Should She Give the Ring Back? (The Engagement’s Off)

0 Posted by - March 1, 2010 - Uncategorized

Ring Back

I noticed something interesting the other day that I’m not sure anyone else caught. As I was reading through the comments on Thursday’s blog, “Do You Keep Relationship Mementos? (Metal Memories),” one in particular stood out.

NWSO regular, Elle, wrote:

“I have keepsakes such as cards, photos, movie tix, plane tix, items which remind me of a certain day/date, gifts like my iPod or my customized sneakers and of course my engagement ring. While I never look at them, I can’t get myself to get rid of them because, while I of course have the memories in my heart and mind, reminiscing gets a whole different quality (read: more detailed) when you actually have something tangible to look at and remind you of what love is like…”

Did you catch the part that stood out to me?


Well, I found the fact that Elle nonchalantly mentioned she still had her engagement ring immediately struck me as an interesting bit of information. Although I can’t recall the specifics, I know from some of her previous comments over the past year or so that Elle was engaged but things just didn’t work out.

With that said, I’m not picking on my girl Elle or trying to start no drama, but that little detail that was slipped into her comment triggered something in my over-analytical brain. Now, I’ve never been engaged (my faux proposal in high school doesn’t count) and if you read THIS, you know I have no idea how much a “decent” ring costs, but I’ll be damned if things fall apart and she keeps the ring.

I know some may feel it’s tacky to ask for an engagement ring back in the event of a breakup, but if we never make it down the aisle that symbol of our love needs be returned to sender giver.

Seriously, what is she going to do with it? I doubt very much that a woman would actually wear an engagement ring from a man she’s no longer with and it’s even less likely that keeping it around will spark many good memories. So I really wonder what’s the logic behind keeping an engagement ring if you’re no longer together.




A consolation prize?

Bump that! Recession or not, brothers save up for years and spend a lot of their hard earned cash to “put a ring on it.” Just because things didn’t work out between a man and his former fiancé shouldn’t mean that he has to start from square one.

Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see a few scenarios where a woman wouldn’t be readily eager to return a ring—like if he cheated or did some ultra-foul stuff—but even then I still feel she should give it back.

I mean, isn’t that what the average woman would do?

Like I said earlier, there’s not much a woman can do with an engagement ring that didn’t lead to a marriage. Wearing it would just seem weird. Keeping it a lock box just seems like a waste. And if it’s a family heirloom that’s just plain ol’ wrong.

So why not just give it back to the man?

That way he could get his money back and both of you could move on to bigger and better things. See, I’m all for keeping mementos but an engagement ring is one keepsake that need not apply.

If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it, but if you or I change our minds you better give it back.

All the fellas, if you hear me, put ya hands up.

Uh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh…

Do you think that a woman should give an engagement ring back if the wedding is called off? Does it matter who decided to breakup? Is it tacky for a man to ask for the ring back? Is it spiteful for a woman to refuse? Ladies, would you be upset if a man proposed with a ring that was initially intended for another woman? Regardless of what happens do you see an engagement ring as a “gift”? Do some women keep the ring as a way to get back at a man? Fellas, would you ask for the ring back or let your ex-fiancée keep it? Do you think it’s fair that a man can spend his saving on a ring in good faith only to see a woman keep it after the relationship dissolves?

Speak your piece…

Middle Finger ring

  • NWSO


    Just to make it clear, the “she” in title isn’t Elle. Elle was just my muse for this conversation in general so she’s not the focus of my thought process with the line of questioning I just spring boarded off her comment.


    It’s all love on this side :)

  • NWSO

    @Anonymous and Anon

    y’all know that anonymous names get hella confusing right? Is it really that hard to make up a name?


    I’m Just Saying

    May I suggest, Ms. X, Lady X, F-Him, Ring-A-Ling, lol

  • Anonymous

    Give the ring back Elle.

  • Anonymous

    If he broke off the engagement, she should get to keep the ring. If she broke it off, she should give it back.

  • Anon

    Wow, am I the first one?

    Well…as a person recently “unengaged” I have to say…I gave back EVERYTHING! I didn’t/don’t want shit around me at all that remotely reminds me of that man, least of all his RING.

    Women who “keep the ring” to me are sometimes suspect. I get spite (believe me) but for me – peace of mind and closure trumps spite at the end of the day. But that might just be me.

    I could have screwed over my bastard (lying, cheating, conniving, etc…) ex-fiance in a LOT of ways, but I didn’t want to stay in a cycle with him. I simply want my life back and my life pre-him was sans rocks (and stress) so good riddance to both.

  • Anon

    …oh and I HAVE to add….it is VERY, VERY, tacky to propose to a woman with an old ring from another woman…

    the ring is supposed to be selected with your CURRENT woman in mind, taking into consideration her taste and your budget. Would you like for a women to give you boxers she bought for another dude – even if he only wore them once? (that may not correlate, but you get my drift) It’s not right. Uhn-Uhn. No.

  • TBoogie

    Fine. This is the commenter formerly known as “Anon”
    ‘kay daddy?


  • da ThRONe

    I say just give it back. Just seems pointless to keep it IMO.

  • Love.Addict

    I wouldn’t want the ring. I would happily give it back. To me keeping it prevents you from moving forward with your life. That’s just my opinion. I see no need in asking for it back. To me he can’t do nothing more than she can with it.

