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I was taking the PATH in, standing up on a crowded car and saw two women sitting in front of me. I saw that they were both attractive, one was reading a book and the other was doing the "train nap", that half-doze that we all do on public transportation. Maybe it is just me, but the next thing I usually do, after seeing a comely Hoboken woman, is look at her left hand.

One had an engagement ring, and the other had a ring & band. My immediate thought is, "Well, she is off the market."

Then I got to thinking about the significance of engagement rings. North American society is designed in such a way that men give women a diamond ring as part of their ritual for marriage. Why?

To the women, there are various reasons why the ring holds importance to them. I think the primary reason, which drives the majority of people is love. It is a symbol of love. For some it could be made out of tin and they would cherish it. But, there are some that, while they very much love their boyfriends, also very much want an expensive diamond ring. I don't find that to be ridiculous by any means, we are a society that is driven by materialism. We drive expensive cars, buy expensive homes, wear expensive clothes. We measure our self-worth by surrounding ourselves with trinkets and toys, the wedding ring is just an extension of that. If expense weren't at the central issue, we wouldn't give diamonds, would we? I mean, if it were just a question of a ring, that could be fashioned from any material, couldn't it? One girlfriend I had made it very clear that the quality and size of the diamond was very important to her.

For other women it is a validation of self-worth. On a recent episode of "Grey's Anatomy", Dr. Meredith Grey implores Dr. Derek Shepherd to "Pick Me. Choose Me. Love Me." over his estranged wife. I really don't think this display of needing to feel loved is also measured with many girlfriend's desires to have that ring on their finger. They get to show the world that they, are indeed, special. Even if Daddy wouldn't get them a pony when they were eleven years old.

To the men, giving a ring is just as complicated. Some, cherish their future wife and want to give a symbol of their love to her. They do this as they have learned over the years through the representation of a ring, and only recently has the diamond become a part of that symbol (Thanks to the DeBeers conglomerate). There are some men, who being vain and shallow, enjoy giving a ring because it simply says to all men, "She's mine, stay away."

Then I wondered what does it all mean?

Shouldn't an engaged man have some kind of symbol that says to other women, "I'm engaged, stay away."? Then again, if you really think about our chauvanistic society, there is an very strong theme of chaste women and men sowing their wild oats. A man who gets laid often is called a "stud" and the same kind of woman is a "slut". As much as people will try to brainwash us on the media, showing shows like Sex in the City, there is still the underlying negativity of women who are sexually active. Think about it - brides wear WHITE on their wedding day as a symbol of their purity. Men don't do this?

That is what my morning commute was like. I was thinking about all of this on the PATH train. What are your thoughts?


I agree with a lot of what you said. However, here are a few of my thoughts, as this is something I always have given thought to.

I can't speak for the rest of the country, but in these parts, it's an expensive society. That's why we pay for expensive things. In Hoboken, you ain't getting a house worth it's salt for under $700,000. I don't want to even get into the condominium arena. A little down South, if it's $300,0000 - $390,000, it's a dog and needs severe help. $400,000 and you're looking at a decent fixer-upper. Trust me, I know. They throw these prices around without even flinching. Here's the question you need to ask yourself. "What kind of situation do I want to put my family in?"

Speaking of society, the majority of people do things that they think society expects. It dictates our decisions, instead of the other way around. There is a status quo that must be followed or a crooked eye gets turned in your direction. You know how many BORING weddings I've been to because of this? Looking back, I've come to find people want to get married, not have a life partner. I guess their vision is skewed until the giant foot of life kicks them right between the eyes. They go through the formalities, trying to beat the clock instead of waiting on happiness. I guess we're a society that settles. Ughhh, settling is bad.

I don't know, but I find it so tacky when a girl "makes it clear that size of ring is important"---didn't that raise a red flag with your ex-girlfriend? I mean if the ring means more than the quality of the guy, isn't that a problem? I have some friends in NY (this doesn't seem to exist as much with girls outside of NY for some reason..) who go on and on about the ring with no boyfriend in site. It's all backwards. I value my boyfriend, and I want to get married, and I want the ring as a symbol. But I couldn't care less how big it is--finding a nice, decent, sexy guy with good values in NY is hard enough--who needs more?

Agreed with you in some ways, Janine, but you must admit you are certainly in the minority, don't you think?

yea i'm definitely in the minority! i think it's b/c i am not a born and bred NY metro area person. People are pretty self absorbed here. Enjoy reading your blog though--I love musings on relationships, life in 30's etc. (even though I'm so opinionated on it!)

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on November 10, 2005 12:56 AM.

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