1. Archive


Q: Two and a half years ago, I broke off an engagement because my fiance was lying to my face and going behind my back with a former girlfriend. As to what he was doing with her, I do not know, since there were no witnesses.

He knew and agreed that it was inappropriate for him to do what he did, and that he would not want me to do likewise. It was painfully clear to me that I could not trust him and that I should not marry him.

Because of the circumstances, I did not offer the ring back. I felt that his actions had broken our engagement, and I deserved to keep the ring. Was this wrong?

Now, two and a half years later, he asks me about the ring. He says he doesn't necessarily want it back, but he might buy it from me. I assume that he is ready to propose to his current girlfriend. It seems as if he has forgotten that I have any feelings at all.

What do you think about this? I have sold the ring. He wishes to know how much money I received. He has not asked me to give him the money, but does he deserve to receive it?

Also, I was the second recipient of this ring - he had proposed to his previous fiancee with the very same. If he could have, he would have proposed to a third woman with the same ring. Is that done?

A: You should make up your mind whether you believe that an engagement ring is a talisman, forever sacred to the engagement it symbolized, or a form of bail to be forfeited by the one who got away.

Miss Manners prefers the former definition. You, evidently, do not, as you accepted a ring that had symbolized a previous engagement. When you ask the question of whether this multiple use of a ring "is done" (and evidently it is), you must ask yourself whether there is a difference between offering it and accepting it.

You also failed to do the decent thing when your engagement ended - to fling it back at him in distaste. Flinging back the money is not as satisfactory, particularly at this late date, but since you no longer have the ring, it would be the only proper way left to show your contempt.

No flower of chivalry

Q: How would one respond to a high school senior prom date who asked, "Since we're just going as friends, do you still want me to buy a corsage?"

To my knowledge, a corsage is not a romantic gift, but a formal accessory. Just the same, if one would like a corsage, how can one respond to such a question when it is so obvious that the date would rather not buy a corsage? In return, does one not have to buy a boutonniere for the date?

Is the date being disrespectful for not buying a corsage?

A: Never mind the respect issue, an accusation of which would soon take the friendship out of this arrangement. If it will embarrass you to go corsage-less, Miss Manners suggests saying, "Well, it's customary."

Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.