It takes a lot of effort to find the right person and clinch the deal with the big question.
But some people are choosing to ditch the search and instead focus inwards.
Amber Renae, a 30-something Sydneysider, is one of those people who has stopped waiting for someone to come along and ask for her hand in marriage. Instead, she has instead asked herself.
“I went out and got a ring, and did a little proposal ceremony for myself."
Proposing to yourself: the ultimate act of self-love
Renae was exhausted from the constant search for ‘the one’, and took some time to figure out what it all meant.
“I’d spent my entire life believing I was incomplete, and that one day love would come along and that would complete me,” Renae says. “I thought a lot of those things that most of us think but don’t say aloud: that I wasn’t worthy or capable of love.”
“I spent months and months doing internal self-discovery and transformation, and one day I realised that everything I was looking for in a partner – worthiness, love, happiness and self-confidence – was already within me.”
This light bulb moment, Renae felt, needed to be marked – and she did so by proposing to herself.
“I decided to honour that momentous occasion; it felt like a huge achievement,” she says. “I went out and got a ring, and did a little proposal ceremony for myself.
“It’s a commitment to say I’m going to show up for myself every day, put myself first and honour myself. For someone who has, in the past, hated herself, it’s a big deal to say that I deeply love and respect myself.”
“I thought the proposal would be a bit of fun, but it had a profound impact on my life. Once I did it, it removed all the external pressure (of the expectation to have a husband and kids by a certain age and to go on lots of dates to find ‘the one’).”
The ‘sologamy’ movement
Renae is far from being alone in taking this big step to accept and love herself.
Singles from around the world are following a similar path to what’s been coined the ‘sologamy’ movement.
In Canada, a wedding planning company offers self-marriage services; in Japan, a travel agency has started offering a trip to Kyoto for a solo wedding photo shoot; in the United States, you can purchase a self-marrying kit (including a ring, vows and affirmation cards), or do a 10-week course to guide you through the process.
In a TEDx talk entitled ‘Adventures in Self Marriage’, UK-based Grace Gelder said, “Marriage … was the most accurate way to symbolise the kind of agreements that I wanted to make with myself”.
“It’s a growing trend, for women in particular,” she adds. “(Which) is not that surprising, given the history and the meaning of marriage for women.”
"For someone who has, in the past, hated herself, it’s a big deal to say that I deeply love and respect myself.”
Gelder says she received a mixed response to her self-marriage; some thought she was crazy, while others surprised her with their support.
Renae says one of the big questions she’s asked is whether she’s still open to other relationships. The answer is yes – with some caveats. “I’m now really clear on how I view relationships and what I’m willing to put up with. If a man comes into my life and isn’t treating me as well as I treat myself, then they don’t deserve to be in my life.”
Aside from that question, the initial response to Renae’s self-proposal was very clear: “When I started wearing the ring around, everyone in my life thought it was crazy and ridiculous.”
“Once people understood it was an act of self-love, and honouring the commitment I’ve made to myself, their mindsets shifted a little.”
But then again, Renae concludes, isn’t marrying yourself the very act of showing people you don’t care what they think of you?