My Relationship Expectations Almost Ruined My Man's Proposal

Love & Relationships

For my 28th birthday, my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Catalina Island.

We went parasailing, rock climbing, had a couple's massage, and drinks before heading back to our hotel, a cozy B&B-styled inn - very different from any hotel we had ever visited. It was absolutely perfect. I had been secretly hoping he would propose to me and my birthday felt like the perfect occasion for him to do so. After years of dating, and more recently my engagement questioning being following with a mere "soon" from him, I was anxious for him to pop the question.

I was more than ready to finally start planning happily ever after with the man of my dreams.

We talked about marriage often but until a ring was on my finger I felt as though it was merely that, just talk. I was becoming frustrated with simply being a "girlfriend" and couldn't understand why he hadn't yet asked me to marry him. Sure, finances weren't exactly perfect, but if we could make things work living together, we could also find a way to do so as a married couple.

By the time dinner came around, I simply could not sit still. Seated at a table with a gorgeous view of the outside, I imagined a band coming up and singing as he got down on one knee, or possibly the other diners applauding and taking pictures as he proposed. The possibilities of our dinner being "the moment", had me jittery with anticipation for what he would surely ask me. But, when dessert came and no proposal had happened, I desperately tried to disguise the look of utter disappointment on my face. "You ready to go?" he asked after we had both had a few bites of the ice cream and chocolate dessert the restaurant gifted me.

"Sure," was the only response I could muster.

When we got back to the hotel, I threw on sweats and a sweatshirt he had purchased for my birthday and laid across the bed. Scrolling aimlessly through my phone, I did anything to avoid facing him. I was hurt. In all fairness, the day had gone perfectly. He purchased me a few gifts that I loved on top of all of the fun things we did together, but I didn't get the one thing I truly wanted: an engagement ring.

Admittedly, I'm the type of person that always wants to be in control of things. Hell, if I go out, I always try to be the one who drives so I have control of when I leave - and that's one example of my need for control. I like things done a certain way so I always end up doing everything myself. When it comes to my relationship though, I felt powerless in not being able to decide when I got engaged. The lack of control was driving me insane.

When I finally realized nothing else was going to happen and I wouldn't receive the proposal of my dreams, I got underneath the covers and started dozing off to prevent my frustration from causing me to say something to him that I didn't mean. "Are you going to sleep?" he asked.

"I started dozing off," I admitted.

"Well, you can't go to sleep this early on your birthday, it isn't even 10 o'clock. Lets go for a walk or something, I'm not tired."

"Fine we can do that," I slipped on some sandals and sneaked a peak at him. Realizing he hadn't grabbed for anything out of his bag or changed out of his suit from dinner, I started to come to terms that it simply was not going to happen.

We walked aimlessly around the island talking and taking in the views. I mostly listened until we reached a spot by the rocks where the moon perfectly shone down on the water as the waves crashed against the rocks. "I probably could have bought you that bag you wanted, you know if we didn't do all this," he said.

I could hear the negative self-talk in the back of my head:Well, then you could have also bought a ring. I stopped myself from saying it aloud. "When we get back I really want to work on being a better boyfriend." Boyfriend? Not fiancé? Not husband? I stopped myself again. It took everything in my power not to blurt out, "Okay, so why didn't you propose?" I knew that he had worked hard on planning my birthday and that he had sacrificed a lot financially to ensure I had an amazing day so I bit my tongue with my disappointments.

"So you ready to head back?" he asked.

"Yea," was my only response.

"Oh yea I forgot I have one more gift for you."

The moonlight revealed a cunning smile on his face. It was in that moment that I knew he was about to propose. "I want to give you my heart, and my last name, and make you my wife."

He slowly got on one knee and revealed the ring that had been in his pocket the entire time. A meticulously placed light shone directly on the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen. "Ashley, will you marry me?" he asked.

"You tricked me! Yes, Yes, I love you," I cried as I became swept up into the hug he gave me.

The walk back was full of laughter as he revealed to me the joy he had watching me squirm knowing what he planned, the conversation he had on the phone with my parents the day before when he asked my dad for my hand in marriage, and how he wanted us to tell his mother about the engagement together in person.

After his proposal, I realized a few things.

If he proposed to me at the restaurant, it wouldn't have been the same. I would have been expecting it and who honestly wants to be able to pinpoint the exact time of their engagement?

I also realized the importance of allowing things to happen in their own timing. While I do like being in control as often as possible, some things are simply more beautiful when you allow them to just happen organically. Over the years I had imagined his proposal going a million different ways, but nothing was more beautiful to me than exactly how it happened: me wearing sweats, him dressed to the nines, and us overlooking the waves crashing down on the rocks.

I look forward to spending the rest of my life with my soon to be husband and take his proposal as a valuable lesson to learn to allow life to take its course. When you stop trying to dictate how everything in your life should go, some truly amazing things will happen along the way.

What was your proposal like? If you're still a single lady, what's your dream proposal like? Let us know in the comments below!

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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