He holds a giant stuffed bear in one hand and a sign in the other. The shiny white poster board decked out in bright block letters spells “Prom would be unBEARable without you.” As he approaches her and begins to read the sign, everything seems to be going smoothly. Suddenly, she rushes into the nearest bathroom, her face a deep scarlet red. He wonders what he did wrong. So do the hundred or so students from first lunch who had crowded around to watch the entire spectacle.

For those of you who don’t know, prom plus proposal equals promposal. If you ask someone to prom, you are “promposing” to them.

Grace Mennerick
The humiliation that comes with a public promposal rejection can sting, especially if the person asking spent a lot of money on it.

Usually, though, people use the term to indicate that you actually put forth effort into the question. From the first recorded promposal in 2001 to today, promposals have grown from simply asking your person of choice to elaborate schemes that often involve food, balloons and gifts. In 2015, an annual nationwide survey by Visa, Inc. reported that the average promposal in the Midwest cost over $200. This, surprisingly, is the lowest average recorded across all U.S. regions. While many people appreciate a grand, romantic gesture, asking someone in front of a large number of people may not be the best way to go.

Not everyone is a fan of the spotlight. Many shy people dislike the extra attention that comes with a promposal. Reactions to this attention vary, and a fight-or-flight response can cause your crush to flee the scene, leaving you surrounded by dozens of people who witnessed what they will assume is rejection. It might not turn out that way if the person you promposed to comes back later on and explains why they left, but it’s better to be safe and prompose out of the public eye.

The person you want to ask might already have a date or even be in a relationship. Often, couples assume they will be going together and don’t feel the need to formally ask. Before promposing to your girlfriend or boyfriend in front of a crowd, make sure that they wouldn’t feel embarrassed by it first. This can be difficult without spoiling the surprise. People further along in their relationships might be able to tell on their own, but if that’s not you, try asking what your significant other’s friends think about it. The seriousness of a relationship affects promposals as well. Should a promposal be more extravagant if you’ve dated someone for a week versus a month? A month versus a year?

Moral of the story: don’t embarrass your crush or yourself. Make your promposal personal.

Sparing no expenses on your promposal can make some people feel obligated to accept, regardless of their feelings about you. If your crush truly wants to go with you, price shouldn’t matter. Don’t be that person who wastes $50 on an unsuccessful promposal. But also, don’t be the person who says yes just because someone spent a lot of money. It takes a certain level of finesse to leave these situations gracefully, and if you don’t think you can handle rejection, a private promposal takes away a bit of that pressure.

Promposing away from the masses has benefits of its own. It can feel special just to open the front door and see your friend or significant other with a bouquet of flowers. A more intimate setting allows the promposal to become more personal, which some people value more than the extravagance that usually accompanies asking in public. At KHS, faculty members have seen their share of promposals. Julie Healey, library assistant, remembers a time when a boy used spine labels on fiction books to spell out “Will you go to prom?”

There are success stories about both public and private promposals, but the common thread between them all is the people asking knew their dates well. Moral of the story: don’t embarrass your crush or yourself. Make your promposal personal.