Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Getting Personal: “I Proposed To My Boyfriend…Over the Phone”

The following is essay is written by guest contributor Rachael Rifkin.

[Actually, he said yes]

My then-boyfriend, Joey, and I were on the phone talking about his upcoming visit the following week when all of a sudden he said he wanted to ask me an important question in person — a question he couldn’t ask me over the phone. We had already talked about the other big things. We had said we loved each other and wanted to live together, so there was really only one important question left. He was going to propose to me in a week. Which meant I was going to be in proposal purgatory until then. That’s absolutely not how a proposal’s supposed to work! You either propose or you don’t propose.

Over twenty years earlier, my mom had just gotten home from a trip when she heard the phone ring. She’d been in Los Angeles meeting my dad’s family for the first time, and it was my dad on the phone checking in to make sure she got home safe. Then, he proposed to her. On the phone. And she said yes. Even though it was mere hours after they’d been together in person. Even though my mom didn’t get a bended-knee proposal and couldn’t excitedly hug my dad for a little while, she said yes.

He’d been thinking about asking her for a little while, but it was his grandmother who gave him that extra push. After my mom left, my dad’s grandmother said, “I like her. You should marry her.” So he asked her over the phone, figuring if my mom said no he could just hang up afterward.

“Hey, it was better than not asking,” my dad pointed out.

So it all worked out, but I would never say yes to a proposal like that. Not that I was ever expecting to receive a proposal like that, because who would propose over the phone anyway? Besides my dad, of course.

Apparently, ahem, I would.

Suddenly armed with the knowledge that my boyfriend was going to propose when he came to visit in a week, I had two options: wait until I saw my boyfriend in person to get my romantic proposal (it was going to involve rose petals, I later found out) or ask him to marry me on the phone. Less than a minute later, I had a fiancé that I couldn’t hug or kiss for another week.

My mom always said I should learn to be more patient. Come to think of it, she said the same thing to my dad sometimes, too.

Joey and I met through friends the summer before our junior year of college on a carpooling trip to Venice Beach. I was 19 and he was 20. At first, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make the trip because he was supposed to pick up his dad at the airport, but at the last minute his dad decided to take a later flight. We talked a lot at the beach and the Thai restaurant we went to afterwards. Over the course of the day, he went from being the short skinny guy with the big Suburban to the guy with the pretty eyes. (Instead of telling him he had pretty eyes, I chickened out and told him he had long eyelashes.)

We got together as a group a couple more times over the next three weeks and Joey and I usually ended up gravitating toward each other, spending most of the time talking alone. The last time we all hung out was the day before my family’s annual summer trip to Mammoth Mountains. After that, I’d be heading off to the Netherlands to study abroad for a semester, and Joey was going back to school in Florida. We both admitted we liked each other and agreed to write.

We wrote letters and emails, and we talked on the phone. We’d talk for hours and hours. He said he loved me, I said I loved him, and then we got engaged on the phone, just over a month after we met, and a week before he flew out to spend a weekend in Paris with me.


[Us at a train station photo booth in Paris]

He waited until he was back in Florida to tell his parents we were engaged. By that point, we’d known each other about a month and a half and had been a couple for three weeks. I waited a few more weeks to tell my parents because then I could at least say Joey and I had been together for two months. (They didn’t take it very well.)


From then on, it was an endless stream of wedding planning and people trying to talk me out of getting married. One of the only people who didn’t object was my grandmother. She told me that she and Grandpa had gotten married pretty quickly too. She didn’t give any details, but the old love letters I found years later filled in the blanks. Turns out they’d only been together about three months when they got engaged and eight months when they married. She was 22 and he was 24. Too bad I didn’t know all that when everyone was telling me I was crazy. It might have helped my case.

On August 5, 2002, exactly a year to the day after we met, Joey and I made it down the aisle, despite everyone’s grumblings.


Today is our anniversary. We’ve been together 13 years and married 12. My grandparents were married 55 years and my parents were married a few months shy of 35 years before my mother passed away. I’m hoping in addition to fast proposals, I continue the family tradition of long marriages, too. So far so good.



