Proposals: The 5 Most Common Mistakes

Planning to pop the question? For your sanity -- and their how-it-happened story -- know the most common proposal bloopers and how to avoid them.
Nervous about the impending big day? No, not the wedding, the proposal! Remember: It's not what you do but what she -- or he! -- says that really matters. We know, we know: Not only do you want an unbridled "YES!" but you want him or her to feel the full impact of your feelings, be surprised, and/or have a killer tale to tell. To that end, here are five common proposal mistakes and tips to avoid them.

Premature Proposing
You've met someone who makes your toes curl and you're all ready to put in that white picket fence. Whoa, cowboy! Proposing when you're still in the dizzy stage -- before you've tackled some real relationship challenges, survived your beloved's every mood, and received unequivocal signs that she or he is ready to move full steam ahead -- may either scare them off (at worst) or result in an awkward "No" (or at best "not yet").

It's Not About You
Planning a proposal he or she will love is all about tailoring your approach to what will surprise and delight the person being asked, not what you envision to be the ultimate scenario. Opposites often do attract, and if you are gregarious and your sweetie is very private, popping the question in front of a crowd may mortify her. Her focus will be on everyone staring her down, not the sparkly stone you're offering. (If you're not sure what she'd prefer, reread mistake #1. Maybe you need to spend more time together!)

Too Complicated
Attempt an elaborate proposal at your own risk. Like weddings and love itself, popping the question is far from an exact science. Is a plan that hinges on an event (or series of events) happening on cue worth the stress of obsessing about it? If something as simple as a traffic jam or rainstorm can totally ruin your plan, scrap it. Remember, you need to be relaxed and as "in the moment" as she is.

Being Too Hard on Yourself
This goes hand-in-hand with #3. Even the simplest proposals can veer off course. Our advice: Keep your plan loose and flexible. The ideal plan can be set in motion when the time feels perfectly right, i.e., you're both in a good mood, and feeling footloose and fancy-free. For those who don't feel like carrying a ring around at all times, this is your mantra: There is no such thing as a perfect proposal. Add: I embrace obstacles.

Forcing the Issue
Last but not least, if he or she doesn't scream "YES!" right away or needs time to decide, don't turn into a sulking sop. This will not bode well for an acceptance, and you shouldn't guilt her or him into a lifetime commitment! If your sweetie is the cautious type, plan your proposal at the end of the night. If/when he or she asks for a deferment, you can gracefully and respectfully consent, then say good night so you don't have to continue the night together in tortured uncertainty. Of course, have a bottle of bubbly waiting in the wings should the answer be, "Yes."


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