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Why We Need to Stop Hating the People Getting Engaged

By this point, we’ve pretty much all experienced that moment. The one where you wake up and lazily scroll through Facebook or Instagram, not really paying attention to anything unless it’s a picture of your crush or an article about the crazy thing Kim Kardashian did last night.

Suddenly you see it from out of nowhere. It comes at you like a freight train.

Your eyes draw to the 300+ likes and the 50 comments, but you don’t even bother reading them. They’ll all just say, “OMG, Congratulations!” over and over. In the picture, your friend has a giant sparkly rock on her hand, and revulsion rolls through you. Her boyfriend, ahem, fiancé, smiles joyfully in the background. You wash your eyes with bleach, but you can’t unsee it. The curse of the Facebook engagement announcement has struck.  

 

What is it that stirs up such a fiery hatred in us as each day more and more of our friends are getting engaged? Could we chalk it up to our evolving millennial ways, personal problems with social media or even a seemingly eternal spell of singleness?

Whatever the reason may be, we need to end the hate. We twentysomethings need to put on our big girl pants, and encourage and love one another, because our engagement bitterness is hurtful. After interviewing some recently engaged women, we found that our reactions tend to weigh heavier on a person than we might realize.

It’s hurtful to the person who’s engaged.

Getting engaged is huge step in a woman’s life, and one that definitely calls for celebration, not for negativity. Try putting yourself in her shoes, and imagine what it would feel like to have your friends act hurtfully towards you, when all you want to do is share your happiness with them.

Ashley Lekerk, a recently graduated and newly engaged woman from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, shares what it’s like to be on the opposite end of our engagement reactions. “Honestly, after I told everyone about my engagement, some of the comments from even my closest friends were surprising,” Ashley says. “While my family was very happy, the comments from my friends on Facebook and Instagram were to the point of almost being hostile. One of my best friends from high school only left a ‘How wonderful.’ A girl from my Bible study wrote ‘I can’t believe it.’ Not even an exclamation point, just really aggressive periods!”

Oftentimes when we are behaving negatively towards another person, we may not even realize it. It could be completely unintentional, but it’s still happening. To fix this, we need to adopt a mindset of empathy and self-awareness in order to understand how the situation looks from a perspective that’s not ours, and to diagnose why we are behaving so badly in the first place.

Related: Five Things You Should Never Say to Your SO if You Want Things to Last

It makes them feel isolated and alone.

Being happy by yourself isn’t fun as being happy with others. Plus, marriage involves so many other people than just the partners getting married. It’s a process that means the coming together of families and friends from the past, present, college, all 50 states, etc. However, if the friends and family aren’t really part of it, it takes away the important sense of community that a bride needs during this time.

Another newly engaged collegiette, Katie Gross, a senior at the University of Miami, talks about what it’s like to feel isolated because of an engagement. “My friends didn’t say it directly, but I know it affected them negatively. I’ve always viewed marriage proposals as something fun everyone gets to participate in. That’s just not the reality of it. When it happens, you’re booted off the island.”

To offer a countering view, Morgan Landry, a senior at Boston College says, “Girlfriends put distance between each other when one of them is in a relationship. Part of it is because we can’t handle losing a friend, and it’s like a defense mechanism, and engagement is like that but worse because it means you get less of your friend forever.”

We’ve definitely been there! Sharing your bestie with their SO is super hard, and sometimes terribly painful. The thing is that inherently, engagement doesn’t mean losing a friend forever, and putting distance between you and that person out of fear isn’t fair. It’s time to calm the jealously and let your friend move on with part of her life, while you move on with yours. Try to reverse the situation, and imagine how you would like to be treated if you were the one engaged.

Your resentment and jealousy aren’t valid excuses.

It’s rare that in our mindless, bloodthirsty rage toward romance we actually even notice the person behind the engagement post. We scoff at friends and make them an enemy, but why?

“It’s not that I’m jealous, but there’s definitely some resentment,” says Alaina, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s really hard to watch people get engaged at the end of college–whether you’re single or not. When I hear that someone I know got engaged, my reaction isn’t always pleasant, and I know it, but I think it’s a testament that I have some stuff to work through.”

Being products of our society, millennials really do have some stuff to work through when it comes to marriage. Socio-economic in nature, numerous studies declare marriage has been steadily on the decline for women since the 1970s, making it a bit more difficult to watch our peers enter into such a unique lifestyle that very few people in their early 20s will get the chance to experience. For some of us, engagement may not be relevant until much later in our lives, yet in the deepest part of our hearts, we can’t deny that having someone to love would be freaking awesome.

What it comes down to is ultimately taking our selfishness out of the situation, because let’s be real–their engagement isn’t about us.

They’re using social media to share their excitement, which is perfectly fine.

It’s important to keep in mind that those social media announcements popping up on our newsfeeds aren’t as insincere as we think. We live in an age where the internet reigns supreme! It’s only natural to share joy via the site that can reach the most friends and family at once.

Meghan Tenge, a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara, offers another viewpoint of why engagements are so hard to deal with. “My issue is less with people getting engaged, and more with being hit with their engagement spam whenever I go on Facebook,” she says. “Yes, I’m happy for you. No, I don’t want to see you kissing for the eight months leading up to your precious day.”

Thus arises the problem many women seem to have. “Promoting a relationship via media can come off as obnoxious, and that’s something I’ve gathered from many of the people that I’ve talked to,” says Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist. “But here’s the thing: it’s quick, it gets information spread like no other. So for a lot of women who would be excited to share this news, posting on Facebook makes sense. By now it might even be subconscious.”

Imagine that engagement announcements were still sent through the Pony Express–if that were the case, we probably wouldn’t be so uppity about this whole situation.

The real issue is our own mindset.

At its core, this issue is not about social media and it’s not about a millennial statistic. The issue is that we as collegiette women are not supporting our fellow collegiette women. We take their happiness and manipulate it to voice our own pain and complaint. Marriage becomes a mechanism to reverse the spotlight so that we can talk about our own cat-ladyness and chocolate bingeing instead of uplifting each other. Being grumpy about a friend’s engagement is selfish, and that needs to change.

Recently engaged blogger, Sara Clemence, appropriately named the term “engagement rage.” She says, “I was nervous to announce my boyfriend’s proposal, because I know what it looks like from the reverse end. I was worried that it would make my friend’s feel bad about their own lives, even if they have absolutely no reason to feel bad at all.”

Sometimes we can’t help but compare ourselves to other women when they’re experiencing a lot of success and joy. This basically results in friendship PMS toward the people we should love the most, as well as a lot of negative feelings towards our own lives and accomplishments. It’s not fun, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
 

Practice mindfulness the next time you see that dreaded “He Proposed…I Said Yes!” photo. Say congratulations and mean it.  From the mouths of women should come words of love, support and encouragement.

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