3 Tips for Handling a Proposal Rejection

What should you do when you pop the big question and the person says "No?" Modern Manners Guy offers 3 tips - and a reality check.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #319

A good friend of mine recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend. Before he did it, I got the scoop on how he planned to pop the big question, and even got a look at the beautiful ring he'd purchased. But as we spoke, one important question came up: “Oh man, what if she says ‘no’?”.

For many people, proposing is among the biggest decisions they'll ever make - and a question they only want to ask once. But just because you've got a fancy surprise planned and have the shiny ring in hand, does not mean everything will go your way.

So what happens if the answer is "no?" Check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips on how to handle a marriage proposal rejection:

Tip #1: Don’t Ask “Why?”

Many movies feature a heartbroken romantic sobbing uncontrollably, shouting, "Why?... WHY?... WHY!?!?!" into the air as they search for answers about being dumped. However, even though the “Why Factor” will surely dominate every thought you have for weeks (if not months) afterwards, asking “Why?” at the time of rejection is never going to make things better.

In fact, I’m pretty sure finding out why someone doesn’t want to be with you just makes things worse. It’s like saying, “Thanks for kicking me in the crotch...and oh yeah, while I shake on the ground in a fetal position, will you please continue to kick me?” Some things are not always proper to ask after being rejected, even when that question is burning inside of you (or is that the kick to the crotch you're feeling?).

Is the person going to have a sudden change of heart after having just run down the list of reasons you are not suitable? Not likely.

There are two main reasons why I don’t recommend asking “Why?” after being rejected. For starters, it makes you look needy and somewhat pathetic. I mean, what is asking "Why" really going to solve? Is the person going to all of a sudden have a change of heart after having just run down the lists of reasons you are not suitable? As in, “Wait, forget all the bad things I just said. Let’s see that ring again.” This probably won't happen.

Secondly, it just prolongs the inevitable. The person has already made up their mind, so why do you insist on keeping them around, having them take pity on you for another half hour? Again, that mindset will just make things even more embarrassing for you.

However, if you truly must know why, then after you part ways, simply follow up with an email. Something like, “Even though I respect your decision, and wish you all the best, I am just curious as to why you feel that we are not right for one another?” And whatever you do, do not go back and forth debating the issue. Just use it for your own knowledge.