“AM I WRONG?” WINGMAN: THE CASE AGAINST RUINING THE SURPRISE

Whoever said that all’s fair in love and war had obviously never been on the losing end of a fight with a woman. We sulk, we take passive aggressive digs, and sometimes we flat out refuse to admit that we’re wrong.

But sometimes we aren’t wrong. Sometimes you’re wrong, boys. And the only way to determine who the exculpatory party is vs. the One Who Eff’d Up is to allow a jury of your peers to decide. Or at least, an uninvolved and impartial party, such as yours truly.

That’s why Miss Wingman created the “Am I Wrong?” feature, to give dudes a platform to plead your case when you feel wrongly blamed by a female sparring partner. And it’s my pleasure to bring you an all new edition of the blame game, courtesy of Paul in Ohio.

The set up: Paul, our friendly protagonist (or antagonist, it’s yet to be determined), has been dating his girlfriend Harriet for a little more than a year. They do not live together, mostly for “practical” reasons that involve Harriet needing to live on-site at her counseling job, and her apartment not feasibly accommodating two people. But they have had several conversations regarding their future and believe each other to be “the One.”

The argument: “About two weeks ago, I was out shopping with my girlfriend of nearly 18 months. We were walking in an area rife with jewelry stores, so I decided to see if she wanted to pop into one of them and ‘take a look around.’ Obviously I meant to check out engagement rings. She hesitated for a second, but after giving me a weird look, agreed.

We spoke to a very nice sales lady who showed my girlfriend several different shapes and cuts of diamonds. After trying on about five, she settled upon a square-looking one, which I guess you girls call a “princess” cut. We thanked the woman for her time, left the store without purchasing anything (it was just meant as an info-gathering mission on my end) and went home.

But as soon as we were home, she started acting upset. When I pressed her on it, she admitted that she was really disappointed that we’d just gone ‘engagement ring shopping.’ I told her that no, we hadn’t gone engagement ring shopping, we’d gone engagement ring browsing, and that the shopping was something I’d be doing solo one day in the future.

She said it didn’t matter, that now she knew it was coming, and that the surprise she would feel from the proposal was ruined in her mind. She’d wanted me to run my own recon mission to find out her design preferences without her knowing so that it would be a complete shock when I finally asked. I told her that she still wouldn’t know when I was doing it or how, but no matter what I said, she was still bummed out over the whole thing.

I’d only intended to get her input on what style she preferred and maybe get a ring size while I was at it, hell – I have no clue what girls like  – but she said that if I really knew her well enough, I’d know what her style was. I disagree, we could be dating 10 years and I’d still not know whether she wanted a round, princess, or a goddamn triangle for that matter. But apparently, I’ve somehow messed the whole thing up?

It’s not like we fought or yelled, it was just hearing her tell me that I’d ‘ruined’ the engagement surprise she’d been looking forward to her whole life that made me feel like a huge jerk. So, Miss Wingman, tell me – am I wrong? Am I the idiot, or is she overreacting?”

The verdict: Yikes. And also, sucks to be you, Paul. Not to mention, is that really your girlfriend’s name? Man, I didn’t know people were still naming their kids Harriet after, like, 1935. What the hell are her sisters names, Edith and Muriel? Sorry, just took me a minute to get past that… But the answer to your question, if I’m being serious, is in reality probably a little blame on both sides. And here’s why…

You were just trying to be a conscientious boyfriend, to be as considerate as possible. I get that. You did what you thought was the logical thing, so as not to have her smile through gritted teeth when you snapped open the box to a ring that was decidedly not her (and that she’d have to stare at for the next, oh, say, 40 or 50 years). If “Sex and the City” taught men nothing else, it should be to fear the “ugly ring” conversation. (Hey, don’t blame me, blame Carrie Bradshaw).

But even though you were just covering your bases, what you didn’t realize is that, for a lot of women, the idea of being proposed to is something we daydream about since we’re little. No, strike that. Not most women. All women. Even me, who hates the idea of all things girly and fairytale-esque, and who couldn’t care less about floral arrangements or picking out dresses. And why do we fantasize and wonder about our proposal? Because it’s a big frigging deal, that’s why.

The idea of asking someone to forsake all others and devote themselves to you every day until they die is kind of a tall order, don’t you think? So forgive us if, even if we aren’t interested in any JumboTron or sky diving antics being involved, we want your proposal to be as special as humanly possible. And that, in our minds, involves the element of surprise. (Not to mention some seriously heartfelt words. Don’t forget the sentiment, gentlemen).

On the other hand, while I can sympathize with your girlfriend’s disappointment – unintended though it may be – I think she needs to accept the fact that she was giving you entirely too much credit. I’ve come to learn that women have a grossly overestimated view of how much guys really know about engagement rings. I know we all assume that you’ll just hijack one of our own rings for sizing, enlist the covert help of our inner circle and embark on some stealth shopping mission armed with your own innate knowledge of clarity and carat size, but in real life? That shizz ain’t happenin’.

I’ve actually had girls tell me that their boyfriends contemplated buying them a heart-shaped ring, because, you know, all girls like hearts and shiny things. Don’t they?

Hahaha. Wait…hahahaha. No judgment intended, boys, but that just confirms how little you know about our tastes (and rightfully so). Also, if you’re dating the kind of girl who actually would like such a thing, RUN. Or else you have a lifetime of rose-colored furniture and floral bedding to look forward to.

So the takeaway from all of this is that yes, she has every right to feel a pang of disappointment from thinking the element of surprise is somewhat tainted. But no, that doesn’t give her the right to tell you that to your face and make you feel guilty. You were only being pragmatic and (you thought) considerate, you intended no harm.

