Recently one of my best friends got engaged and posted a picture of her engagement ring on Facebook. I congratulated her. She was quick to clarify in a comment that the ring wasn’t “the real deal”. It was just something temporary.

When I asked my friend why she had to explain that her ring wasn’t a diamond (Who’s business is that? I thought), she explained: “Because that’s the first thing women notice! It’s a big deal here!” By here, she meant the United States. She is originally from Peru where, as in many other Latin countries, a woman’s worth or a man’s love for her is not measured in carats.

Earlier today I found myself admiring online the engagement ring that Catherine Guidici received from her now fiancé Sean Lowe, on the TV show The Bachelor. It’s huge, it’s the real thing. But, is a diamond ring that resembles a sugar cube really the ultimate measure of a man’s love and commitment?

I recall an instance where a Venezuelan couple living in the States ran out to replace her engagement ring with one three times its size when they considered they were living the American Dream. They had made it. They had been married a few years, so I asked them, “Why buy another ring? What was wrong with the first one?” I thought it looked just fine.

“Because I want everyone to know how much I love her,” the husband said. “And here, size matters.” His wife was thrilled with her new bling and I took plenty of pictures of it for her to keep. Well, three years later, he left her for an old college flame. And he left her with two babies in tow. I don’t know what happened to the ring. I hope she sold it and used the money to go to an expensive spa. She probably needs that now more than expensive jewelry.

Which brings me to question the reasons behind women getting hooked on shows like The Bachelor, and the whole concept of engagement rings.

Whether we admit it or not, most women are suckers for a proposal, ring and all, coming from the right guy. And I suspect Latinas are no different, even if in our countries of origin, the proposal is not such a big deal. Or any kind of deal at all.

I don’t consider my engaged friend less loved just because she is wearing a cubic zirconia nor do I believe that Sean Lowe’s love for Catherine Guidici, of The Bachelor is based on the size of that ring on her finger.

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And I certainly don’t think we owe anyone else an explanation as to why we wear or don’t wear a ring and there is no need to excuse the size or quality of the stone. In Europe and in Spain in particular, a usually demure wedding band is worn on the right hand, because most people are right-handed and that way it is sure to show. In the U.S. the engagement ring and wedding bands are worn on the left hand. I have decided to wear my rings on whichever hand I fancy on any given day, and no, people will not know my marital status by looking at my fingers.

Maybe I’m just saying this because I never got an engagement ring. I knew my ex-husband would not be able to afford something I liked, so I excused him from getting one. Plus we were married in Spain, so nobody thought it odd that I didn’t wear a ring on my finger until our wedding day.

When watching shows like The Bachelor, or any romance flick, I wonder…does anybody think beyond the proposal? It seems like the ultimate accomplishment. I’m not so sure the women are imagining actually picking up the bachelor’s dirty socks off the floor, having spats, being woken up by snoring or watching him grow a beer belly five years into the marriage or not showing up for dinner. Is this kind of show stereotyping us into traditional gender roles and perpetuating a fallacy? Why do we need to be waiting for a guy to “pick us” and decide whether we’re worth spending a small fortune on so we can show off our diamond? Which incidentally, is no guarantee that we’ll actually marry the guy and even less that we’ll live happily ever after if we do.

And yet, maybe I’m just like any other woman. Perhaps I really do want a guy to kneel down in front of me and pop the question. I just don’t care whether the ring is a diamond or a tin foil stand-in. All I really want is love.

What is your take on all this? I’m really curious.