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What is the Meaning of a Promise Ring?

Today, you hear many young couples talk about a promise ring. This ‘promise ring’ is simply some sort of token piece of jewelry (not diamonds or even gold) that is exchanged as an intention to at some point marry. Essentially, the ‘meaning’ of a promise ring is exactly as it sound. It symbolizes a promise or commitment between two people or even a commitment to oneself. In fact, today in many high schools boys will give their class ring to their girlfriend to wear as a promise ring, or display that the two are a couple – which means that the idea of a promise ring is not exclusive to marriage. And many other people wear promise rings of a different sort as a reminder of a promise they are making to themselves.

There is a long history of promise rings that dates back to antiquity. In ancient times, promise rings were associated with betrothals, which was literally a contract that was made before a couple was married by the parents of the bride and groom. Gimmal rings, popular during the 16th century were similar prior to marriage and were worn by both the male and the female prior to marriage as an outward display that they were already taken (or promised to another person). Of course, today, promise rings have taken on all sorts of new meanings, individual and personalized to the person wearing the ring.

One of the most important factors or giving or receiving a promise ring is the understanding behind the ring. If one person thinks that the ring means it is a promise of marriage in the future, while the other only things it is a symbol of a current commitment, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings could obviously occur. So before gifting or accepting the promise ring (especially in romantic situations), it is important that each person have a clear understanding of the exact meaning of the ring.

The Pre-engagement Ring

That being said, one of the most common promise rings is the pre-engagement ring. This ring symbolizes a vow or commitment for the couple to get engaged and eventually married in the future. This is a fairly common practice with people that are too young to marry, are in college, or who have chosen to live together and want some outward symbol of their relationship. Eventually, the general assumption is that the promise ring will be replaced by the engagement and wedding ring.

Another form of a promise ring that is gaining popularity again, is promise rings of purity. The purity promise rings are often given by parents, or bought by individuals who are making a personal promise to remain abstinent until the day that they are married. As promiscuity in western culture is becoming less fashionable according to recent surveys of teenagers, promise rings of purity are becoming more and more popular. Many people also see the purity promise rings as a commitment to God, and to their chosen religion to follow the course of sexuality that is considered acceptable by their religion.

Promise rings are often gifted and received by best friends. Today, there are many different kinds of promise rings that are exchanged between friends who feel an extremely close bond with one another and are making a very public display of their friendship. These promise rings between friends have nothing to do with romantic relationships and instead are a promise of always being there for one another.

It is also becoming popular for people with all sorts of religious beliefs, to wear personal promise rings that symbolize their religious or group affiliation. For instance, people that are involved in things like AA, or other new age groups may wear promise rings to remind themselves on a daily basis of their devotion to a certain task or spiritual belief.

The good thing is that promise rings can virtually be worn on any finger. While the left ring finger is considered the finger of love and affection because of the ‘vein of love’ that runs through it, there are no rules when it comes to which finger you should wear a promise ring on. For those that are romantically involved, and are using the promise ring as a vow to engage or marry in the future, wearing it on the left ring finger makes sense. However, there are no specific rules, and you can choose to wear a promise ring on any finger that feels right to you.

The nice things about promise rings today, is that each and every one of us can find a piece of jewelry to either be given away or kept for ourselves, that reminds us of a commitment (or promise) that we have. Some people wear promise rings to keep them motivated to keep trying harder and be the best person that they can be. Others wear promise rings as a way to symbolize the future of a current romantic relationship. While still others may wear a promise ring as a sign of chastity, or of a commitment to remain sober. Still more couples may gift promise rings years after marriage as a way to renew their vows and reaffirm their love to one another. The idea of promise rings, while nothing new – is something that quite possibly can fit into anyone’s lifestyle.

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