The Surprising Story of Hillary Clinton Rejecting Bill (Twice!) Before They Married

What can we say about Bill and Hillary Clinton that hasn’t already been said? They are effectively a study in contrasts. For example, they are simultaneously one hell of a team, but they love operating independently. And they seem fiercely faithful to each other…even though Bill has tested that faith in some very high-profile ways.

Perhaps the only thing more surprising about everything the Clintons have managed to accomplish together is that they very nearly didn’t get married in the first place. As it turns out, Hillary Clinton rejected two different marriage proposals from Bill Clinton before finally saying yes.

What’s the story behind these proposals? What made Hillary keep saying no, and why did she finally say yes? Keep reading to discover the answers!

The Clintons have been together a very long time

Chances are that you can’t remember the last time you didn’t think of Bill and Hillary Clinton as a couple. There is a reason for that, of course: the two got married way back in 1975. And despite affairs and alleged affairs (more on this later) that we might have expected to drive these two apart, they have stuck it out through the proverbial thick and thin.

At some point, the fact that they remained together so long despite some major friction and the fact that they seemed to be drifting in different directions in their lives became downright impressive no matter your politics. It’s a bit aspirational to lovers wondering if they can go the distance. At this point, if Bill and Hillary can make it work, we’re confident that anyone can make it work!

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Hillary’s trust in Bill Clinton was put to the ultimate test

If you mention Bill Clinton and the word “affair” in the same breath, most people will think you are referring to Monica Lewinsky. Obviously, this was Bill Clinton’s highest-profile alleged affair: it resulted in him being impeached and he narrowly avoided getting removed as president for officially lying about the relationship with Lewinsky.

However, Monica Lewinsky was merely the highest profile of Bill Clinton’s alleged affairs. Both before and after that, there were a number of other accusations of infidelity and sexual misconduct from a variety of women, including from Paula Jones who alleged Clinton had harassed her when he was governor of Arkansas.

Throughout all of this, Hillary Clinton surprised the world by standing by her man, and they are still together to this day. Some cynics think this is because the two are political operators who have realized they are stronger together than apart. Others think it may be the depths of genuine love that the two first explored back in the ‘70s.

When Bill met Hillary

For all his alleged indiscretions, Bill Clinton seemed genuinely passionate in discussing how he met Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. As Marie Claire reports, he told the crowd “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” he said, discussing their days together at Yale. “The first time I saw her, we were appropriately enough in a class on political and civil rights. She had thick blonde hair, big glasses, wore no makeup.”

That lack of makeup (really more a lack of pretense) didn’t seem to register to Bill because he realized it was something else making Hillary seem extra-attractive. “And she exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic,” he said. Understandably, it was only a matter of time before the two began dating.

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Their personal and professional lives became very close

Bill and Hillary Clinton soon began dating, but not before Hillary razzed her future husband a bit. As Newsner reports, Bill still has a very keen memory of the day they met. She caught him frequently looking in her direction from the other side of the law library. “Look, if you’re going to keep staring at me, and now I’m staring back. We at least oughta know each other’s name,” she began. “I’m Hillary Rodham, who are you?” 

The two began dating and even working together on George McGovern’s (ultimately failed) presidential campaign. Seeing how quite well they (literally) worked together, Bill decided to propose marriage to Hillary…and he didn’t exactly get the answer he wanted on the first or second try!

Hillary just kept rejecting marriage proposals

When Bill proposed to Hillary in 1973, she turned him down by saying that she needed more time. One year later, he popped the question again and got the same answer. Nobody but Hillary knew what she was thinking during these rejections until she finally opened up while talking to Lena Dunham.

As Today reports, Hillary told Dunham “I was terrified about losing my identity and getting lost in the kind of wake of Bill’s force-of-nature personality.” This makes sense, really: she also had her own political ambitions, and she didn’t want to sideline them by marrying a similarly ambitious man.

However, Bill most likely won her over with the graceful way he responded to the second rejection. “Well, I’m not asking you again until you’re ready to say yes.” Reassured that he wouldn’t necessarily push the issue or get in the way of her own big dreams, Hillary eventually said “yes,” and the two got married in 1975. The rest, as they say, is history.

She said yes, and the rest is history

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