What Is A Promise Ring? The Difference Between a Promise Ring and a Marriage Engagement Ring

What is a promise ring aka commitment ring? Does promise rings have a place in love relationships? Why it may not be wise to give a promise ring in a love relationship, how to give a girl a promise ring if you choose to and the best way to use promise rings. These are the areas covered in this article.

A promise ring is as the name implies; a ring given to someone as a promise of something. The something could be anything. It could be a promise of marriage with someone in the near future, a promise to be faithful to someone and their relationship, a promise to keep ones virginity until marriage, a promise of eternal friendship and so on. That's why a promise ring is also called a friendship ring.

These days people especially in the western world give promise rings for literally anything that makes sense to them. Generally it's a show or symbol to stay committed to someone or something.

Having said that, a promise ring is especially given in love relationships usually to show commitment to the relationship and/or to promise a marriage happening down the road. Therefore the ring becomes a promise that there will be an engagement ring later in future.

Is a Promise Ring the same as an Engagement Ring?

As you may have already guessed, no it isn't. While engagement rings are only given to publicly show a love commitment between two people and the intention to get married, a promise ring can be given for several reasons.

And even when a lover gives a promise ring as a show of commitment to their relationship or a promise to give an engagement ring someday, a wedding may not happen for a long time. And while giving a promise ring shows to others that a couple is serious about their relationship it's not as serious as giving an engagement ring. Actually I can see guys giving a promise ring with the most casual of intentions. For example if a guy has a long time girlfriend that keeps nagging him about marriage, he can just give her a promise ring to shut her up for a while not because he's really promising her anything or even making any commitment.

The History of Promise Rings

It's not clear to me how the practice started, but it's a very common practice especially in the western world. However I'm yet to see a Nigerian wearing a ring called a promise ring. It may be done here, but just not as common as it is abroad.

Are there Specially Designed Rings as Promise Rings?

Yes there are. And I hear they are cheaper too than engagement rings.

Samples of promise rings

Diamond Cluster Split Shank Promise Ring in 10K White Gold Diamond Cluster Open Shank Fashion Ring in 10K Gold Diamond Promise Ring in Sterling Silver and 10K Rose Gold Diamond Heart Promise Ring in Sterling Silver

Images from zales.com

Is there any Relevance for a Nigerian Lover to Give a Promise Ring?

Seriously not really. The only reason that makes sense to me is when given temporarily in place of an engagement ring to buy some time to save for an engagement ring you think is more befitting for your woman. But giving a ring just to show commitment or a promise of marriage down the road isn't something I'm crazy about for lots of reasons.

  • A typical Nigerian lady will see a promise ring simply as a way the man wants to use to tie her down to him and I'm in that group too.

  • When there is love and trust I feel it's not necessary to give a ring to prove anything. If you really want to commit then buy an engagement ring and propose to her otherwise let things be.

  • What if after giving a promise ring you fall out of love later? You may be forced to remain in the relationship out of pity for the lady who has been showing off your promise ring for a long time. And I don't think that's fair to any of the party.

  • A promise ring may defeat the whole point of a relationship between two people. A relationship allows for two people to know themselves better. Every day you spend with the other person gives you the chance to learn something about them. Now if only after a few months you think this person is the right one for you and you give a promise ring of marriage down the road, what happens if after a year you don't feel the same about the person or you meet someone better for you? I guess this is just emphasizing what I've said above.

Should I Give a Promise Ring?

I think that's up to you. You decide for yourself if it's important to you. But the excuse that promise rings are cheaper doesn't apply to us Nigerians because we can get an engagement ring for any amount we want. Of course the quality of the ring will depend on how much you're willing to spare for it, but I'm sure a Nigerian girlfriend that loves you will prefer to wear a cheap engagement ring that tells her how much you love her and want to make her your wife as soon as possible than a ring promising her that someday you'll ask her to be your wife.

What if I Decide to Give a Promise Ring?

Well, if you choose to give a promise ring for whatever reason, make sure the other party understands your exact reason for giving the ring so that there is no confusion. Usually the more expensive the ring is the more seriously the other person will take the promise.

How Should I Present an Engagement Ring to a Girl?

There are many ways you can do that depending on how seriously you want it to be taken. But I'll advice you discuss it with her before deciding to buy her a promise ring. This is simply to make sure it's okay with her because it may not look like it but it does involve a lot to wear a commitment ring. So be sure first she's ready to go into a commitment with you and also willing to wear a ring to show the whole world she's in such commitment. And when you're sure then you can both go buy the ring together. You can even buy a matching promise ring for the both of you.

However I'm not sure if promise rings are available in Nigerian jewelry stores since it's not a common practice here. But if you really need one you can always get one to buy online. And you can easily have her make her choice online then order it.

Other ways to Give a Promise Ring

Gift it to Her

You can buy the ring, wrap it up and give it to her as a gift. If you want to make it a bit casual but yet meaningful, give it to her on one of the traditional gift given day; i.e. Christmas day, Valentine day or on her Birthday. That way it will seem like any other gift but one of deep thoughtfulness. One that comes from a deep care for her and what you mean to each other.

However if you're gifting a promise ring without prior notice make sure to hand it to her in person so as to be there when she opens the gift in other to explain clearly what the ring symbolizes for you. Or if you're not gifting it in person, write a note in a paper and roll it to a scroll and use a ribbon to tie it together with the ring; you can even add a beautiful rose to it.

Make it a Surprise

Buy the ring, wrap it up then either ask her over to your place or go to her place and then place the ring somewhere you're sure she'll find it within few minutes. Then quietly enjoy the surprise look and how her face will light up with joy as she finds it and rushes to you. Granted she may expect a proposal to follow so be quick to take her hand and explain what it means. If she was really looking forward to a proposal you may break her heart for a few minutes. So be well prepared to make up for that.

Give it in Person at a Location Specially Yours

You can make the gesture more romantic and thoughtful and difficult to turn down if you present it at a place special to the both of you. Perhaps where you met? A place you both love going together? Or a place you where when you first declare your love for her. You can even make it more romantic if you give it on the anniversary of your relationship. The fact that you remembered the anniversary alone will be enough to bring her to tears and confirm your commitment to your relationship. Let's face it men almost never remember anniversaries :)

What do I say to Her when I Give Her the Ring?

Well, why do you want to give her a promise ring in the first place? If you can answer that honestly then you already know what to say to her. Be as honest as you possibly can. There's no right or wrong thing to say when you speak to her from your heart. More than likely you're giving her a promise ring because you love her and believe in the power of your love and you want to show her that you're committed to her and your relationship.

It's likely going to be a mixed feeling for her. One she'll be happy for the gesture and sad that it wasn't an engagement ring that she has to still wait for that; this is especially true if you've been together for some years. So if you hope to give her an engagement ring in the near future do tell her that also.

Keep in mind though that a promise ring is not an engagement ring so the presentation shouldn't be too dramatic. Leave some of the drama for when you do give the real thing - an engagement ring. You don't have to go down on one knee when giving a promise ring.

Like I've said I'm not crazy about promise rings in love relationships. However where I really like the idea is when it's used as a marriage anniversary gift as a way of reassuring your wife of your continuous commitment to the vows you made to her on your wedding day. Now that makes more sense to me; but then that's just me :).

Also read: Should I ask my Boyfriend for a Commitment Ring?

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