Granted, you can’t undo the incident, but what you can do is make sure that, on the day that you finally do pop the question, that she knows exactly what she’s meant to your life and how much you love her. Speak from the heart and I promise you, all prior tipping of the cards will be forgiven.

As for the rest of you, until next time, keep sending me your issues, and I’ll keep giving it to you straight, honest, and completely unfiltered. Just the way I like my men, but that’s a post for another time. Good luck, fight fair, and remember to keep your head (and your dukes) up.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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THE AFTERMATH: HOW TO GET OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE

Ahhhh the day after Valentine’s. Hopefully you woke up in a Cupid hangover, with memories of your love-fueled, romantic night still fresh in your mind. But, just in case that’s not how it went down, I’m here to help those who’ve fallen out of their lady’s good graces.

What happened, did you get her the wrong gift? You’re not alone. Fifty three percent of women admit they’d break up with their man over a botched Valentine’s Day present, as a matter of fact. (Um, 53% of superficial, vapid women obviously – who does that?)

Or did you do something that upset her? Didn’t give her the right answer to the “What do you consider me?” question (I told you, never DTR on Valentine’s)? Or you just plain forgot to play her the Songs That Will Woo Her playlist? What, not enough cuddling? I thought we’d been over these things, guys. Have I not taught you anything? No matter, if you spent the night in sofa city, I’m here to turn things around for you.

If you fear you’ll be digging yourself out of a relationship hole for the foreseeable future, you have your choice of 3 courses of action. One is recommended, one is fundamentally discouraging, and one is straight up gangsta – it’s your call. But, if your current address is “Doghouse – Population: You,” you might want to keep reading.

The safest, most mature route is the “Apologize and throw yourself at her mercy” route. This requires that, whatever you did, you just say you’re sorry, it won’t happen again (eh, little white lies) and that you keep trying to smooth things over until her anger subsides. If you feel up to it, you can use lines like, “I know, I should’ve been thinking about your feelings,” or “You’re right, I could’ve handled it another way.” Those are steadfast crowd pleasers.

But let me say this: I only encourage this strategy if what you did WAS genuinely stupid and you think that she has a point. I may not speak for all women here, but I appreciate a man who has a backbone and won’t just “yes” me to death. You’re a man, resignation doesn’t have to be your only option. Stand up for yourself. If your woman is even remotely reasonable she’ll at least hear you out. If you think what you did could be classified as thoughtless, try to put yourself in her shoes. She’s only allowed to hold it against you for a shelf life of a few days, however. Unless it’s really, really bad – in which case you’re on your own, brotha, and the second method might be more for you.

The next one involves buying her affection. That’s right – you heard me – shower her with gifts to earn back her love. I pray to God that most women aren’t responsive to such ploys, but if your woman fits the “She can totally be bought” bill, then you’d know it better than anyone I suppose.

Some key options for the woman who likes shiny things are the following: Jewelry (duh, everyone knows that). But, I-Screwed-Up-Jewelry usually comes with a higher price tag, so perhaps scour Chanel, Louis Vuitton or something more contemporary like Jennifer Meyer jewelry for some Baby-Please-Take-Me-Back baubles. Cartier’s “Love” collection is also recommended, for obvious reasons.

If she’s the quirkier, more whimsical type (read: mildly hipster) you could try something funky, like a bicycle. Jack Spade came out with a REALLY limited edition (they actually only made 1, called the Morton) vintage-inspired bike during the holidays by famed bicycle maker Beloved.

This beauty came with a $3,000 price tag and may have already been snatched up, but Jack Spade also has an ongoing partnership with Landmark Bicycles, to sell restored vintage bikes. A very cool option, if you can swing it.

If she’s a music buff, another solid choice is to locate some hard to find (or just really badass) print of her favorite musician. Galleries like the Morrison Hotel in Soho feature an outstanding collection of fine art music photography. Want a cigarette-smoking Johnny Cash in an LA recording studio, or a Keith Richards black and white from his ’72 tour? From Jay-Z to Jimi Hendrix, they’ve got it all. The downside? This tragically hip gift can run you anywhere from $1,100 to upwards of $60,000, depending on size and artist (insert audible gasp here).

Granted, this is for the man who really, really needs to be forgiven, but smaller (cheaper) prints are available if you’re so inclined. Just remember, though, buying back her affection has to be either especially high end or especially hard to find for it to achieve maximum effect. Even Kobe’s $4 million rock for Vanessa only lasted so long, after all…

Finally, you have the, “I refuse to cave in,” method. If swallowing your pride and apologizing to your woman is less desirable than the hassle of parting ways, you need to consider that, too. If you’re fundamentally opposed because you stand behind your actions and recanting feels like compromising your integrity, that’s an argument I can get behind. But, if you just don’t want to give in because you’re bound by unyielding obstinacy, then you might want to turn the mirror on yourself instead. Holidays, especially Valentine’s Day, can bring out the best – or worst – in people. If you can’t even manage to be happy with each other on that day of all days, perhaps that’s telling you something you need to hear.

And there you have it: the best plan of attack for fixing (or fleeing) your wounded relationship. I can’t tell you which is the best method, but I can tell you that you should choose based on which type of woman is in your life. Or, you can just send it to me and let our audience decide on it, it’d make a great topic for the “Am I Wrong?” feature. I promise, I never use names.

But mostly, if you take nothing else away, hear this: choose your battles. It takes a strong man to admit he’s wrong, but it takes an even stronger woman to know when to let it go, too. Good luck, and may God (and your girl) have mercy on your soul.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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