Women shouldn’t sit around and wait for an engagement, the Facebook COO argued in an Instagram post this week.
Already tried leaning in at work? It’s time to lean in when it comes to your relationship.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive who coined the term, wants women to take charge of their destiny – starting with marriage proposals. In an Instagram post shared this week in which she announced her own engagement, Sandberg stressed the importance of having open lines of communication with your partner when it comes to subjects such as proposals and marriage.
“There’s a conversation I keep having,” Sandberg wrote on Instagram. “I meet an amazing young woman. We talk about her career and goals. She’s full of plans and energy. Then we talk about her relationship – and the vibe changes. ‘I’m waiting for him to propose.’ ‘I don’t want to pressure him.’ ‘I hope I’ll be engaged soon.’ It seems to me that many women take charge of their lives in every way except dating and marriage.”
Sandberg stressed that this is an issue largely confined to heterosexual couples labouring under restrictive gender norms. But it’s still an issue, Sandberg argued, and one that stems from a misguided idea of marriage. “It’s like we want Prince Charming on a white horse,” she wrote. “We’re taught gender stereotypes: men are supposed to sweep us off our feet. Women learn that when we speak up for ourselves, we’re less likeable. But Prince Charming has no horse. We need to walk into our futures on our own two feet.”
In the Instagram post, the author and Facebook COO shared that when her now-fiancé Tom Bernthal proposed, it was after long discussions and planning between the two of them.
“We chose the weekend together. Then he planned the trip, hike, and picnic. Yes, he got down on one knee. And when he proposed, he had a letter for me – and I had a letter for him, because we took this step together,” Sandberg wrote.
She continued: “Equality at work depends on equality at home, and that starts with equality in dating. Equality is romantic.”
The fact remains that the number of women in heterosexual relationships who propose to their partners is still low. In a 2019 study, less than half of the women surveyed said that they would be willing to propose to their boyfriends. (Conversely, 76% of the men surveyed would be happy if their girlfriend proposed to them.)
Sandberg’s words are a reminder that, when it comes to leaning in, getting engaged is one of the final frontiers. But she also stressed that the key is communication. You can still have a surprising, swoon-inducing proposal if that’s what you really want. But make sure that you talk about this with your partner and put your desires on the table. Real romance, as Sandberg said, is equality.
“Tradition can be beautiful,” Sandberg wrote. “If you want that surprise proposal, I hope you get it. But if you can’t talk to your boyfriend about marriage, you’re either dating the wrong person or you’re not giving him credit for being the right person.”