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Miss Manners: Texting unsuitable for proposal

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the past year, two male friends whom I have known for many years proposed marriage to me. I turned them both down due to the fact that both asked me in a text message.

Miss Manners, when did asking for a woman’s hand in marriage become so impersonal? I frankly felt offended that neither was willing to ask me in person on one knee.

One of the previously mentioned men I would love to marry. He is a great guy who has been there for me through thick and thin for seven years going on eight, and we work very well together. I’m 27 years old and still think that if a man is going to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, he should at least talk to her father about it and get permission to ask. Am I being too old-fashioned in this thought?

GENTLE READER: Or perhaps not old-fashioned enough. The showy, on-one-knee proposal is a modern standard, derived from cartoon ideas of Victorian proposals. Old-fashioned gentlemen were not absolutely required to propose from the floor.

Nor did they text. Miss Manners agrees that texting, which is a lightweight way of conveying instant thoughts, is unsuitable. That you have captivated two gentlemen who thought this would charm you is alarming.

Nevertheless, one of them is someone you want to marry. Seven years through thick and thin, and that’s it?

Would you accept a compromise between the overly casual and the overly contrived? That would be the dignified statement that he loves you and wants to spend his life with you, followed by the simple (but, from the right person, thrilling) question of whether you will marry him. To prompt that, you could text (because this would not be a formal communication), “If you have an important question to ask me, I would be glad to listen.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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