A friend of mine recently dealt with a public proposal in front of her family and
his family. BG: My friend, Shelley, is fantastic. But for some reason, she's never met a true nice guy, just a bunch of jerks posing as nice guys. I honestly, don't think she minds being single. But her mother is frantically, hysterically fixated on the idea that Shelley will never get married. So when Shelley is single, her mother hassles her non-stop about getting out there, having standards that are too high and dressing up even when she's just going to the grocery because she never knows who she could run into. When Shelley is dating
someone, her mother is even MORE frantic about making sure Shelley stays in the relationship
because this could be Shelley's last chance at getting married. No matter what sort of crap the boyfriend pulls, Shelley is told to forgive and forget and stop being such a nag.
So Shelley has stayed with a series of guys who are not good enough for her. The latest, Darryl, has been the worst of all. Readers of Captain Awkward may be familiar with the term "Darth Vader Boyfriend." This was so him, it wasn't even funny. (Link here, warning some foul language: http://captainawkward.com/category/darth-vader-boyfriend/
) He is lazy, selfish, talked down to Shelley as if she should feel fortunate to be with him. And he's a reality bender. Anything negative that Shelley perceived was chalked up to her being too sensitive, misunderstanding, looking for problems, or being a B----. That was his coup de grace - "You're just being a b----." And it would make Shelley feel so bad that she would drop the argument.
Our friends talked to her about this guy consistently. We pointed out the various weak spots in the relationship
(talking down to her, Darth Vadering her) and encouraged her to leave before it was too late. (He is not working and had started talking about them moving in together and having a kid right away so he could be a stay-at-home dad. Translation: Shelley will support him.) I think the baby talk scared her pretty badly and she started withdrawing from the relationship
. Darryl sensed her pulling away, he really start cranking up the "charm." Flowers for no reason, showing up at work to take her lunch (which she paid for) and calling a lot more often. All the while she was trying to find a way to break up with him.
He insisted on throwing a big party at his parents' house for her birthday, inviting her parents, both sets of siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. He invited his friends, but not hers, because he knows we don't like him. In the middle of the party, he proposes in front of everybody. Shelley's mom was overjoyed and cried out, "YES!!". But Shelley said no. She said that when she thought about being married to Darryl, her entire body went ice cold and she felt like throwing up. She asked to speak to him privately. He refused and said, "How can you say no to me in front of my whole family and yours? Your mom wants you to say yes! And I just threw you a party!"
ETA: Forgot to add that when Darryl and Shelley finally moved their conversation to a private place, Darryl told her "You're just being a B----!" Yeah, buddy, that's an awesome way to convince her to marry you.
So his motivations for a public proposal are pretty clear. He didn't want her to get away from him, so he tried to trap her. He thought she'd be too intimidated to say no in front of their families, particularly her mom. Shelley's not dating
Darryl any more. He's playing the wounded baby deer. And Shelley's mom is furious with her.
But Shelley's happier than I've seen her in years.