As Jezebel asks, who let "engagement season" become a thing?
Having worked in retail jewelry primarily over the holidays in high school, I can tell you that it's not a new phenomenon. However, it's turned into a huge marketing tool and ginormous peer pressure. After all, who wants to be that girl who didn't get a ring for Christmas? Who wants to be that guy who didn't put a ring on it?
Wait a hot second here, girls; getting a ring isn't a guarantee. I'm a veteran of the wars- two rings to my credit and no marriages to follow- and until such moment as you're standing in front of an officiant saying, "I do," it's not cast in stone. It's just an outward sign that you're off the dating market, although I'll warn you: some men are not necessarily going to honor your bling as a sign to stay away.
There's just too much pressure. What ever happened to going out and cutting your own swath through life before hanging it up to get married and start a family? Why do we still set so much store by the act of getting married, when the divorce rate exceeds 50% and there's also such a thing as "starter marriages"? I'm not knocking the institution of marriage...in fact, I think it still has valid place in society. It's just that I don't think anyone should be in an all-fired hurry to do it, just to say that they have.
I have classmates and friends who've been married two to five times. It sort of hurts when I'm in a bleak mood and think, "Wait, they've had how many spouses, and here I sit, an old maid?" Then I force myself to remember that my first fiance' wanted me to quit college to have babies and worship at his feet (he eventually found a much younger girl to marry who did, and more power to him) and the second was a chronic cheater (who ironically, after rushing to the altar with a woman he'd known two months, ended up divorcing less than a year later). The rings I was given didn't mean anything...and I wonder, too, did I look that much more pathetic in the case of my second engagement for wearing that ring for years when it never yielded marriage in the end?
Most of the time I don't worry about it. The Engaged or Smug Marrieds (to borrow from Bridget Jones) can feel sorry for me or gloat or whatever. I'll just buy those shoes and not have to argue with somebody for an hour that I don't need more shoes, or pick out a movie that I want to watch without conceding to one I don't in order to keep the peace. I stopped believing in magic and fairytales and mistletoe a long time ago in favor of being myself.