but it wasn't like something awful happened between us. Eventually, we just stopped talking. She drifted to a new social group, I got back in mine, life goes on." — madshw
"My parents met in high school. My dad was the new kid and my mom saw him get off the bus, walked up to him and said 'That jacket looks warm!' and he said 'Wanna share?' She jumped into the jacket with him and they walked around like dorks sharing a jacket. They were best friends for 5 years. My mom watched my dad be a huge player and fall head over heels for and date nearly every girl in school, but they were just friends.
They used to always kiss each other goodbye on the cheek, but one day when they were about 21 he snuck a real one from her. She was taken aback, and he confessed he was in love with her and had to be with her. My mom was like 'Yeah sure you definitely 'love' me and aren't just bored but sure, let's date.'
They dated for two years and my dad proposed six times. My mom always said no because she just didn't really believe he would ever be able to settle down. Finally he got her a custom-made opal ring and planned a romantic proposal, and she said yes! They had a beautiful backyard wedding and built their dream life together." — HNSUSN
"She said no, because she didn't think we were ready yet. She was a senior in college, I had graduated but hadn't found a good job in my field.
After graduation, and her getting a professional job (And me getting a not quite so crappy job).
We got married exactly one year later, on the anniversary of the day she said no the first time.
19 years and four kids later, it's going pretty well." — roboninjapirate
"I said no. We'd been dating about a year, lots of drama from my family who didn't approve. We had been arguing for a couple of days (I have no idea now what it was about) and as far as I knew, we'd broken up. I was pretty heartbroken. He showed up at my apartment late at night with champagne and a red rose and asked me to marry him. I was shocked. Told him I'd think about it and after a week or so, told him no because if we were ready to break up it wasn't a good idea to get married. We stayed together though, worked on just having fun and being happy together. I also sorted out the issues with my family (told them they didn't get to control my life!) and we eventually moved in together.
Six months later, I remember he was asking me to make a compromise about something and I said 'well, that's something you should ask of your wife, not your girlfriend' — about two months later he surprised me with a proposal (we were on an airplane and he had arranged for the pilot ask the question over the speakers so the entire cabin could hear — that took a lot of confidence). I practically dove under the seat I was so surprised and when I sat up there were several flight attendants, flowers, my boyfriend, a ring in my face and an entire cabin cheering. I said yes after being reminded to breathe and that it would be appropriate to answer. The pilot announced my answer and the cabin cheered again. We were married within six months and recently celebrated our 16 year anniversary with our three children." — calmeg
"Mine was more of a 'shit or get off the pot' deal. We had been together on and off for five years. She kept coming back and telling me she couldn't live without me, then get sick of my shit and drop me for a few months at a time.
(And make no mistake, I was a no-esteem whiner back then).
She knew I am the marrying type, but she could not commit. Finally, after I had moved into my own apartment away from roommates, she asked to move in. I basically countered with a marriage proposal, knowing in the back of my head she would likely say no.
That's what happened, and we never got back together. 18 months later, I met the woman of my dreams and now we have been happily married for over 15 years." — toothygrin1231
"I proposed after seven months of dating and she said 'no' as it was too soon. I agreed and put the ring in a safety deposit box and told her that if she changed her mind, it's there for her. After two weeks, she said 'yes' and we decided to have a long engagement period (two years) so that we could be sure. We've been married for 37 years." — blanchae
"I told my husband no the first time he asked. We were drunk and hadn't been dating long, so I thought he was joking. (He will swear to you that it was not a joke and that he would have taken me to Vegas that night if I'd said yes.)
The second time I said no, he was on R&R from deployment and I think he asked because it felt like the right thing to do since I was waiting for him to get back so we could continue dating (and not seeing anyone else while he was gone), not because he really wanted to get married.
He asked again almost as soon as he got back and I said no again, to take a few months and decompress and just date for a little while. We kept dating and talking about it and decided the time was right about six months later.
I am SO GLAD I said no all those times. Not because he wasn't the right one, but because he was and I didn't want us to screw it up by getting married before we were both totally sure." — Hurras