The Meaning Behind Promise Rings
By Vanessa Palencia
Ever since I understood the meaning and sentiment behind promise rings, I wanted one. I wanted my high school sweetheart to give me one because I was such a hopeless romantic and I thought that it would be the most romantic thing he could ever do. Clearly, my head was filled with way too many Disney movies and thoughts of happy endings. But thank God he didn’t get me one. We were young, didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t work out anyway.
When I left high school, I didn’t hear anything more about promise rings. Perhaps it was a temporary fashion trend or perhaps I had stopped looking for it—out of sight out of mind. Whatever the cause, I had forgotten all about them until several months ago when a mutual friend posted on Facebook that their significant other gave them a promise ring. I didn’t know the person very well, but I was still tempted to comment a whole bunch of heart-eyed emojis. I excitedly showed my boyfriend the photo and he seemed to shrug it off because he didn’t understand the concept of it. A little piece of my heart chipped because the girl inside me still marveled at and was in love with the idea of the promise ring. It also made me wonder if anyone understood the notion behind it.
You see, to anyone else, a promise ring can mean anything. It can be a promise to eat healthier for the rest of your life, it can be a promise to never marry, and it can be a promise to always remember somebody. But to me, it’s a promise between two people that you will love each other for the rest of your life. It’s a step up from the normal wearing-his-jacket, going-steady kind of thing, but it’s a step before engagement. It’s the first token of a love that is going somewhere. That’s what a promise ring meant to me. But I was curious to know what it meant to everybody else.
With a little research, I found that promise rings are often mistaken for purity rings. They both involve a promise, except purity rings are a promise to yourself or God that you will remain abstinent, or sexually pure, until marriage. However, promise rings usually pertain to the promise that couples make to each other: to love each other and/or marry each other when the time is right. It is, in essence, a token of love, which is why I have always been so awed by it and why I was a little disappointed when my boyfriend did not express much interest in it.
After temporarily forgetting once again about promise rings, he surprised me on Valentine’s Day with one. He told me that symbolizes his intent; when the time is right, he will marry me. With that, he slid the beautifully simple gold diamond ring onto the third finger of my left hand. The funny thing was that he didn’t believe in promise rings, but because I did, he got me one. That’s the beauty of it. It’s the promise and the connection behind it that matters. Anyone can give you a ring, but if it doesn’t have any meaning behind it, it’s just another ring. Even if you don’t believe in the materialistic ideology behind it, we should still respect the idea because it symbolizes the tie between two people who love each other unconditionally. Sometimes you want to show your dedication and devotion without yelling it to the whole world, and the best way to do that would be through a ring.