Ew. People are looking
I was seeing this person for less than a year and they decided to propose to me on my birthday… at my birthday party… with all of my friends… who they were meeting for the first time. The ring was nice enough, but I don’t want to get married (or even engaged) while I’m still in university. I need more time to be a stupid-young-person before I start thinking about marriage. So, I said no.
They were pretty embarrassed and we haven’t really talked since. We’re meeting up this week to return each other’s stuff. What can I say to them so I’m not remembered as the person who rejected them (very publicly?)
A Stupid Young Person
The subject of marriage is not one to broach for the first time while one of you is down on one knee. Couples should be on the same page about what marriage means and when — or if — they might want to take that step well before any proposal takes place. Especially a public one.
It sounds to me like this person put you in a very uncomfortable position, and while I understand your desire to be remembered semi-fondly, I don’t know that it’s something worth contributing any energy to. By no means would I tell you to approach your upcoming meeting with anything but kindness, but there is no need to excessively compensate for the embarrassment this person seems to have caused themself.
The choice to mark your birthday and the meeting of your friends with a proposal was a mistake on their part. You can choose to extend the kindness of explaining your choice to say no when you meet this week, or you could write a letter for them to read at a later date.
The desire to get more ‘stupid-young-person’ stuff done is fair. Youth allows for more acceptance of mistakes, and a faster rebound from the consequences of poor decisions. Focus on the positives of being single and do all the stupid shit you’d like.