Rach_Retro_Photo (1)Rachael Rifkin is a ghostwriter/personal historian who blogs at Life Stories Today about the traits we inherit, whether genetically or environmentally, and the qualities that we find only in ourselves. Her favorite things are reading, random acts of kindness, high fives, playing with her dogs, and laughing with her husband.



19 comments… add one
  • Shere August 5, 2014, 3:01 pm

    What a wonderful story! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness. My husband and I got engaged after dating for 3 months and got married 3 months later. I can relate to the grumblings!

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    • Rachael Rifkin August 5, 2014, 5:37 pm

      Thank you, Shere! Same to you and your husband. How long have you been married now?

      We should start a support group for people who had to deal with pre-wedding doubters and grumblers. Some people were pretty insistent! Oh well, I guess my husband and I had the last laugh though. 🙂

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  • Addie Pray August 5, 2014, 4:34 pm

    I love the “getting personal” feature. And congrats on 12 years of marriage! But wow I was way more blown away by the “we got engaged ‘just over a month after we met’ *and* the 1-month relationship was long distance to boot *and we were 19 and 20, respectively” part of your story than the “I proposed over the phone” part. How/why – obviously it’s working out for you – but how/why?!?! It sounds like a fairy tale.

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    • Rachael Rifkin August 5, 2014, 5:53 pm

      Oh, was our quick relationship, quicker engagement, and young age more shocking than an over-the-phone proposal? ;-p

      I don’t have a very good explanation for the how/why part. We just clicked. We do come from somewhat similar backgrounds and have mutual friends, so that helped.

      We had weird things in common too. Both sets of parents were married on the exact same day — August 20, 1978. We both got the same SAT score. We both ran cross country and track our freshman years of high school, and we even played each other once (he went to a high school about 10 miles away from me).

      Even 13 years after meeting him, I’ve never encountered anyone who even comes close to being as weird, fun, silly, and adorable as my hubby (of course, I am a bit biased).

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      • Portia August 5, 2014, 10:18 pm

        That’s my parents anniversary too! (Different year)

      • Rachael Rifkin August 6, 2014, 2:49 pm

        That’s pretty cool! I guess it was a popular day to get married.

      • Wendy (not Wendy) August 6, 2014, 8:19 am

        But I’m really curious… why so quickly? My brother got married quickly and very young (both 19) because he and his wife are religious; was it something like that? (They’ve been married 14 years now!)

      • Rachael Rifkin August 6, 2014, 2:57 pm

        Nope, we’re not religious, just impatient. ;-p

      • Rachael Rifkin August 6, 2014, 3:01 pm

        Nope, not religious, just impatient. ;-p

  • bittergaymark August 5, 2014, 6:52 pm

    If you REALLY want to be romantic — propose by text! 😉

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    • Addie Pray August 5, 2014, 8:34 pm

      oh oh oh now i think i’d like a proposal on a post-it note. how funny would that be? then i’d be forced to tell the “via a post-it” story for the rest of my life. if a man proposed to me that way he would be the funniest ever!

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      • Addie Pray August 5, 2014, 9:25 pm

        No, I got it. The best proposal ever would be: a post-it slipped to you on the bathroom door while you’re going number 2.

      • Portia August 5, 2014, 10:33 pm

        No matter how the official one happens, I will always maintain Bassanio’s first proposal was over AIM. I might have to steal your bathroom post-it note idea, though…

    • Rachael Rifkin August 5, 2014, 9:52 pm

      I might have done it via text if it had been an option back then. ;-p

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  • haggith August 5, 2014, 7:28 pm

    maybe this should come with the advisory “please do not attempt at home, this is a one-in-ten-thousand case.”

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    • Rachael Rifkin August 5, 2014, 9:50 pm

      The asking someone to marry them over the phone part, or the getting married quickly and at a young age part?

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      • bittergaymark August 6, 2014, 12:55 am

        All THREE!

  • Taylor August 5, 2014, 11:22 pm

    I love this. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Rachael Rifkin August 6, 2014, 2:58 pm

      Thanks for loving this!

      Reply Link

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