You’ve spent time contemplating a long-term commitment to your partner, and are convinced that you want to spend your life with her – so you plan your proposal.
The big day comes; you nervously go down on one knee and pop the question. You wait for her response, yet she can’t seem to find the right word. When she finally does – it’s “no”. At this point, is it possible to salvage your relationship and if it is, how?
Counselling psychologist Andreas Banetsi says this can be a turning point in a relationship, and how you respond to it is of utmost importance.
“The reasons people turn down proposals are varied; that’s why it’s important for you to find out why your proposal was rejected – this is the first step,” says Banetsi. “Only once this conversation has been had openly and honestly, should you try to understand where the other person is coming from.”
Banetsi says you should be open to self-reflection, especially when you and your partner are having the discussion, because they could have recognised something that you might not have seen in yourself, which could affect your compatibility as a couple in the long run.
Banetsi points out that rejecting something that should be joyous is an indication that there’s a deeper issue at play.
“When you’re probing for the reasons, don’t approach it with an attitude of ‘you owe me this explanation now’. You partner might not tell you right there and then; they might want a bit of space to deal with the shock of the proposal. You need to be sensitive to this.”
When the time eventually comes, and you and your partner have an opportunity to sit down and talk, you might find common ground and understanding. Banetsi says that through this process, it’s important for each of you to be patient with each other and be willing to work through the issues at hand to save the relationship.
READ MORE: Are you ready to get down on one knee?
Yet despite your attempts to approach the situation more sensitively, Banetsi says that this conversation could bring up intentions that weren’t communicated at the beginning of the relationship, which may indicate that perhaps it’s time to separate.
Each person enters into a relationship with their own goals for the future. One person may have begun the relationship simply for companionship, while the other formed it to commit and build a future and family together.
Banetsi says it’s important to communicate your intentions at the beginning of a relationship. If this doesn’t happen it could be the very reason for someone rejecting a marriage proposal.
“When you’ve discussed the rejection and the reasons, and you discover that the vision for your lives together isn’t aligned, this is a significant sign that the relationship should perhaps end,” Banetsi says.