Promise Ring vs. Engagement Ring: A Dude’s Guide to Understanding the Differences

sunset proposal on a beach

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Okay, there seems to be a failure to communicate here. You want to tell your long-term partner how much you love them, and you think that will eventually lead to marriage. At this point in your life, you’ve heard people relying on a promise ring to provide just that. But now? Now everyone is talking about engagement rings! And, from looking online, engagement rings are not cheap. 

            Isn’t there, like, a rule about engagement rings?

Yes. The rule has it that you should spend 2 months’ salary on an engagement ring. If you make $60,000 a year, that’s a ring that costs $10,000. 

...  Holy #$&!@?# @$*%!!!

We hear you! Now, that’s a rule meant to be broken, and any true love shouldn’t care how expensive their engagement ring is — and if they do, you should reconsider what your future would look like with this partner. 

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Promise rings vs. engagement rings: What the hell is the difference? 

Promise Ring vs. Engagement Ring

When it comes down to it, a promise ring and an engagement ring stand for the same thing: commitment. You and your partner wear the following ring as a symbol of unending love, which will not be broken by another suitor or a random one-night stand.  However, while they stand for, more or less, the same thing, they do differ. 

Promise Rings

Promise rings are their own sort of thing, and their significance might be burned into your brain from middle school:

Y’know. There was that one couple — maybe it was you — who traded a pair of promise rings and stated they would die for the other à la Romeo and Juliet. However, a week later, one person threw their ring at the other, screaming about how they “looked” at someone the “wrong” way. Their relationship vanished, they moved on, and you forgot about promise rings until now. 

Maybe we’re reaching, but many adults think of promise rings in a youthful way, but that’s an underserved perspective. Promise rings are shared by partners as a symbol of commitment and monogamy. A promise ring is a simple symbol that your love will not be tarnished by the actions of the other. Think of it like a blood oath you made with your friend back in the day, committing yourself to stick by the other’s side no matter what happens in life, without having anything set in stone.

Speaking of friends, promise rings don’t only apply to romantic and sexual relationships. They can also be shared between friends as a sign of commitment, never-ending friendship, and shared values. They can be a reminder that there is always someone else out there who will support you, no matter what you’re going through, and who will be by your side until the very end. The best part about promise rings is that you get a ring. 

         Me?!

Yes, you! No spending $10K on a ring just for your spouse while you have to wait until marriage to receive the same. Instead, you can share rings, whether those are custom rings or couples rings

happy man proposing

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Engagement Rings

Engagement rings vary from promise rings in their intention. While promise rings stand for commitment and never-ending friendship, engagement rings act as a specific symbol. A symbol for what? For your marriage to come. 

Traditionally, men would give women an engagement ring by proposing to them, whether after dating for years or a few short weeks. It’s a symbol of extended commitment: You can share promise rings and end a relationship with ease if it ever comes down to it; however, engagement rings are a signal of a wedding to come, which has a symbol of long-term finality to it. 

More aptly put, an engagement ring is like a contract. You’re saying “I want to marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want you to be by my side until either one of us dies.” Now that is a statement! A promise ring doesn’t have quite the same significance to it. 

… but, what if I want a ring? 

It might be the norm for just women to receive an engagement ring, but the world has changed, and modern society has made it common for men to wear engagement rings alongside their to-be spouse. The choice is yours whether you’d like to break norms and wear a ring of your own. 

Browse Our Collection Of Badass Wedding Rings

i said yes hand writing

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Put a Wedding Ring on That Finger, Already

Ready to put a ring on the love of your life’s finger? Well, don’t wait any longer! Step up your promise and ask for their hand in marriage, already. Planning on getting an engagement ring for yourself? Explore our collection of men’s wedding bands to find the ring right for you, both for engagement and your eventual wedding.