Dear Wendy: “What Should I Do With My Engagement Ring?”

A little over a year ago, I was engaged to a douche of a guy. He lied to me, took me for granted, cheated, and generally treated me terribly for the 2.5 years we were together. When he broke off the engagement, he began to freak out about how he had messed things up and how guilty he felt, and this threw him into a period of extreme instability. He was so emotionally sensitive that I didn’t dare try to offer the ring back. He was absolutely destroyed when I tried to give him his house key back, so I was afraid to try to offer back something as emotionally loaded as the engagement ring. Now, this ring was, of course, very cheap. We’re talking approximately $100 cheap. I have no interest whatsoever in keeping this ring. He has now calmed down and moved on, and I have moved on, and I want to get rid of this ring. It is just sitting in a box in a drawer and I want it gone. Would it be out of line to try to give it back after all this time? There’s no chance I’ll be able to sell it for anything much (pretty worthless), I can’t think of anyone I want to give it to, and I just can’t keep it anymore. What do I do? — Ring Around the Roses

The discussion of whether to give or not give back the ring after a broken engagement isn’t new around here. We had a debate on the issue last year and the general consensus was:

“If he cheats or breaks off the engagement for a reason that doesn’t pertain to something bad that she did, she should be able to keep the ring, if she wants. However, if the engagement is called off by mutual decision, if she breaks it off on her own accord, or if she cheats or does something pathological, the ring goes back to him.”

That said, most people would agree that the ring is rightfully yours to keep and do whatever you please with. I wouldn’t recommend giving the ring back to your ex since, as you say, he broke up with you, the ring isn’t worth much, and you’ve both moved on. Tracking him down to give him the “emotionally loaded” ring would only re-open a can of worms you’ve managed to close. Why go there?

If it’s closure you’re seeking, there are a number of ways you can ceremoniously get rid of the ring without getting back in touch with your ex. First, there are a number of websites like where jilted luvahs can list and sell baubles from their exes. Even if you’re sure you wouldn’t be able to sell it for much, it may be cathartic to list the piece with a little blurb about your ex or your relationship. If you’re certain trying to sell it would be a waste of time, you can take it to a jeweler and have it melted down and made into a pendant for a necklace. Do a little research and see if there’s a jewelry store in your area that accepts trade-ins where you could swap your ring for a cute costume piece — or at least put it toward the cost of something new.

Rather than throw the ring off a bridge like you might be tempted to do, you could drop off the ring with a charity like Goodwill, or see if there’s a women’s shelter or charity that would take the ring — although, if it isn’t worth much, they may not. Finally, it might be kind of fun to send the ring off “into the universe,” sticking it in an envelope and leaving it a public place for someone to find. You could leave a note in the envelope explaining what the ring represents to you and how you hope that it brings better luck to whoever finds it. Whatever it is you decide to do, the act should leave you with a feeling of peace and closure; if you can have fun in the process or give someone else a little thrill, even better. Readers, do you have any suggestions for RATR?

I’m 28, my boyfriend is 27, we’ve been best friends for 15 years and started dating just a couple months ago. He’s everything I want after a string of bad relationships. He lives several hours away, though, and so obviously the next step is to try and move to the same city. He’s in school, but as it turns out, there’s a similar program to the one he’s studying in my city, so we could be living together as soon as next August. The issue at hand now, though, is that he’ll be in school full-time and the amount he can contribute financially will be limited. I’m not rich by any means, but I can afford to pay rent and bills on my own. I don’t mind paying the bulk of our combined living expenses while he finishes school as long as he contributes something. We’re both concerned that this might take a toll on the relationship while he finishes school, but I don’t believe it’s going to be anything we can’t move past as it’ll be temporary. Plus, I figure as his starting salary will be about 50% more than mine, it will eventually even out. We’ve got nearly a year to figure this out, so by then I feel like we’ll have a better idea of how it will all work.

My mother, however, has a different view. She and I have always been exceptionally close, more friends than mother and daughter, and she loves my boyfriend like one of her own — she’s known him as long as I have. But she said she’d lose respect for me if I let my boyfriend live off me like that. I’m not asking her to pay for us, so I rather resent that she has any sort of problem with it. Am I right to find this overly interfering of her? I still want to share my life with her, but there’s a difference between giving advice and telling me what to do. I’m already potentially making a really scary step in the near future, and I know I’m going to be dealing with some insecurities, so I’m scared she’s going to boss me into creating problems in my relationship that aren’t there. It makes me sad to think that because she can’t keep her boundaries in check that I’m going to have to scale back our relationship. — Love My Nosy Mom

If you live on your own and you pay your own bills, your mother can’t tell you what to do. And from your letter, it doesn’t sound like she is. She’s simply telling you she’ll lose respect for you, which is a crappy thing to say, but it doesn’t seem indicative of her interfering or crossing boundaries. From your reaction to her I wonder if deep down you think she might have a point. After all, you’ve only been dating this guy for two months, and by your own admission you have a recent string of bad relationships, which may be a sign of poor judgment and decision-making on your part. Maybe your mom is simply concerned that this relationship is moving a little fast given your history with these sorts of things.

You didn’t ask advice about this, but I’ll give you some anyway: Wait until he graduates to move in together. If your boyfriend transfers schools and then moves in with you and things don’t work out, where is he supposed to go? Transfer back to his old school? That’s not going to be easy, or even possible. Don’t underestimate the pressure of living together after being long-distance. It’s a huge, huge change and while it may work out splendidly for you two — and I genuinely hope it does — if it doesn’t, you’re both going to be up sh** creek if your boyfriend has transferred schools, needs to finish his program in your city, and can’t afford to live on his own. Trust me, that is not the kind of pressure you want to put on your relationship. So, either wait until he finishes his program at his current school, or figure out a way he can live on his own (or with roommates) in your city until he graduates and gets a job. If he’s able to support himself where he lives now — or has the luxury of living at home rent-free — it’s probably best he remain where he is if moving means he’ll be mostly dependent on you.

Now, about your mom. As I said earlier, she can’t tell you what to do; she can only voice her opinion, just as I have done here. Her opinion, I’m sure, is more loaded because she’s your mom. But it’s your choice whether to let her get to you and affect your decisions or to let her remarks roll off your back. If she’s really getting under your skin, you have to ask yourself if it’s because there’s a grain of truth and reason in her words. If there is, maybe there’s an opportunity for your to learn from her wisdom, assuming she has some. If she’s getting under your skin simply because she’s your mom and it’s annoying to be a grown woman and have your mother tell you how to live your life, it’s probably time for you to be more selective in what you share with her. It doesn’t mean you have to “scale back” on your relationship, but you probably should scale back on the amount of details you share with her concerning your private life.

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