What’s A Shut Up Ring? Look For These Signs Your Boyfriend Doesn't Really Want To Get Married

The internet collectively gasped at the beginning of the month when it was announced that Jonas Brothers frontman Joe Jonas filed for divorce from his wife, British actress Sophie Turner. The couple, who married in 2019, share two children together, and since the news was announced, it would appear that there are definitely some competing narratives at play.

By Gwen Farrell5 min read
Getty Images/Jon Kopaloff

Some theorize that 27-year-old Sophie’s penchant for partying didn’t jive with her responsibilities as a wife and mother, meaning the pair’s competing lifestyles were driving them apart – though she’s previously talked about how much she loves being a mom and a homebody. Others allege that Joe’s public relations team is behind all the rumors, and is building things up to make Sophie the bad guy (a tactic that has seriously backfired). 

But others still are saying, “I told you so,” including one TikTok user who proposed that Sophie was the victim of a “shut up ring.” Outside the impending dissolution of the Jonas-Turner marriage, this is a term that has been circulating on social media for several reasons. Most of us are probably thinking, what’s a shut up ring? But more importantly, if this is the outcome, how can we avoid it?

Is Your Proposal Really Code for Shut Up?

Picture this: You’ve met the love of your life and the man you want to spend forever with. You want to have his children and spend the rest of your days together. There’s only one problem: Your man just isn’t convinced.

He might say he’s not the marrying type or the commitment type. He might say he’s been burned before or that marriage is an outdated institution. He could say all these things, but he likely won’t have any problem having a sexual relationship with you, having a joint bank account with you, or letting you cook and clean a shared space for him. This is no problem if you’re also not the “marrying type” or don’t plan on having kids. But for women who do want marriage, a home, and a family, this is your boyfriend showing his true colors.

You beg, you plead, you send hints, you might even give him the ultimatum to get married or break up. Rather than lose companionship, and maybe because everyone else around you is getting married and it’s the thing to do, he proposes. The correct thing he should do is end the relationship if he doesn’t see marriage as a possibility, and you do. But for the time being, he has quieted all your pleading with an engagement ring – otherwise known as a shut up ring. Now, he’s bought himself some time, and your relationship can coast into a years-long engagement.

And then, you inevitably end up with what we’re consistently seeing on social media. Grooms humiliate their brides with explicit or gross vows, or grooms aggressively and even violently smash cake in their brides’ faces when the bride has specifically asked them not to and her discomfort is obvious.

How is smashing cake in a bride’s face the hallmark of a shut up ring? Well, it’s a downstream effect of a shut up ring. It's a choice the groom makes to communicate to all of the guests at the wedding that he doesn’t want to be there. He doesn’t want to enjoy the day, or even be passive-aggressive. He wants to be aggressive, period, and to relate that he feels emasculated in some way by biting the commitment bullet. He’s also clearly communicating a complete lack of respect and regard for his bride. Now, some couples might use this as a gag for laughs from their family and friends, but in 99% of the videos we’ve seen, the bride storms off in anger or the video devolves into an argument between the two – not to mention that what’s supposed to be the happiest day of their lives will forever be overshadowed by his immaturity.

For Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, one year of dating was followed by a two-year engagement – and even rumors that Joe dumped Sophie before they suddenly eloped to a Las Vegas wedding chapel. For perspective’s sake, in the same amount of time that Joe and Sophie were engaged, his brother Nick met, dated, and married his wife Priyanka Chopra in an elaborate, two wedding-celebration that spanned multiple continents. There’s also the fact that Joe is seven years older than Sophie, and in the wake of their divorce announcement, old speculation has resurfaced that it’s Joe, the perpetually on-tour boy band member, and not Sophie, who’s the real partier.

Even the Type of Ring He Chooses Could Be a Clue

Before we delve into additional supporting evidence, we should all understand one key concept: People spend money on the things they care about. Even if you and your fiancé are limited in what you can afford in the way of an engagement ring, as many are, there are still simple, timeless, beautiful cost-effective options for you.

This is precisely why some hypothesize that even the ring your fiancé buys for you could be a clue to his thinking. Is he buying a ring he knows you’ll love, or the one that’s cheapest?

