How to reject a marriage proposal: 12 steps

Table of contents:

How to reject a marriage proposal: 12 steps
How to reject a marriage proposal: 12 steps

In fairy tales, the only response to a marriage proposal always seems to be "Yes! Of course I do!" However, in some cases, marriage is not a good option. There are many valid reasons to reject a proposal, such as the uncertainty that you are a solid partner, not knowing each other well enough, wondering if the person who is proposing really wants you, or if the moment is right. When making a life decision, never say "yes" when you should say "no." An honest answer allows both of you to make the best decision regarding the future.


Method 1 of 2: Evade a Future Proposal

Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 1
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 1

Step 1. Explain clearly why you don't want to get married

There is nothing wrong with having a "feeling" that the marriage will not be successful and acting on that feeling. However, it is important that you be honest with yourself about your concerns. If you're just feeling nervous about making such an important commitment (which is not uncommon), read the tips in the article "How to overcome the fear of marriage." If you are concerned that you and your partner are not compatible in some respect, it is important that you address your concerns as soon as you can, long before your partner makes the proposal. Think about these aspects of the relationship ahead of time to prepare yourself for a serious conversation:

  • Do you feel that the relationship is serious and permanent, or more casual or temporary? If the other person takes the relationship much more seriously than you, it may be difficult for you to find a way together.
  • Is it a time in your life when marriage could derail the path you've set for yourself? Can you imagine marrying your partner in the future?
  • Do you have strong opinions regarding marriage in general? Would you prefer to live together without getting married, or to live apart, even if they have a committed and affectionate relationship?
  • Are you concerned about your partner's judgment about having children, caring for the home, financial habits, career goals, or other "big picture" issues that could make marriage or living together difficult?
  • Do you have another concern regarding your partner or relationship that is relevant when deciding whether or not you want to get married? It is important that you talk about it as soon as possible, even if the marriage is still out of the question.
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 2
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 2

Step 2. Don't give wrong clues

In an ideal world, it would be possible to talk about marriage without playing guessing games. However, since emotions are involved, people generally try to test the waters before making the proposal, whether through jokes, undercover comments, or other more subtle "clues." If your partner does broach the subject of marriage, even casually, express your point of view in a courteous but polite way, or ask them to be clearer.

  • For example, if you are looking for a new house and your partner says, "This house would be perfect for a married couple," respond with another option such as "And also for an unmarried couple."
  • Perhaps you can be more direct by responding to something like, "Honey, you make comments related to married couples and that. Are you trying to tell me something? I prefer you to be direct, rather than making confusing comments."
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 3
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 3

Step 3. Address the issue before the proposal

Asking someone for a hand carries great emotional weight. This can happen in public, such as in a restaurant, an athletic stadium, Christmas dinner, or in a much more elaborate way. Rejecting a marriage proposal after such preparation can be very humiliating. If the clues multiply or you find a hidden ring somewhere, have a serious conversation with your partner before the marriage proposal.

  • The purpose of this conversation is to exchange information. Both of you should understand what the other is thinking, not try to make the other person change their mind.
  • If your partner can't put the issue aside or they can't come to terms with a short-term solution, they can make an appointment with a counselor or therapist for advice. Another option is for them to go their separate ways.
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 4
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 4

Step 4. Take the pressure off the rest of the people

At times, you may feel like your parents, friends, and even complete strangers are willing to hand you a marriage license and a bouquet of flowers on the spot. Ultimately, your decision is none of their concern, and you owe nothing to anyone other than education in deflecting these questions or suggestions:

  • A simple and polite response such as "We have no plans at this time" is a good start. You can also reply "I'll let you know if something changes."
  • Humor can help release tension between close family and friends who are constantly pressuring you. For example, you can say, "I've heard they are inventing a new color for wedding dresses, so I'll wait a few years for it to hit the market."
  • Be serious if strangers or acquaintances don't understand your subtle comments. For example, you can say "Our relationship is fine like this. Thank you for your concern."
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 5
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 5

Step 5. Evaluate the future

If you and your partner have had a conversation (perhaps with the help of a therapist), you will have bought some time. This is exactly what you need, but it is important that you use it wisely. If you want to reassess the possibility of marriage at the end of your studies, you may be content to see what happens. If it is the relationship itself that makes you doubt, carefully evaluate if you want to continue with your partner, continue talking with her and seek help through a couples therapist, if necessary, or through a friend who does not like you. Judge, have a healthy relationship, and keep your secret.

  • If certain life events pressure you to get married, plan ahead. Certain things (such as pregnancy) can be avoided, while there are others that you cannot control (such as terminal illnesses in the family). Seeking advice and support is very important in these situations where you may feel pressured to make a decision in a stressful context.

    • Do not make decisions for another family member. Yes, maybe your grandmother would like to see you get married before she dies. However, she won't have to live with the consequences of marrying the wrong person, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons. Imagine how bad he would feel if he knew that the reason for your (possible) divorce was his pressure to get you married.
    • An extramarital or accidental pregnancy can be troublesome, but marrying for the baby also often ends badly.

