Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“When Does an Engagement Ring Become YOURS?”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss the etiquette of returning an engagement ring, dating someone you’re not attracted to, and when to end an LDR.

I was married five years ago, and the engagement and wedding rings I received from my now-ex husband belonged to his mother and grandmother, respectively. I know that when an engagement ends, it is customary for the bride-to-be to offer to give the ring back. But what is the protocol if you are married? When my ex and I split, he demanded my rings back, and I readily obliged. At the time I didn’t think twice because the rings belonged to his family before I had them and because I was anxious to be rid of any reminder of what was a very hurtful and ugly break-up.

Now I have been with my current boyfriend for almost four years, and we are planning to start a family soon. When we recently went ring shopping, it made all of the memories of my first engagement come flooding back. I ask this now not because I wish I had kept the rings, but because I wonder if my ex was out of line in demanding them back. I would most certainly have offered to give them back because they were his family’s, but shouldn’t the choice have been mine to make, not his to demand? Wendy (and Wendy-followers): at what point do your engagement and wedding rings become YOURS? — Aisle Bound Again

I answered a very similar question here in which I said that it would be the kind thing to return a family heirloom ring so it remains in the family. In your case, the ring was definitely yours and returning it was your decision to make, but you did the kind thing — despite not being asked kindly — in returning it to your ex so that he could pass it down to the next generation in his family.

Even though I’m still young and in college, when it comes to relationships, I am looking for something serious and stable. I have a friend whom I had sex with a few months ago — for me, it was a drunken rebound. He immediately wanted more, but I just wasn’t attracted to him, and I knew it was too early for anything anyway. Well, he has a great personality and we get along well, and for weeks, I have been thinking more and more about him. We’ve made plans to hang out again soon. I’m still not attracted to him all that much, but I’m okay with that. And it’s not really about the sex; it wasn’t that great anyway. But, he’s always treated me the way I deserve, and I know he cares about me a lot, even after I showed interest in someone else. My question is: is it unfair of me to possibly start dating him if I’m not really attracted to him? — Weak Attraction

Well, you never know: your attraction may grow as you get to know him. But if it doesn’t after, say, a few more weeks, you really shouldn’t lead him on. Let him know you enjoy spending time with him, but only as friends.

A few months ago, I ended a friendship with a dear long-time friend because of how she was treating me. The back story is that my ex and I set her up with his best friend. A couple of years later, I broke up with my ex. This resulted it in her choosing to be more loyal to him because of her relationship. I started dating a new man (who I am still with) and she refused to hang out with us. I got fed up of being ignored after always being there for her when she needed it, so I ended the friendship. It was horribly messy.

Last night, I was browsing around Facebook, and saw on her profile that she and her boyfriend broke up. They were together for a really long time and were such a strong committed couple, that I know she must not be taking this very well. Do I reach out to her just to see how she’s doing? Or should I respect the termination of our friendship and just let it be? — Facebook Friend

Well, I’m of the thought that one shouldn’t be Facebook friends with someone he or she wouldn’t be real-life friends with, so if you indeed are friends on Facebook — and, hell, even if you aren’t — reach out to your (former) friend and let her know that you’re thinking of her. The worst that will happen is she’ll ignore you, in which case she’s the one who looks like an asshole, and the best that can happen is this gives you an opportunity to repair your friendship and be there for someone who might need you.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half. We get along very well, and generally make each other very happy. We met in grad school, and he got a permanent job last November in a city about 3.5 hours away from where I am finishing school. We try to spend the weekends together as often as we can, and so far our long distance relationship has been okay. I applied for jobs where he lives now, but did not receive any offers. I applied for every posted position around the country, and I only received a job offer in a place that is a 12 hour drive away! It’s my dream job, just not my dream location.

My boyfriend refuses to consider moving to my new city, because it is too cold there. We have agreed to continue dating long distance. I know you have written about how important it is to have an end date where both people actually end up in the same location for a long distance relationship to work, but it seems improbable that we could both find new jobs in a location that is warmer. Is there any hope for our relationship when he refuses to consider moving to me, and I can’t move to him without giving up my career? — Career or Love?

Unfortunately, it sounds like there isn’t much promise for your relationship if neither of you is willing to move/give up a dream career to be with the other. It sucks, but I’d advise you to cut your losses now and focus on making a new home for yourself in your new city. Maintaining an LDR takes a TON of energy and commitment and if you aren’t committed to being in the same place in, say, the next two years, there’s really no point to drag yourself through such a draining experience.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

14 comments… add one
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    Skyblossom February 4, 2011, 9:12 am

    LW4 There seems to be no future in your relationship so no point in continueing.

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    Skyblossom February 4, 2011, 9:14 am

    LW3 Your friendship ended because it wasn’t working. She wasn’t a nice person and wasn’t there for you in the long term. Why rekindle that kind of friendship? I’d leave it alone, wish the best for her in your heart and go your own way.

