A Decent ProposalJust about every chick has a dream or two about exactly how her guy might propose â€” on bended knee? on Valentine's Day? on a billboard in Times Square? But lately, some women seem more concerned with what's inside that little velvet-covered box than with how much they adore the guy who's holding it. "It's not that women are necessarily getting bigger rings," says New York City-based psychotherapist Debbie Magids, PhD, author of All the Good Ones Aren't Taken. "It's just that they're talking about it more openly now â€” and guys can't help but notice."So just how big is the average engagement ring, anyway? According to the Jewelry Information Center, a nonprofit that monitors the jewelry industry, it's just under half a carat, a far cry from BeyoncÃ©'s blingtastic 18-carat stunner. And the average bucks expected to be spent nationwide in 2008 on that average ring: $4,332, according to Theweddingreport.com.
A Case of Massive Versus Modest"Rightly or not, women have always seen ring quality and size as measures of their man's success and his devotion to them," says George Weinberg, PhD, author of Why Men Won't Commit. Not only that, but they're also an outward status symbol and source of competitiveness among women. "It makes many women feel more desirable and secure if they have a bigger ring than their friends," Weinberg says. But don't be fooled that it means anything explicit about your guy's heart or fidelity; experts agree there's no correlation between carats and commitment. Obsessing over size may also say something about your confidence, according to Magids: "The bigger it needs to be for you, the lower your self-esteem is. People who are happiest with themselves and their relationship aren't desperate for a showy ring."
From a Man's PerspectiveWhatever the size, diamonds still rank as many girls' best friend â€” but they can also be a guy's worst enemy. "When the average man hears about huge rings, he worries that his girlfriend is going to have the same expectations, and that he's not going to be able to meet her standard," says Scott Haltzman, PhD, author of Secrets of Married Men. Rings have historically been a symbol of a man's ability to provide for a woman during the course of their marriage â€” and today, a guy is painfully aware that his fiancÃ©e will be dangling her sparkler in front of friends and family members. He wants to flaunt his financial creds, and often the rule that a guy should spend about two to three months' salary on the purchase goes right out the window, with some guys ending up in debt. The engagement effort (w)rings him dry â€” literally.
Rules of EngagementWhen your guy does pop the question, it's important to recognize that he's at least somewhat threatened by your expectations. "Guys fantasize about making their fiancÃ©e-to-be very happy," Haltzman says. "To him, it's your reaction that's truly priceless." The message: Be gracious â€” or you'll regret it later. If your boyfriend is a frugal, rainy-day type of saver, don't expect him to splurge on a major stunner. Overall, focus more on the quality of your relationship, and your future together, than on evoking envy in others â€” it's a much longer-lasting thrill.
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