09/27/12 - 0 Comments
The Engagement Ring Experiment
As someone who’s never been married or engaged, my left hand’s ring finger is perpetually naked. For a time, I liked to wear a delicate, simple band that my dad had given me long ago, until friend after friend (and of course my mom, who’s eager to get me married off) commented that it was bad luck, and that I was sure to scare away any potential suitors if they saw that my ring finger was spoken for. So I refrained from wearing my good luck ring for a time. I didn’t actually make any kind of conscious effort to keep track, but I’m pretty sure that guys didn’t approach me any more or less based on whether or not there was a ring on that magic finger. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, guys are completely oblivious to that sort of thing. Or are they?
I’m at that age where friends are getting engaged and married like it’s going out of style, so there’s been a fair share of ring talk in my life. Not too long ago, I was out to dinner with two friends (one married, one engaged). I have known these girls for a long time, over ten years each, and I noticed that when we hit the bar after dinner for one last cocktail, they were getting an awful lot of attention from the menfolk. Way more attention, actually, than I remembered them getting back when they were single. All other factors remained constant (they look and dress the same now as they did then), except for those engagement and wedding rings. I asked them if they had noted any difference in the number of men who approached them, and they both said that, come to think of it, yes, men did in fact talk to them more readily in social settings like the one we were in.
I got to thinking: this would make for an interesting little sociological experiment. So for the next few weeks, I went undercover as a happily engaged twenty-something. I wore my trusty faux-sparkler (Swarovski makes some great and very convincing options!) pretty much everywhere I went, save for work and, naturally, on dates. I sported that bad boy on my commute, to dinner and drinks after work with friends, and during leisurely shopping trips to the grocery store or on Main Street on the weekends. I made sure to note how members of both sexes reacted to me, and was quite surprised with the outcome.
The Men: As had been the case that night at the bar with my friends, I found that guys were more willing to approach me at bars. This was pretty shocking to me, since I assumed that, as a general rule, men in that setting only talked to women they’d potentially like to take home (granted they could have hoped to take me home despite the fact that I was “engaged,” but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, as I’d like to think that men aren’t quite that sleazy). It was refreshing to have pleasant conversation with a member of the opposite sex without the expectation that something more could/should/would come of it. I enjoyed talking with interesting, intelligent and what seemed to be decent men. On one or two occasions, a guy I was talking to made an off-handed comment like, “Are you sure you need to marry this guy?” or “Please tell me that’s just a prop.” (Um, yes it is, and who told you?!) But, for the most part, I found that guys were respectful and just trying to make friendly conversation. Who knew?
The Women: To take my experiment just a little step further, I also made note of how women reacted to my faux-bling. I definitely noticed some envious sidelong glances, but in interactions in which short conversations were had, I found that they were actually nicer to me, an outcome that I had not anticipated. Perhaps they felt less threatened because I was spoken for? One less single girl to compete with, right? I should probably mention that on some of these occasions the women stood to actually profit from being nice to me—for example, at a tony mall on Long Island, sales ladies at high-end boutiques like Chanel and Gucci laid it on thick, greeting me warmly, making small talk and being very attentive to me while I browsed (for things I couldn’t afford and had no intention of buying, by the way). In the past, though, I’ve gone into these stores and received not even the courtesy of a cursory glance in my direction. So, it could be the simple fact that they saw my ring and assumed I had money, and was therefore worth schmoozing. Whatever the case, I enjoyed that extra bit of attention.
My conclusion to this little experiment? It pays to be engaged! In all seriousness, I actually did find both sexes to be friendlier in general, though most likely motivated by different factors. Strange though it may seem, it was fun to play this engaged role, so much so that the sociologist (and actress) in me is tempted to keep this experiment up a little longer….watch this space!
Photo credit: The Telegraph