Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?

By Patricia Oelze|Updated August 1, 2022

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 the bride to be with a diamond engagement ring. Later, he gets a wedding band for his ring finger at the exchange of vows, but what about the time in between? Does the groom-to-be get to wear a male engagement ring before the wedding day, too? And what about gay men and same sex couples? Who wears the engagement ring in that case?

The answer might actually be a bit more complicated than you would think. Examining the history of the engagement ring will show you that wearing engagement rings 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. And if you'd talk through specifics in your life or relationship beyond tying the knot, online therapy is there to help.

History Of Engagement Rings

Unsure If Your Relationship Can Withstand The Rigors Of Marriage?

Engagement rings are a type of wedding jewelry, showing 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. Traditionally, an engagement ring represents a woman’s formal acceptance of a proposal of marriage. But where did that tradition come from? Wearing engagement rings 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 a finger on the left hand 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. Thus, the engagement ring was born. But the idea of a male engagement ring was still in the future.  The Catholic Church also had a tradition of using betrothal rings when a couple became engaged, and breaking off a promise to marry after a woman’s hand had a ring was grounds for a lawsuit.

The first recorded use of women’s engagement rings happened in 1477 when the Archduke of Austria proposed marriage to his beloved by giving her an engagement ring to wear. After that, wearing an engagement ring caught on, and women’s engagement rings became popular in elite circles. However, the practice giving women’s engagement rings did not become common for the average person until the mid-1900s. Male engagement rings were still in the distant future at that time.

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, made from white or yellow gold and other precious metals, 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. Today, there is a male engagement ring trend, and the jewelry industry is making increasing numbers of promise rings and male engagement rings to meet demand. In this day and age, both partners can have their own engagement rings to display their intention for lifelong commitment to each other, and men wearing engagement rings is more common. However, it does not have to be a diamond ring to have meaning.

Other countries also have traditions of wearing engagement rings, including men wearing engagement rings. In France, Germany, Norway, and England, the ring goes on the woman’s hand, but on the right hand and not the left. In Chili, both sexes wear a ring on the right hand but move it to the left hand when they marry.

Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?

The original engagement rings were meant to convey the “ownership” of a woman. But a diamond engagement ring 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 make the personal choice 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, including a wedding bands and diamond engagement rings. But despite tradition, it is possible for one man to choose to wear a ring and another to skip the practice altogether, according to personal preferences. In the case of most same sex marriages, 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.

Engagement rings can also vary in styles, design, jewelers, materials, and overall bling. Much like how every ceremony and partnership is different, and interest in engagement rings for proposals, as well as budget for purchase can vary. Many celebrities (think: Ed Sheeran) may share information publicly about their fiancé or photos from their weddings, providing fun designs in article features, such as titanium or stainless steel or tungsten built rings, their love story, and which last name they are taking. Many family and friends might also post photos of the brides engagement ring with various stones or show people options for dresses and take a survey on which looks best.

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, and you won’t see these guys wear engagement rings. In this situation, it makes sense that the man may want to display his relationship status in another way. He might want to display the change from boyfriend to fiance through other signaling information. 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 on a chain 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. It’s your free choice. You can keep this in mind if you are a man who does not want a ring on his hand. There are also stores, such as Macy's (formerly L. bamburger & co.) where you can learn about jewelry trends and options.

There are other factors and sometimes practical reasons why men do not want to wear male engagement rings, too. First, you may not find a ring size or style that suits you. Men who work in certain career paths may tend to get their hands dirty a lot. 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. In addition, wearing engagement and wedding rings can even be hazardous in some situations.

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 an engagement ring in modern times. There are many young couples that choose not to buy or wear rings due to the cost or personal preference. 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. The perfect ring will be the one that makes you happy, and if wearing an engagement ring is what makes you happy, that’s perfect as well. Engagement and marriage are all about the love you have for your partner and not about an object that you put on your finger. You don’t necessarily need a physical representation like a like a wedding ring on your wedding finger to make your commitment real.

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. But 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. A ring made of precious metals like white gold or a diamond ring has a long tradition of significance. 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.

Unsure If Your Relationship Can Withstand The Rigors Of Marriage?

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 upcoming marriage.  BetterHelp 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. If you find yourself in a state of confusion or disagreement with your partner about whether or not to wear engagement rings, talking to an online couple’s counselor might help you sort it out.

Sometimes counseling can be a great way to prepare yourself and your partner for the rigors of married life, and can get a question answered regarding equality, legalization, marriage rules, and the rest. All 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 at BetterHelp, 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, whether either of you choses to put a ring on your ring finger or not.

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