There are roughly 55 million single women in the US, many of them with-it, smokin' and smart, with their finger on the pulse of life.
But when that certain finger is ringless, even the most self-assured single dreads the shame and rebuke of disappointed family during a visit home.
The holidays are known to cause stress to scores of single women in the throes of 'The Panic Years', who dub the annual visit-cum-interrogation the 'Thanksgiving Third Degree'.
Now some women have admitted to buying fake, cheap 'engagement rings' just to prevent parents - and other overly-critical family members - from delivering ridicule and judgement over their single status.
It may sound like a slippery slope towards avoidance issues and other psychological problems – but if it muzzles them long enough without you getting grilled about why your boyfriend of three years hasn't proposed yet, it could be well worth the $30 investment.
Sometimes it's downright soul-crushing when you come home for the holidays empty-handed - literally - watching your family members' faces crumble in disappointment that you're back another year without any engagement bling.
Heather, a 31-year old lawyer from New York, was well on her way to being both unhitched and unhinged, thanks to her mother's persistent pestering about marriage.
She feared that the constant nagging could destroy not just her own sanity, but threaten her long-time relationship with her boyfriend, Tony, who was regularly interrogated about his intentions from his would-be mother-in-law.
Well aware that showing up without a ring for the holidays would taint the mood of the entire weekend, she became very resourceful.
'I got a fake ring for 30 bucks just to shut her up,' she said. 'It actually worked and it turned into a really great visit!'
Just three months later, Heather had a real ring to show off. Tony proposed on their own timetable - on Valentine's Day - and her mother was never the wiser.
2011-11-23 12:24 编辑：crystal156