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      LK7889 February 4, 2011, 12:56 pm

      I have to agree with you Skyblossom. If this woman was interested in being the type of friend that you deserved, LW3, she would not have picked sides after your breakup. While people can change, in my experience, they rarely do and if you rekindle this relationship, you are leaving yourself open to the same type of treatment that you received from her before. You need to decide whether this woman and the past you have with her is worth the risk.

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  • WatersEdge February 4, 2011, 9:58 am

    LW4- He won’t move to where you are because it’s too cold? I’m never a fan of picking weather conditions over people. A sunny day when you’re lonely is still a sucky day. I’m not sure he’s that into you.

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    • Wolvie_girl February 4, 2011, 10:14 am

      Agree 100% waters-edge! If his reason for not moving was b/c he was in his dream job, maybe…but it’s too cold?!?!?! If he was interested in a future with you, weather would not be a deal-breaker.

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    • Sarah February 4, 2011, 10:22 am

      My guy could move to Alaska and I would follow him. Not sure the LW has any commitment there.

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    • baby.blanka February 4, 2011, 10:56 am

      Totally agree! I could *almost* understand if it was because he could not leave his job – or the city they are going to be located in does not really offer a lot of opportunities for him – but seriously… if your main reason is because it is too cold, there is something wrong! My BF and I dream of moving to a desert home all of the time but can’t even commit to that because our families are both here (in the cold). Even cold parts of the country have beautiful days and things to appreciate… if winter is unbearable to you then save during the rest of the year and take a long vacation in January.

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  • ArtsyGirly February 4, 2011, 4:25 pm

    LW1- It sucks that your ex didn’t know you well enough to understand that you would give back his family’s rings without hostility, but I would put it behind you and best of luck with your new marriage!

    LW2 – You are too young to be settling for a relationship you don’t find fulfilling. You might just need to move on so you don’t end up hurting a person that cares deeply about you.

    LW3 – Was there any justification for the friend standing by your ex? If yes then cut her some slack, it not then it was a toxic friendship.

    LW4 – Dump the chump – I hate the cold and am dealing with 6 inches of ice at this moment. Either he needs to grow a pair and commit to moving near you or you need to end the relationship. What a whiner.

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  • Chantelle February 4, 2011, 5:57 pm

    LW4-the literal definition of a fair weather boyfriend. Only there when he knows it will be good. It seems as though there is very little placement on the big picture. One of you may not be in your dream career immediately when moving for the other but, I’m sure that in time you would both be happy.

    A relationship with love requires sacrifice from both parties. You can determine where you draw the line, like not giving up careers for one another but then why continue to be with that person?

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    sobriquet February 4, 2011, 10:56 pm

    Career or Love- What happens if you move and realize you hate the cold weather, or hate your job for whatever reason? For all you know, this could be a temporary move for you. Why not give it some time to figure out where you think you’ll be in a couple years before throwing away your relationship? Continue applying for jobs in warmer climates and see what happens.

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  • Catie8 February 5, 2011, 9:22 am

    To LW1 (and all other ladies out there) – after working in a jewelry store for several years I have heard some rules for such ring issues. If a man gives you a ring on a traditional gift-giving holiday, it is a GIFT and, as such, you’re not required to return it. Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or your birthday all work for these events. Any other event, and the rules get a bit flimsier.

    Of course, if you feel obligated to give the ring back because of whatever reason (heirloom, etc.), then that’s an individual’s prerogative, especially depending on circumstances. I think that LW1 did the right thing in returning the ring, but if it’s a ring that is perhaps purchased by both of you (lots of couples doing it these days) then I would say that ladies should keep it. All statistics these days say that women emerge from marriages and relationships in far worse financial condition than when they entered it. A piece of jewelry can be a small bit of protection.

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  • throwrock February 5, 2011, 6:53 pm

    LW2 —if there is no physical attraction even after sex, it most likely won’t grow into something. Although keep in mind the sex might get a whole lot better after you are more comfortable with the guy!!

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  • Red_Lady February 5, 2011, 7:30 pm

    @LW4 – establishing a career is pretty important in your early/mid 20’s. If you two can commit to a LDR for a year or two, you might be in a better place in your careers and be able to transfer or get a new job nearer each other easier.
    But if he seriously didn’t want to think about moving just because of the cold weather? MOA!

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  • blackbird February 6, 2011, 2:54 am

    My boyfriend isn’t my “type” at all, but now I think he’s the sexiest man on the planet. When we first met I didn’t consider him attractive, and after we started hanging out I became more and more attracted to him. He treats me the way I’ve always wanted to be treated, and I’ve never been more comfortable with someone. Sometimes, these things can develop.

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