Wait, Obama Proposed To Someone Before Michelle?!

Photo: Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images.
In the fairy-tale romance that we know as Once Upon the Obamas, Barack met Michelle and they lived happily ever after, right? Not so fast.
Brides reports that according to David Garrow's new book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, the former POTUS actually proposed to another woman before he met Michelle. Garrow explains that a combination of work-life balance, the pressures of politics, and, of course, true love, forced the couple to split, giving us the Barack and Michelle that we all know and love today.
In the book, Garrow interviews one of Barack's exes, who he dated on and off before going to law school at Harvard. "In the winter of '86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him," says ex Sheila Miyoshi Jager, reports The Washington Post. Jager was only 23 at the time and explained that her mother thought she was too young to get married. Jager says that she didn't refuse the proposal outright. She said, "Not yet."
Garrow goes on to paint a picture fit for a biopic — or a Shondaland drama, at least. The pressures of Barack's job and Jager's refusal to stall her own career ultimately led to the dissolution of the relationship. Add to that the fact that Jager is of Dutch and Japanese descent — "The lines are very clearly drawn [...] If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here," Garrow reports Obama telling a source. The author adds, "He felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his."
What does Jager think of the proposal now? Reflecting back on the moment, which occurred just as the two parted ways — he for Harvard while she headed to Seoul — she said, "Mostly, I think, out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future." The two continued to date on and off while Barack was at law school, but as fate would have it, he met a certain Michelle and the rest, well...you know what happened.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series