For centuries, the wedding ring has been a symbol of eternal love and faithfulness to another, an outward sign of an inward bond. As such a powerful and recognised symbol, we cannot help but notice those that go bare-fingered despite having taken wedding vows. Is removing the ring before a night out on the town an indication of a dying relationship or the dying significance of this piece of jewellery? And is there a link between those that remove their ring before a night out and those that cheat?

The psychology behind the wedding ring

Swedish researchers, Tobias Uller and Christoffer Johannson, compared social attitudes towards those that do and don’t wear their bands of commitment. They studied the reactions of women who briefly conversed with men they’d never met before. The researchers suspected that ringed men would be seen as more desirable than un-ringed men. Whether they reached this hypothesis due to humankind’s classic tendency to want what we cannot have or, on a more primitive level, women are more attracted to men that are considered ‘mate-able’ by other females, their hypothesis was inaccurate and there was actually no significance as to whether or not they wore a ring. Therefore, they concluded, rings didn’t matter.

Andrew Harell, social psychologist in the University of Alberta, had contrasting findings. In his study, he looked at adults in supermarkets with children and how far the children were allowed to wander out of sight. Harell found that 14% of adults lost sight of their little ones at least once- perhaps due to the child’s excitement when faced with their favourite sugary treats. Harrell found that attractive young men and women without wedding rings lost sight of their children significantly more than any other category of person, and thus concluded that being attractive, young and ringless indicates a lack of commitment to one’s family, including care of the children.

Do people admit to removing their wedding ring?

According to recent studies, 20% of young married Brits have admitted removing their wedding rings, with men more likely to do so before a night out and women after an argument with their spouse.

Statistics show that although today’s younger generation are more likely to wear wedding rings than previous generations, those under 40 are also more likely to remove it, the most prevalent reason being to gain more attention from the opposite sex. In a ‘night out’ scenario, 1 in 8 people thought they would be considered ‘boring’ if people knew they were married, whilst in a professional context, over 30% of people felt they had a better chance of winning business without their band.

Despite the increasing ‘ring-removal’ habit, women and men under the age of 40 attached more significance to wearing a wedding band and were also more likely to be hurt by their partner removing theirs. The study indicated that 28% of women found it disrespectful if their partner refused to wear their ring or took it off.

20% of women under 40 thought that married men who did not wear their ring did not take their marriage seriously.  Older women, however, placed much less importance on ring-wearing, either for themselves or their husbands. Over 30% of married couples saw the ring as a form of assurance that their partner would not cheat as it indicated commitment. However, as senior partner, Henry Brookman, observes, ‘wearing a ring is a symbol, not a guarantee for a strong, lasting relationship. Couples cannot rest easy just because their partner wears one.’

Whilst married men who wore their rings felt they got more attention from the opposite sex, women reported getting less. But nearly two thirds said that when others saw their ring, it was considered a sign of a committed relationship.

Relationship expert, Judy James, states that a ring is a ‘message to the public, but an even stronger one to the person they are married to.’ Taking off your ring can be a sign of a lack of commitment, a mark of finality on a relationship or an indication of wanting to be socially regarded as single.  Whatever the reason, the ring is clearly heavily significant but no sure-fire way to ensure a lasting love.

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