Katie Byrne - Marry me or else: Confessions from women who want the ring, and aren’t afraid to issue an ultimatum
I've been looking at Facebook engagement photos with a slightly wary gaze after discovering a thread about proposal ultimatums on the secret-sharing app Whisper.
It may be the worst kept secret of all, but it's still interesting to read confessions from women the world over admitting that they gave their partners ultimatums to get them down the aisle.
"I'm preparing myself to leave my boyfriend of three and a half years... he hasn't proposed to me and I'm so jealous it honestly breaks my heart when I see one of my friends get engaged or married," reads one post.
"My husband never told me he loved me and never actually proposed. I forced him to marry me because I was in a hurry to have kids. And I thought no one else would want to marry me," reads another.
Suffice to say, this isn't a new phenomenon. We've always suspected that some women had more of a hand in their 'surprise' engagements than they care to divulge. The only difference is that social media has now given them the space to anonymously debate the pros and cons of holding a man to ransom.
Modern couples may be bucking tradition on their wedding days, but there is still a time-honoured code of omertà around the proposal ultimatum. Besides, there is an entire spectrum of proposal pressure that runs the gamut from delicate hinting to indiscreet badgering.
Some employ subtlety and subterfuge, such as the bride-in-waiting who looks longingly at her friends' engagement photos and wonders - out loud and at length - if she'll ever get a chance to walk up the aisle too.
Others prefer a short, sharp shock. Using the tactics of terrorism, they issue the hostage with a demand to 'get down on one knee, motherf***er!', along with a non-negotiable 'walk date'.
The Whisper poster who wanted to have her birthday cake and eat it shows how it's done: "So I gave my boyfriend an ultimatum: be engaged by my birthday or move out," she writes. "We discussed it earlier and he's 'made his decision'. I'm terrified it's not the one I planned on."
The topic is often broached on wedding forums - usually by a woman who is wondering if the tactic is successful.
What's interesting is that while most women concede that they would have preferred the proposal to have come unprovoked, they don't regret their decision to engineer the process.
For the most part, they describe it as a "gentle push" - as though asking someone to spend three months salary on a ring and the rest of their life with you is as simple as reminding them to put the toilet seat down.
Then again, perhaps we ought to expect such euphemisms from the type of women who can feign surprise and squeal with delight when their hard-fought campaigns eventually procure a diamond.
David Hasselhoff was once asked what his biggest regret was in one of those Proust-style magazine questionnaires. His answer? "Never going down on one knee to ask someone to marry me without the feeling I was cornered into it. I've been divorced twice and both marriages began with a kind of ultimatum."
It was a candid revelation, and an insightful one too. The women who issue proposal ultimatums often preface their negotiations with the "If you truly loved me..." line.
Yet if these women truly loved their partners, they wouldn't deprive them of the expansion and evolution that occurs when a person makes a life-changing decision all by themselves.
It's not date night, lads
What is it with male journalists misconstruing the brief when they're asked to interview a beautiful young starlet, and handing in what reads like the first few pages of a private eye romance novel instead?
When Alex Bilmes interviewed Scarlett Johansson for Esquire many moons ago, he described her as "creamy and curvy" and portrayed their interview as an intimate get-together in the City of Light. "Autumn in Paris: sunshine and showers, pavements city-slick, puddles shimmering like party dresses..." Rich Cohen took a similar tack when he interviewed Margot Robbie for Vanity Fair last year. "We sat in the corner. She looked at me and smiled."
Clearly Rob Haskell missed the Cohen interview - and the subsequent controversy. Haskell couldn't resist setting up his meeting with Selena Gomez in this month's Vogue as a date.
"On an unusually wet and windy evening in Los Angeles, Selena Gomez shows up at my door with a heavy bag of groceries," he writes, before making the moment he put her apron on sound like something from an erotic fiction.
Men would do well to adhere to the first rule of journalism when interviewing beautiful young women: stick to the facts.