TikTok is rife with examples, specifically composite diamond rings, or what are known commonly as “diamond dust” rings. These rings are often composed of 0.01 of a carat, or smaller diamonds clustered together to look like a larger stone. They’re extremely distinct looking and often designed in unmistakable settings, which designate them as composite diamond rings. While the average diamond engagement ring might run thousands of dollars, these rings typically average a few hundred dollars.

If the woman being proposed to wants this style of ring, that’s what she wants, end of story. But a man spending his money on things like cars, his friends, vacations, and gaming systems, and then buying his fiancée a lower-quality ring has led many to hypothesize that these rings are the go-to favorite of men who are proposing only to get their girlfriends to quit nagging them. Not only is he putting no effort into the ring he buys and probably his proposal, but he might smash cake in your face at the reception, even when you ask him not to.

It should be said that a bigger stone or more expensive ring doesn’t necessarily communicate how much a man loves the woman he wants to marry. It’s really about the effort. Following one TikTok on diamond dust rings, many users stitched the video to their own responses, sharing what things their husbands or fiancés gave up just to be able to buy them a ring. Again, having a meaningful ring doesn't have to be expensive. But the TikTok trend is also chockfull of women who received diamond dust rings and were disappointed – perhaps not in the ring itself, but because their fiancé clearly hadn't listened to them, or didn’t know their style, or spent considerable money elsewhere, showing that his priorities weren’t on her.

Many of us know that the size or cost of a ring shouldn’t matter. But if you’re hoping to get engaged and get married, you’re probably also hoping for a ring that you really love, and if your fiancé really cares about a meaningful proposal (and not just getting you off his back), he’ll take that into account. If he’s aiming for a shut up ring, then anything at all will suffice. As cute a story as it might be, getting proposed to with a ring pop (like the kind Sophie Turner had at her Las Vegas wedding to Joe Jonas) probably isn’t the surprise you were hoping for, and that’s okay.

You Deserve a Man Who Wants To Marry You

Why does all of this matter? If you get a shut up ring, it’s still a ring and still a proposal, right?

There’s no denying that you got the ring and you got the man. But you’re also getting what might be years of resentment, bitterness, and eventual heartbreak. As one TikTok user explains, there’s not just such a thing as a shut up ring – there’s a shut up marriage too. She reveals that she got a shut up ring (which happens to be a diamond dust ring, by the way) and that they went through with their marriage. They also had kids and eventually divorced.

Although the man giving you the shut up ring might not have what it takes to end things when he should – i.e. when you really want to get married, but he doesn’t – that doesn’t mean he won’t summon the courage one day. And when he does leave, you might already be married with children, meaning that he won’t just be leaving you, but leaving your family.

Over time, you might also realize that he didn’t actually want to get married – he just wanted you to stop asking or dropping hints or throwing him meaningful glances when other people got married. At that point, you might even decide to leave him before he leaves you, but not before the both of you inflict significant emotional damage on one another.

You might think that if he proposes, he wants to marry you. But how invested is he in proposing? Does he care about setting a date, the rings you like, or getting on well with your family? Does he only want to live together to see if things work out before putting a ring on it, or does he complain about marriage when he’s made it clear he’s not the type? Is he the kind of man to embarrass you at the altar in front of your family and friends, or humiliate you at the reception even when you beg him not to?

If he proposes to you to get you to stop nagging him, or without the intention of staying married to you for the rest of his life, he doesn’t care for you the way you want him to. And if you accept his proposal, knowing or even suspecting that he’s being insincere, you might not care for yourself as much as you need to.

We all deserve a man who wants, overwhelmingly so, to marry us. We should settle for nothing less, in fact. And it shouldn’t need to be said that even if you get a shut up ring, you don’t need to go through with it. From a big picture perspective, it’s always preferable to give a ring back rather than to spend thousands on a divorce attorney.

Closing Thoughts

It shouldn’t take your boyfriend 10 years or even five years for that matter to figure out if he wants to marry you. Don’t settle for the shut up ring when you deserve so much more.

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