Marriage is one of the four or five biggest decisions a person makes in their life. (The others being: having children, your occupation, where you’ll live, when you’ll retire, and whether you like Olive Garden.) Most people spend a considerable chunk of their lives imagining what their wedding will be like. Before getting married, it’s natural to look to people who have already gotten married for advice and guidance.

But I say you can learn just as much from failure as success. What about the people who tried to get married and failed? Their stories can teach you a lot about what to do and what not to do.

Recently, Reddit user r/zp1995 asked their fellow Redditors who have turned down a marriage proposal to explain why. Their replies were brutally honest. If you’re getting married, these examples might be instructive. And if you have no interest in marriage whatsoever, you can enjoy it for the voyeurism!



1. Shoot your shot.

“I was in my first few years of teaching and one of my nine year old students brought his sister’s play ring to school, got down on one knee when the class was on the field, and he proposed to me. It was very sweet. I declined saying that he was a little young for me.” – MrsKilltime

2. This is just crazy enough to work!

“He literally only proposed because i caught him cheating. He thought i would say “yes! Omg of course! I forgive you! Please, continue to cheat on me after we both sign a legally binding contract!” Dude was dumb.” – floordit


“A friend’s girlfriend got hammered at a bowling alley. Got down on one knee completely seriously and then wet herself while proposing to me.” – buserr0r

4. All hail King Jason I. Long may he reign.

“He was that weird stoner patron that came in just to talk to me even though I wasn’t interested. He told me he was the heir to the commonwealth and should be king after Elizabeth dies, because he had the 3 out of the emblems of the United Kingdom, and once he got the 4th it would secure his position. He would also make airplane noises when I had my attention turned to other tasks. That’s a no Jason.” – ausgekugelt

5. Mommy issues.

“I thought my ex had anger management issues, and I didn’t get along with his mother. He was too attached to her. He later became a violent alcoholic—years after we broke up. He also stole quite a bit of money from me to give to his mother for bills… I was not aware of this until months after the fact. I feel like I dodged a huge bullet there.” – pelicanfriends

6. Pump the brakes, pal.

“Because we had been dating for a week.” – sassylittlespoon

7. Flash-forward.

“When he asked, my future flashed in front of me and I hated it. He was a good guy and I did love him, but we wanted different things. We had been together for many years but the proposal was still a surprise. I think he proposed to try and save a sinking relationship.” – futalfufu

8. Fifth time’s the charm.

“My husband proposed one month into dating. I declined because, you know, one month.

A year later we moved in together and he proposed and I declined because I wasn’t ready.

Almost three years later and two more declined proposals I said yes on the 4th time. I finally felt ready.

We have been married 11 years. In retrospect, his instincts were probably better than mine.” – dontbadgerthewitness

9. Do I really know this guy?

“I met him at an art opening, he flew back to his home state a couple days later. We spent a month talking on the phone every day, and he asked me to come with him to Italy while he produced some paintings for a patrons new villa. I started getting everything together to renew my passport and prepare for the trip. He told me he was going to propose to me in Italy. I told him this was too much for me and I wasn’t feeling like we were on the same level in the relationship. He lost his shit, called me 50 times through the night, but after the first time I didn’t answer anymore. A few years later I found out he had gone to prison- statutory rape of one of his art students.” – LizaBerlin

10. So…no second date?

“It was our first date. He showed up drunk and called me somebody else’s name.” – Missscarlet9314

11. Hmm, you proposed at a funeral home? Can’t imagine why you got turned down.

“My ex girlfriend declined when I proposed a couple years ago. It was surprising because we had discussed marriage before and she said that she wanted me to propose. I even got her father’s blessing before he passed away and proposed to her surrounded only by close friends, family, and funeral home staff. I feel like I did everything right but sometimes that isn’t enough I guess.” – dennismiller2024

12. The commitment-phobe.

“He told me he wouldn’t say that he loved me until we were married. Big red flag.” – beautifullybroken10

13. The multi-tasker.

“We were only dating for six weeks. He also proposed in the middle of sex with no ring, like literally stopped mid-thrust and asked.” – Anyanka-goes-rawr

14. Too little, too late.

“Not me but my hairdresser and I we’re talking about her recent breakup the other day. She had been dating her BF for seven years, he never proposed so she broke up with him, didn’t want to waste her time. As she was breaking up with him he proposed, she said no.” – piuttostoItaliana

15. And finally, here’s one with a happy ending.

“We were on the verge of a breakup when he asked. We’d been having problems for a few years. His idiot friend told him it was a good idea to propose and that it would make everything magically better. I told him no, we broke up and I moved away for a while.

As they say, absence makes the heart grow was true in our case. We were able to work things out. I moved back and 2 years later, we got married. We’ve been together for 24 years, have 2 daughters and 1 grandchild!” – OtterNonsence417



h/t: Bloomjoy Collective