Promise ring tradition reveals insecurity; OK to just date


    You all know the movie scene. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. An unrealistically short period of time passes and boy pops the question …Will you promise me?

    Wait, that’s not right. You must have heard wrong.

    And you’d be right. You did hear wrong because I can’t think of any movie that fits the “happily ever after category” and adds the step of a promise ring.

    Even to the ridiculous people in Hollywood who come up with the cheesy, storybook romances we all know and love, a promise ring has no value. We, like they, should recognize it’s a meaningless gesture that most have rightfully left behind.

    Giving someone a promise ring is a pledge to become engaged. An engagement is a promise to be married. So, accepting a promise ring is like saying you promise to make an even bigger promise later?

    The whole thing makes my head spin.

    According to (yes, such a Web site exists), promise rings were traditionally given to signify a deeply committed relationship. They were a way to say two people were “going steady” with the intention of someday getting married.

    If you have to use the term “going steady” to describe the purpose of a promise ring, you know the tradition is dead. Even my grandmother is hip enough to know no one says that anymore.

    If you want to promise to get married, then get engaged. There’s no need for an extra step.

    And if you have to promise to know you’re in a committed relationship, then you’re relationship probably isn’t that secure in the first place.

    Granted, if you are 20 and think you’re with the person you want to marry, engagement is probably not the best idea. You’ve still got classes and homework to deal with, and you may still be relying on Mom and Dad for some support. Oh, and there is that minor detail of not being grown up enough to make this sort of commitment.

    In that case, just keep dating.

    You can be in a committed relationship without having to put a label on it, and, if in a year or five, you still want to marry that person, get engaged because then you’ll know you mean it, and you won’t have to waste money on an extra ring.

    According to and, most promise rings range in price from $120 to $350, a cost that, according to, will provide you with a titanium promise ring that says, “I love you.”

    If we believe a ring can say “I love you,” it’s no wonder that the divorce rate for first marriages in the United States is 41 percent, with the highest percent of those divorces occurring among 20- to 24-year-olds, according to

    This staggering number should, at the very least, remind us that we should seriously assess ourselves and our relationships before committing – at least in theory – for life.

    While this isn’t necessarily a growing trend, the fact that it exists at all is a disgrace to our generation.

    Of the five people I know who have been “promised” in the last few years, all have ended their relationships.

    It’s good that they ended their relationships before entering into engagement or marriage, but I’ll bet that the breakup was even more difficult because of the expectations brought into the relationship with that promise ring.

    If there’s one thing you can learn from Hollywood, (and there might only be one thing) remember that we’re in college – it’s OK just to date someone, there’s no need for the frivolous tradition of promise rings.

    Kathleen Thurber is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Colorado Springs, Colo.