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What Happens When You Propose to Your Partner, But They Say No?

The men of Reddit share their (surprisingly optimistic) tales of life after rejection

So you planned the ultimate proposal. You rented out the best restaurant in town, enlisted a string quartet and secretly invited friends and family to document the occasion with their iPhones. You reach for the engagement ring — which basically eliminated your life savings — you get down on one knee and you pop the question: “Will you marry me?”

*brief moment of silence*

“Hell no!”


But what happens next? Life apparently moves on — at least, that seems to be the main takeaway from this Reddit thread that asks men what happened after their partner denied their proposal attempt. And if you can’t spend your entire day scrolling through nearly 2,000 comments (and counting), you don’t have to miss out: We’ve rounded up some of the most insightful Life After Rejection stories from the thread below (sic, obviously, throughout).

This Guy Got a New Girlfriend (Who Hopefully Won’t Reveal That She’s Been Cheating on Him When He Proposes to Her)

“I’m not a man, but this happened to a male friend of mine,” commenter balloonits explains. “They had been dating for four years, living together for two, and had talked about their future lives together and how they wanted to get married one day and have kids. They had both settled into great jobs, and their lives seemed perfectly on track, so he figured now was the right time. He spoke to me about how he was going to do it: She didn’t want a public proposal or a big romantic gesture.

“He proposed on a Saturday morning after making her breakfast in bed ‘just because I love you’ with a beautiful ring. She burst into tears. I remember him saying that he thought they were happy tears, and that she was just struggling to get the ‘yes’ out. But she kept crying until he had to put the ring down, get up and hold her to find out what was going on.

“She’d been cheating on him for a year. She swore she broke it off and was going to pretend it never happened and live happily ever after, but seeing his ‘hopeful face’ at that moment just ‘broke’ her, and she couldn’t do it.

“He left her. She was pretty depressed for a while and lost a lot of her friend group (most of us were friends with him first, and she just kind of joined in, so she wasn’t invited anywhere anymore, and I had no interest in seeing her again). It was three years ago, and I think she’s engaged to someone else now. I’m not sure if it’s the guy she was cheating with. My friend’s doing all right, though: He has a steady girlfriend, but he’s a lot more reserved about it now.”

This Guy Decided That Marriage Sucks Anyway (And Still Lived Happily Ever After — Maybe Even More Happily)

“My significant other said no to me,” commenter jloy88 explains. “She said marriage is an archaic institution, and that she sees no reason why, if we want to stay together forever, we can’t do it without a contract. That was in 2009. Now, we have three kids and a house together, and we both wear wedding rings. We never got married.”

This Guy Argued His Case for Three Hours (And It Worked)

“I’m not a man, but my husband is,” commenter AlrightDoc writes. “He was 19, and I was 22. He was a marine who just got back from his first deployment, and we had just had our closest friends get engaged the week before. He bought me a ring. He wasn’t secretive about it at all, and tried to get me to go to a nice restaurant that we both liked. I told him, ‘I don’t want to go,’ because I knew he was going to try to propose. We got into a bit of an argument, because I refused to go to the place where he wanted to propose to me. He plopped the ring down and said, ‘Well, here.’

“I circuitously said that I didn’t think we should get married, because we were too young. We’d only been dating for a year and a half, and our friends just got married: He just got back from deployment, and the excitement of it probably got to him. These were all good reasons why I thought he was rushing into asking me. He proceeds to make a good argument for three hours. He convinced me.

“Ten years of marriage later, as a general guideline, I still think we were too young. But I’m glad that I listened.”

This Guy Got Sober (And Then She Said Yes)

“When my dad proposed to my mom, she said no,” commenter irein_p explains.
“The way I remember the story is that she told him he needed to sober up and drove away, leaving him sitting on a curb. He got sober and re-proposed one year later. My dad’s been sober for 34 years now, and they’ve been married for 33. Sometimes things work out.”

This Guy Proposed Every Year (And Still Does)

“This is about my step father,” commenter fajitafridays writes. “He has proposed to my mother every year since about 1998. She says no every time. She was married before (to my father) and just doesn’t feel the need to be married after that. Her view is, ‘I’ve done that, and I don’t need to do it again.’ It’s kind of a running joke now, but he keeps asking. He says he knows he’ll get a no, and they don’t care if they’re married or not. They’re committed to each other. He keeps doing it because it’s his way of reminding her he will always want to spend the rest of his life with her, and because it makes her laugh. They’ve been together for 22 years, and they’re happier than ever.”

This Guy Went to Couples Counseling With His Partner (And Then She Proposed to Him)

“I had been in a relationship with my girlfriend for just over seven years when I proposed,” commenter PhilipJosephBlunt83 writes. “We had been through a fairly rough patch where things were touch and go. We argued a lot, and there were other issues that we allowed to continue unresolved and/or unaddressed. Most of it was caused by not communicating effectively with one another.

“Another source of friction was that I was in a touring band, and a lot of my time outside of my day job was dedicated to my band. I was working full time and also playing two or three shows a week minimum (usually out of town). Vacations were used to go on tour. At the same time, she was working a job that she didn’t enjoy that forced her to work long hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily). My band reached its breaking point, and we decided to call it. I was rocked a little, but I was also overcome with a sense of relief. I could now dedicate so much more time to my relationship and start doing things that I was previously unable to do (travelling was a big passion of ours, but prior to the band splitting, all of my vacation time was dedicated to tours). I thought then was a great opportunity to ask her to marry me.

“In retrospect, I can now see that it seemed desperate and forced as a result of the band breakup, or maybe she thought that I was searching for something to stabilize my life. The truth is that I was truly relieved and excited that I could really dedicate time to my significant other. Well… she said no! The sentiment of my proposal was terrible, and the timing was stupid. I just thought I would jump right in and ignore that we’d been in choppy waters in our relationship for two years (or more).

“There was a silver lining, though: I knew she loved me, and I understood her concerns. I dedicated myself to improving our relationship, anyway (as did she). We went to couples counseling (at her behest) and learned to communicate effectively with each other. I learned the difference between the intent of my statements and how they can be perceived. We traveled and learned that we are amazing travel partners. We’re both adventurous and really enjoy immersing ourselves in the culture and food wherever we go. About two and a half years later, I came home on Valentine’s Day (which we never celebrate at all) to an apartment full of candles and flowers, a charcuterie board and champagne. She asked me if I would marry her. I said yes. We’re three years married now and on our eleventh year together. Yay us!”

This Guy Asked Again… Once They Were Done Having Sex (And 17 Times After That, He Finally Go the Answer He Was Looking For)

“I asked my wife mid-coitus,” commenter TheRealJackReynolds writes. “She looked at me and laughed, which stung. But when she realized I was serious, she said no. She said she was scared that we’d get married and she’d lose me right after. It took about 18 more times tries before she said yes.”

This Guy Played the Health Insurance Card (And For His Well-Being, She Relented)

“I asked her to marry me, and she said no,” commenter Kevin_Scharp explains. “She didn’t want to support the institution of marriage. I said that I didn’t either, but that I needed health insurance. She said fine, and we’ve been together for sixteen years with three kids now.”

This Guy Fell in Love with Reddit Instead (And It Has Yet to Reject Him)

“She said no, and now I spend my time on Reddit,” commenter CyanidePwN writes.