Method 2 of 2: Reject a Proposal

Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 6
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 6

Step 1. Don't send the wrong signals through your body language

Don't smile during the proposal, or at least don't express excitement and joy. If your partner has gone far and has asked you the big question, they will assume that your answer will be yes, and your smile will only confirm their hopes, so the impact of rejection will be greater. Look into her eyes tenderly, put your hands on her hands, and respond gently.

Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 7
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 7

Step 2. Deal with a public proposal

If your partner makes the proposal in public, ask them to stand up (if necessary) and hug them. This is a way of acknowledging that your gesture has touched you without having to say yes. Hopefully, it will be enough to cause anyone observing the situation to lose interest and return to their activities. In this way, you will alleviate any discomfort that your partner may feel.

  • If people keep looking, take your partner by the hand and quietly ask them to go to a more private place.
  • Never accept the proposal to escape the situation and be able to give your real answer later. This will only make the rejection more painful.
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 8
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 8

Step 3. Adopt a positive but sincere attitude

You are supposed to be attracted to the person making the proposal. If your ex from three years ago suddenly shows up with a ring, all the advice you'll need is "Turn down the proposal and walk away." However, if the person has reason to be hopeful, it is best to respond gently and clearly. You can remind her how much you appreciate her, but be brief so you can express your response:

  • "Your proposal moves me. I need time to think. It's not something I feel like I can answer right away. It's a surprise to me. Would you mind if I took time to think better of it?"
  • "Thank you. That was wonderful, but there are so many questions I haven't asked you yet that I'm not sure we'll be compatible in the future. Maybe it's a good time for us to sit down and talk about what it would be like to spend the rest of this time. life together ".
  • "I love you and appreciate your proposal, but I don't plan on getting married (for a while or ever). Why not move in together?"
  • "It is an honor that you are proposing to me. You are very kind and loving. I wish it were different, but I don't think it is convenient for us to get married. I have to say no."
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 9
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 9

Step 4. Respond to their sadness and confusion

The person making the proposal has likely gone to great lengths to ask the big question and has reflected on the deep reasons why they want to spend the rest of their life with you. It won't be easy to gently disappoint her, but certain things can help you through the process:

  • Try giving yourself space if either of you is angry or too upset to talk. Tell your partner that you will communicate soon (preferably the same day or the next morning), but give him time to think.
  • Suggest that they do something that the two of you enjoy. If your partner needs affection, spend the rest of the day together doing something to keep you busy. This will serve as a distraction and help her feel like you care.
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 10
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 10

Step 5. Explain your feelings

In private, and once neither is upset with the other, explain the situation in detail. Make it clear that the relationship is still very important to you. Describe exactly the reasons why you still feel that this is not the time to accept. Don't let your partner feel like they are not good enough for you.

If you have questions about the relationship itself (not just the marriage), explain it honestly. This may not be the best time to voice your complaints, but once you are both calm, it is important that you explain that there are problems in the relationship

Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 11
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 11

Step 6. Evaluate the way forward

From this point on, things could get awkward. It is also possible that everything goes well with a loving approach to continue cultivating love and relationship. In the event that your partner is able to accept your position (either an alternative to marriage or delaying the decision for now), the relationship will remain strong and move forward. If, on the contrary, it creates a rift in the relationship and causes suspicion, anger, resentment or discomfort, it may be time to re-evaluate the purpose of staying together. Unless it's clear the relationship is over, take a few weeks to sort out your post-proposal emotions before making a drastic decision.

Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 12
Reject a Marriage Proposal Step 12

Step 7. Avoid conditional agreements

Telling your partner "I'll accept if you …" is not a reasonable agreement, nor is it related to love. A year from now, you may find yourself in the same situation as you are now, with many feelings of resentment for putting yourself in that situation. Instead, ask for more time to work out whatever makes you want to conditionally respond. Your real answer is most likely "no," and you should only change your mind if you really believe it with all your heart.


  • If it's a spontaneous and unprepared proposal, you can respond more lightly by saying something like "I think you should pick a better time" or "It's a little early to think about that."
  • Just because you bought a ring does not mean that you have to accept the proposal. If you accept, you will say "yes" to the person, not to the ring.
  • Accept that the emotions will be intense. It takes courage both to ask and to reject. By accepting that it is a very emotional situation, you will allow yourself to feel confusion, discomfort and uncertainty.
  • An alternative solution is to say "no" directly.


  • If you know that your partner is not the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, do not give them false hope or make confusing comments that can be interpreted in many ways. It's kinder to make your opinion clear.
  • Avoid making jokes or resorting to ingenuity. This is a solemn and delicate moment of deep vulnerability, and jokes or witty comments can hurt. In the event that you have to resort to humor, make sure to focus solely on yourself.

Popular by topic