What Is Promise Ring Etiquette?

In the 13th-16th centuries, men gave their love interests posy rings as a token of their love. These rings, derived from the French word “poesie” meaning poem, had inscriptions of romantic declarations, such as “love conquers all things” or “till death do us part.

Posy rings have evolved to what we now recognize as promise rings. Though not a marriage proposal, a promise ring is a heartfelt symbol of love and commitment. If you’re thinking about giving your special someone that sweet promise of a life together, this guide on promise rings is a good place to start:

What are the possible reasons to give someone a promise ring?

You have to live apart.

Distance (or lack thereof) can be a make-or-break factor in any relationship. If you and your partner are forced to live in different cities or countries, either for studies or work, promise rings can symbolize the strength of your commitment despite the lack of proximity and physical contact.

The relationship is new.

You and your partner are sure you want to commit to each other, but you feel that it’s too soon to think about engagement, not to mention marriage. A promise ring is a good stand-in to convey someone’s emotional readiness and their willingness to wait it out.

You and your partner are too young.

It’s never too late to get married, but it can be too early. If you are both under 18 or simply feel like you’re not old enough or financially ready for marriage, a promise ring means you’re still serious about ending up together despite the unfavorable circumstances.

You can’t afford an engagement ring.

Engagement rings can cost a fortune. And most people don’t want to settle for lower-range alternatives. Someday, you will be able to afford your dream engagement ring but for now, a promise ring is as good as any expression of commitment.

How should you give your promise ring?

smiling woman holding a jewelry gift box

Be certain of your decision.

Ask yourself a hundred times whether you’re ready to take the step. Although it’s not for marriage (yet), it’s still a symbol of lifelong commitment. Don’t offer it lightly.

Make sure your partner knows it’s not a proposal.

State explicitly to your significant other that it’s an engagement ring and you’re not proposing. You might be 100% aware of your intentions, but they might not be.

Don’t go down on one knee.

Some people make this mistake all the time. Again, you’re giving a promise ring, not an engagement ring. Just present the ring box and wait for them to open it to save yourselves from the awkward conversation you would otherwise have.

How do you wear a promise ring?

As a couple, you can decide whether you want to wear the promise ring occasionally or all the time. It can be worn on any finger, but you might want to have it anywhere but the traditional ring finger so it’s not mistaken for an engagement ring.

If you are getting the promise ring in lieu of an actual engagement ring, it’s okay to wear it on your ring finger. You can also wear it on a chain around your neck.

Now you know the promise ring etiquette, the next step is finding the perfect ring. The internet is at your disposal. Good luck!

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