When celebrities like the slow jam musician Ed Sheeran wear men’s engagement rings many people, male and female alike, wonder if this is another rock star extravaganza fad or a new jewelry trend.
To find out if guys should wear engagement rings I again went around and gathered all relevant voices from men, women, and relationship experts to help you decide for yourself.
Guys usually don’t wear engagement rings as Western tradition says that only girls should wear them. The age-old etiquette from then when a girl was considered property of her father is questioned today. However, then the ring was required in order to protect her from a possible withdrawal stigma.
The more interesting story about male engagement rings is on one side the backstory of how this custom was originally established, and on the other hand the current engagement proposal practices we observe today in the USA and beyond.
Engagement Ring Etiquette: Are guys supposed to wear them?
The first thing we have to acknowledge is that most men in the Western hemisphere do not wear engagement rings, even beneficial, because often considered manly jewelry like tungsten rings.
The reason is based on many factors, mainly on traditions dating back to times when the role of males and females was defined stark differently than we know it today.
To have a better understanding of why boys don’t put an engagement ring on their finger we have to make a quick history segway.
Short History of Engagement Rings & Men
A woman before the turn of the 20th century and shortly after in the Western culture like North America or Europe was simply a property of her father with no inherent rights as we know it today (Source).
This marriage rule was based partly on tradition as well as on Christianity and eventually evolved into a socially accepted custom throughout the world. At least as far as the European values expanded during colonization, though every region has its unique wedding customs.
The engagement ring for women is an integral part of these implied values shared by most then. It symbolized that a man proposes to her and her family, especially the father as the caretaker and often the official head of the family.
This proposal leads to the father accepting that his daughter and property by the law of the old days is going to be transferred into another man’s household.
This transaction takes place in the form of an engagement ring, ideally a shining diamond ring for her.
Today, things are quite different, especially in a modern family structure, however then and even up to now conservative customs prevail to some degree.
Why diamond as an engagement jewelry ring?
A diamond ring is an asset that can be exchanged or pawned at any time in case the groom-to-be decides to withdraw from the wedding plans.
The withdrawal represents a significant stigma by the norms of the past since she’s going to be valued as a lower wedding partner by society who thinks a non-married girl who’s lost her virginity is a bad party.
Judging by the norms of yesterdays, a diamond engagement ring is an asset and safety net for her and in some places like the orient gifting a bride fine gold jewelry chains and rings still lives on.
Why do only men propose though?
This loss of value needs to be compensated accordingly, hence the diamond engagement ring and why only men propose. It’s a kind of insurance plan should things go wrong before the knot.
Why do (some) men wear engagement rings?
There are males who have come out and are now proudly wearing an engagement ring on their fingers.
These men can be grouped into 4 different types:
Four Types of men wearing engagement rings
- Celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Michael Bublé or Jonny Depp,
- Male gay couples and,
- Men who consider themselves modern and egalitarian or
- She made it a precondition to marriage
The reason for this new trend in terms of publicly wearing the rings is many folds, but looking at the research initially quoted above, it is evident that times have gradually changed.
Why men wear engagement rings:
The first group of stars in the public eye, including the infamous Charlie Sheen, put an engagement ring on their finger because they seek attention and at best may want to drive a cause.
The second argument is that gays are usually progressive when it comes to relationships status. They are looking for acceptance from society and especially women to push their agenda forward.
They feel it is their right and sign of love to gift each other as well as wear an engagement proposal ring.
The third pro-male engagement rings group is males who don’t believe in the old tradition of boys proposing to her, and she accepts by wearing the sparkling ring of emotional and monetary value at the same time.
The fourth and last groups are boys and grown-up men who have no other choice when they want to get married because their significant other expects them to wear the ring just like they do.
The man who wears an engagement ring from her is considered a simp within the bro code male groups. In other words, a foolish man with no backbone and only worships her without getting anything equally in return (Source).
This reversed stigma in comparison to the age-old one when she was dumped before the wed is obviously an obstacle for many males to consider wearing a ring as an engagement commitment.
Is there a way out of this conundrum, whatever he decides to do, it’s wrong!
Economics of Engagement Ring for Him
Maybe the world of business has a handy solution for all men ready to move on.
All four groups of ring-ready males have indirectly created a new whole market, albeit small compared to the $100 billion engagement and wedding ring industry in the US alone, generally solely geared to women putting the ring on it (Source).
By the way, one of the best jewelry for men is tungsten rings, cuffs, or necklaces, because this type of accessory is considered manly.
Especially black tungsten jewelry possesses typical properties that are associated with manhood, unlike rose gold for example which has a feminine touch.
Of course, these etiquette and categories are all somehow cliché, if not outdated by some. Nevertheless, people are different and we should respect that and give them whatever they prefer when no one gets hurt, but heard.
Traditionalist vs Modern Men
It has turned the world upside down for some traditionalists. On both gender sides, there are people who still consider a marriage holy in the way that things should be done, the good, old style.
A man proposes and a woman wears the ring on her finger as a symbol of her respect towards traditions and herself.
The notion that a man is allowed to wear a wedding band, but not an engagement ring is foreign to this new breed of brave men, who break with the old no matter what.
Some women too are not ready to break away from this custom, although, strangely enough, they would otherwise consider themselves progressive, if not even feminist.
At work and in public life they perform activities equal to men, however, when it comes to relationships antiquated norms are perpetuated, including who pays, opens the door, drives, and so on.
Evidently, feminists see this practice as another sign of patriarchy that needs to be removed or adjusted via equal treatment.
The economics leads us also to the fact that women of today are highly educated, independent, and earn their money, which wasn’t the case back in the days most of the time.
Therefore, the need to fund their future life without a groom when he prematurely drops out of the engagement is, from the monetary point of view, an unnecessary relict of the past.
She can buy him a ring or the other way around, maybe ideally mutually. Personally, I believe the two people in a romantic relationship should independently decide what kind of proposal they want for each other.
It shouldn’t be either or when love is supreme. External pressure from different sides like friends, family, and society to do this or that can make or break relationships as you may know or even experience.
Do not let it happen to you. Talk to your spouse and develop that bond that will weather the storms of life.
What about starting with a smaller present like an affordable personalized birthstone ring for him or her?
This will show your love proclamation without the emotions of a proposal involved and the controversy sometimes associated with modern wedding practices.
Does The Man Get The Engagement Ring Back?
A male who gives an engagement ring to a female during a proposal can according to many court decisions in the United States expect to receive it back. The reason for that is that an engagement ring is a voluntary, albeit conditional, jewelry gift to her.