Do Gay Guys Propose With Engagement Rings?

steven petrowQuestion for Steven: I’m ready to propose to my boyfriend (and I’m pretty darn sure he’s ready to say yes), but I can’t figure out if I should do it with an engagement ring. I’m all for rings; if he ends up getting me one too, that’s fine with me. But wouldn’t we then end up wearing two rings each when we add a wedding band? What do LGBT people do about rings now?

Steven: What with all the creativity and invention going on in the LGBT community around different ways of symbolizing commitment, it would be impossible to say there is a right way to get engaged. Some gay couples do end up wearing a pair of rings each once they’re married. Others wear none at all. Sometimes only one partner wears the rings in the family.

One thing’s for sure: You certainly don’t need an engagement (or wedding) ring to show commitment. Maybe you’d prefer to buy a new bed together instead. Spend more on your honeymoon. Or get a puppy.

An easy solution — if you both like the idea of wearing just one ring each — is to purchase rings for your engagement and then use those same rings again during your wedding ceremony. Now, you need to go shopping!

The best place to start in your hunt for an engagement ring is a reputable jeweler. Find one that is recommended by friends or family members, has been in business for a long time, or is a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce or your local Better Business Bureau. Before committing to a piece of jewelry, make sure you understand the store’s policies, whether it’s the way they handle layaways, returns, or issues such as “conflict diamonds” (those mined in specific African nations that fund civil wars and other atrocities against the local population).

Browsing a store’s selections (whether in person or on the internet), you’re likely to find bands designed in platinum, yellow gold or white gold, although you can also find rings that intertwine each of these metals, not to mention that there’s also rose gold, green gold, black gold and more. You’ll also need to select a finish, such as polish or matte, as well as the width of the ring. Traditionalists tend to prefer a rounded, brightly polished yellow gold band, which come in 14 karat, 18K or 24K. (The higher the karat number, the more golden your ring will appear and the more expensive it will be.) More contemporary rings have a flatter surface and squared off edges.

Narrower bands tend to look better on smaller hands, while larger or longer digits favor wider rings. Consider engraving something special inside, such as first names or initials, your engagement/wedding date, or a tiny message, such as “I love you,” or “Always yours.” (Once you’ve engraved a ring, however, it can’t be returned, so you may want to wait until your proposal has been accepted before personalizing it.)

Of course, adding diamonds or other precious stones will add significantly to the cost of your rings. If you can’t afford these gems at the start of your relationship but really like the idea of wearing them, consider upgrading your rings on an anniversary. But first you must propose! Good luck.


Steven Petrow is the go-to source on contemporary etiquette, as cited by The New York Times, People, Time, and NPR. His sometimes gentle, sometimes snarky, always insightful advice has made him a nationally recognized expert on modern manners. In addition to his three prize-winning etiquette books, Steven writes the “Civil Behavior” column for The New York Times and is a sought-after speaker on all matters of civilized living in the 21st century.