And then there are the guys who actually plan to slip something on their finger. Dan Utt, 25, who runs an after-school program in Cary, North Carolina, remembers when the feeling hit him. He was at the jewelry store with his girlfriend, Amanda, shopping for her engagement ring, he says, when "I kind of under my breath was like, 'I want one too.'" His decision to act on that impulse didn't go over too well in Morrisville, where he lives. "Some of the guys and girls I know have given me some grief," he says. "My boss was getting a lot of questions too. I told him that if anyone asks to jokingly tell them that we didn't think it was fair for her to have the only pre-wedding bling."

But if anything can lend this phenomenon more staying power than the ill-fated mandal, it's that women are beginning to protest at being the only ones identified as off the market. And strictly speaking, they have a point. "Otherwise, you're the only one marked," says Natalie Wigg-Stevenson (now happily married to Tyler). "I mean, if I can't be sneaky, neither can he."