For many people, proposals are supposed to be the kind of romantic whirlwind you've only ever previously experienced while reading fairytales. The love of your life gets down on one knee, triggering you to plummet into some kind of alternate universe where you're surrounded by rose petals, dimly-lit candles, heart-shaped balloons and general happy, warm feelings.
But if you think about it, the getting down on one knee bit is actually kind of odd. We get that it's tradition and stuff, but if you really think about it, what on earth has a man got to gain by hobbling down onto one knee? Aside from the fact it puts him at roughly the right height to literally reach for your hand in marriage, obviously.
Website Engagement Ring Bible recently looked into where the tradition came from, and explains that it "dates back to the days of knighthood, chivalry and formal courtship (i.e. medieval times and beyond)." Apparently:
"Knights would get down on one knee in front of their lord as a display of respect, obedience, and loyalty. It was also a common occurrence in religious ceremonies, and in those days marriage and religion were intrinsically linked. So when a courteous gentlemen was proposing to his lady, pledging his allegiance to her and declaring his undying love for her, getting down on one knee was the natural thing to do."
So there you have it: if your partner goes to the lengths of getting down on one knee to ask for your hand in marriage, what he's really trying to say is that he plans to be loyal, respectful, and do to what you say for the rest of time (that's the obedience bit). If only he knew what he was signing himself up to.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.