Promise rings operate slightly differently than engagement rings. For engagement rings, it’s much more popular for women to wear them than men. While men and women do wear them, and the trends are changing such that it’s more popular among men, there’s still a decent discrepancy.
Unlike engagement rings, men and women tend to wear promise rings in more similar numbers. In this way, promise rings have more in common with men’s wedding bands than engagement rings, though they’re overall seen as a pre-engagement step in some couples.
What Is a Promise Ring?
Well, a promise ring is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a ring that signifies a promise between the couple. Sound a little vague? Well, that’s because it is, honestly. The promise ring is a much newer phenomenon than the engagement ring, so the rules and norms are a little undefined.
Generally, the promise ring signifies that desire to get engaged, though circumstances currently don’t allow for it. This makes them popular among younger couples as well as just an overall popular option for couples who want to profess a commitment to each other but aren’t ready to be engaged just yet.
Still, a promise ring can mean a lot of things, depending on the couple. Because of its relative newness, how most people give and receive promise rings is still being defined. As a rule, you want to convey exactly what the ring means because it may be unclear.
Do Guys Wear Promise Rings?
Certainly, they do. In fact, when it comes to rings, guys are more likely to wear promise rings than engagement rings, on the whole. Granted, many more guys wear engagement rings in sheer numbers because of the lower level of popularity among promise rings. However, as a percentage, guys are much likelier to wear promise rings than engagement rings.
Guys who wear promise rings are also, we assume, likelier to wear engagement rings. We don’t have hard stats on that, but it seems to stand to reason that a guy who wears a promise ring would be cool with wearing an engagement ring before swapping it out for black wedding bands.
Source: shutterstock.com/Studio Romantic
Is There an Etiquette for Promise Rings?
To a certain degree, yes. Like we said, the norms are still evolving, but there are a few things to keep in mind if giving or receiving a promise ring.
Rule 1: If You Break Up, Give the Ring Back
Look, breakups happen. Just be glad you weren’t actually engaged when it happened because that’s a lot more of a mess. Still, just like engagement rings, you want to give the promise ring back. Chances are that the promise rings you exchanged weren’t very expensive. In fact, they really should be affordable rings. Still, on principle, you want to return them.
Rule 2: Be Clear When Giving a Promise Ring
Because of the evolving norms on these, it may not be completely clear what this signifies. If you have to have the “no, it’s a promise ring — we aren’t engaged” talk, that’s only going to go poorly. This is likely a thing you’ve talked about beforehand, so it shouldn’t be a huge deal, but it’s worth double-checking and being extra clear.
Source: shutterstock.com/Margarita Stromets
Beyond those two rules, really just feel it out. A promise ring has some flexibility in the meaning, but it’s usually meant to convey a level of commitment beyond just dating but not quite engagement level. If you want to show your love but can’t get engaged anytime soon for some logistical reasons, a promise ring may make a lot of sense for you.