Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?

By Patricia Oelze|Updated April 7, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Richard Jackson, LICSW

Tradition dictates that the man gets down on one knee and, in a grand and romantic fashion, asks the woman he loves to marry him and presents her with a diamond ring. He gets a wedding band at the exchange of vows, but what about the time in between? Do men wear engagement rings, too?

The answer might actually be a bit more complicated than you would think. Examining the history of the engagement ring will show you that it was originally more about the woman than the man. Regardless, things have changed quite a bit in modern times. Taking a look back and examining how things are now can give you a clearer picture of the relationship between men and engagement rings.

History Of Engagement Rings

An engagement ring is a ring that shows that the wearer is engaged to be married. It is a popular engagement gift in Western Cultures as can be found in the United States. Today, 80% of betrothed women are given engagement rings to mark the occasion. But where did that tradition come from? It actually has its roots in the distant past.

Historically, the use of wedding rings began with the Egyptians. The circular bands represented eternity. Wearing a round band on one’s finger symbolized their commitment to being together forever.

There was also the tradition of paying a dowry in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. By the 2nd century B.C., the ancient Romans began giving “betrothal rings” instead of high-priced gifts and dowries. This was a physical representation that a woman was “taken” and was meant to show ownership. The engagement ring was born.

Fast-forward to the 1880s when diamonds were discovered in South Africa. Purely a commercial campaign, diamonds began to be marketed as an engagement ring necessity. That is how we get to the engagement rings we are familiar with today. Many engagement rings are quite expensive and very ornate, making it easier for some couples to afford them than others.

In the United States, there was a decline in the popularity of diamond engagement rings after World War 1. It is also good to note that the jewelry industry began to make men’s engagement rings in the early 21st century.

Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?

The original engagement rings were meant to convey the “ownership” of a woman. They no longer mean this. What they now represent is that a woman has made a free choice to marry her husband-to-be. The engagement ring now symbolizes love and commitment. Whether men wear engagement rings or not is an entirely personal preference. While the vast majority of men don’t wear engagement rings in our society, some choose to do so based on what they believe it represents. It is an outward symbol of an emotional commitment they’ve already made.

Additionally, today traditional gender roles are more fluid. Women may ask men to marry them, or same-sex couples choose to become engaged with the same long-standing traditions of heterosexual couples. In these circumstances, the engagement ring still stands front and center in the act of proposing marriage, and men may be presented with one to wear during the engagement period.

Some Men Do Not Like To Wear Rings

The truth is that there are many men who simply do not like to wear rings or jewelry of any kind. In this situation, it is possible that the man may want to display his relationship status in another way. It is not uncommon for the partner of such a man to want him to wear a men’s engagement ring to show that he is taken. You have likely seen some men wearing their rings around their necks.

Attaching an engagement ring or a wedding ring to a necklace and wearing it that way feels more natural for some men. It is a way to show the world that you are committed to your partner, even when wearing a ring does not make you feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with being honest about how you feel, and if wearing the ring in a traditional fashion just is not for you, then this may wind up working out better. You can keep it in mind if you are a man who does not want a ring on his hand.

There are sometimes practical reasons why men do not want to wear male engagement rings too. Men who work in certain career paths may tend to get messy quite often. Anyone who works as a plumber, waste collection specialist, construction worker, or any other messy job knows that hands can get dirty. Getting your nice and expensive engagement ring dirty on the job is not something that you want to do.

Taking the ring on and off is not always perfect either, as it increases the risk of losing the ring. Rings are small enough that they are surprisingly easy to lose. Wearing it around your neck or keeping it somewhere safe at home may be more practical for you. It largely depends on the situation and on your thoughts on the matter.

No One Has To Wear A Ring

It should also be noted that no one absolutely has to wear a ring in modern times. There are many young couples that choose not to buy or wear rings due to the cost. Of course, you can buy inexpensive rings to mark the occasion, but it is up to you whether you wish to do this or not. Engagement and marriage are all about the love you have for your partner and not about an object that you put on your finger.

A ring can indeed be a great symbol that represents your love. It is appropriate for either a man, a woman, or a gender-neutral individual to wear these rings. There is nothing wrong with forgoing the idea of wearing rings either. Speak about your desires with your significant other and come to a conclusion about what they would like you to do. If your partner would prefer for you to wear an engagement ring in some fashion, then it may be worthwhile to do it in order to show your love.

Set Yourself Up for Success

If you are engaged (or thinking about it), set your marriage up for success by participating in some pre-marital counseling to learn positive communication and to identify – and work through – things that have the potential to be major points of dissension in your impending marriage. BetterHelp.com offers online counseling so you and your sweetie can even do it in the comfort of your own living room. If you are in a long-distance relationship, it is a practical alternative to traditional office-based counseling that may not work for your situation.

Sometimes counseling can be a great way to prepare yourself and your partner for the rigors of married life. Most relationships have flaws, and getting a little bit of help can assist you in identifying ways to improve your communication. You absolutely love your partner, and you want to be with them forever. If a little bit of online counseling can make a difference in your life, then it is worth the small time investment that it will take to make it happen.

If you want to reach out to the online counselors, then you can do so at any time. They will be readily available at times that are convenient for you. Just keep this in mind if you would like to work on certain issues ahead of your nuptials. You will feel like you are ready to succeed and will be confident that your marriage will stand the test of time.

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