  • legallybrown26

    First time comment…WHOO HOO! Couldn’t pass up this chance to comment, tho. I’m in my last semester of law school, and legally speaking, there are 2 ways to deal with this. In a “no-fault” jurisdiction, the ring is looked at as a “conditional” gift…meaning the woman does not have “legal” ownership of the ring until the condition precedent (i.e., the marriage) is met. That said, in those jurisdictions, the woman is legally obligated to give the ring back to the man (although I don’t know why he’d want it…unless there is a return policy, because I’m ALL about being green and recycling and whatnot…but THAT, my friends, is NOT a renewable good…but I digress).

    In jurisdictions that do not follow the “no-fault” standard, the person whose fault was the reason for the break-up of the engagement, relinquishes their entitlement to the ring. Now this, standard is VERY messy, and requires litigation and is therefore expensive, and it would be smarter for the person bringing the suit to just take the L in terms of the ring.

    As I live in a state that uses fault as the basis of determination of the ring ownership, if I were blatantly at fault for the break-up, I’d DEFINITELY give the ring back. However, if my fiance were at fault, I’d SO keep the ring! If it was worth a significant amount, I’d hock it and use the money for something important…like a down payment on a home or possibly paying down some of these student loans. *side eyes Sallie Mae* It it wasn’t worth much, I’d melt that bad boy down into a pendant or earrings or something. I mean seriously…WHAT is the man going to do w/ a tainted ring anyway???

  • Hiddenfreak

    I think that an engagement ring is a gift and its tacky as hell to ask for it back. I say keep it girl. It’s technically yours.

  • Tiffany

    As a woman who has been in this EXACT situation (of breaking off the engagement and keeping the ring), I don’t see anything wrong with it. I think that if it was a mutual decision and the relationship was ended on good terms, then she definitely should keep it.

    There is only one reason I feel that a woman should ever give back a ring and that is if she cheats. If she cheated, that means she didn’t love him in the first place, so of course he should get the ring back. All other circumstances, no dice.

  • THATgyrl

    I completely agree with TBoogie….formerly known as Anon…lol

    I don’t take proposals and marriage lightly so I wouldn’t get engaged to someone unless I was completely convinced that this was it…so if we never made it to the altar there had to be a really BIG reason. In which case I don’t want anything that reminds me of you.

    I know alot of females that don’t give the ring back, but they don’t keep it for a momento either… they usually sell the dayum thing and buy something they really want…

  • lola289

    Keep it…pawn it…. screw him! :)

    Only if he did sumthin foul….

    If not then keep the ring if its looks nice; give it back if its wack or a family keepsake….

  • LT

    If the break up was my fault, or it was mutual; then I’d give it back. If it was his fault, then it would depend on how the break up happened. If it was civil, I’d give it back. If it was an ugly break up, I’d sell it to finance a brief hiatus in the caribbean.

  • Classic Ruby

    @NWSO does the length of the engagement matter to you? Let’s say you were engaged for 8 years, built a life together perhaps buying a house together, joined your finances, maybe started a family, and then the engagement ended (for whatever reason), would this make a difference as to whether you think she should give the ring back? And you also say that if you don’t make it down the aisle you’d want the ring back….but what if you don’t remain married long…what if the marriage only lasts 6 months to a year? Would you want the ring back in this case as well? Would you think you have a right to ask for it back? Just wondering

    Having never been engaged, I can’t speak from personal experience per se, but having been in a long term relationship that ended I can certainly speculate what I would do…

    First of all, regardless of who was at fault, if the ring is a family heirloom I would give it back. That ring has more meaning to your family than it could ever have to me. But if the ring was purchased for me, there are certain conditions in which I would give it back, ones in which I would keep it as a “relationship memento” and ones in which I would hock the sucker and buy myself something sweet as a consolation prize.

    If I was at fault for the relationship ending (if I cheated – which wouldn’t happen because I just don’t cheat…but I’m just saying, if I decided it wasn’t working out because I fell out of love and I end up breaking his heart), or if the engagement was short lived for whatever reason so I had no real attachment to the ring or the engagement, then I would give the ring back.

    If we had a long engagement (we’re talking years and years here), or the engagement ended mutually and amicably and we remained on cool enough terms, or if it ended because he ends up breaking my heart because he falls out of love or cheats or otherwise betrays me but I still have happy memories revolving around the relationship and engagement, then I would keep the ring as a memento. If he did me real dirty, which also includes the betraying/cheating thing, and I feel animosity, hate, or something else equally negative and I know I can’t let it go, I’ll sell the ring and buy myself something ridiculous I wouldn’t otherwise splurge on.

  • God’s Gift…

    Pawn it and get the money!

  • N2Deep

    Two things:

    1. I wouldn’t give a family heirloom until we passed the last for more than a year or two test!! Then we can maybe renew vows and I surprise her.

    2. I feel like the ladies that said “I don’t want nothing to remind me of her ass” so she can keep it, pawn it, sell it or whatever.

    Besides these two things and anything legal, I don’t give things to make up or to persuade. I give things from the heart so once I give, it belongs to her.

  • Elle

    Errrrrrr …. ok. :|

    1. The ring didn’t even cost 50 bucks. So chill.

    2. I wasn’t the one who got on one knee to propose. It was his idea. But apparently I was more serious about it than he was since it was good enough of a reason to break up so he could screw some other chicks without having to feel bad about cheating on me. Had I broken off the engagement I would have given the ring back. Even if it was solely out of symbolic reasons or a guilty conscience.

    3. Why would I spend money on sending some ring which didn’t mean anything to him in the first place back across the ocean? Puhlease.

    4. I think it would be tacky of him to ask for a gift back. Since when do we return gifts once we break up? An engagement ring is just that, a gift. I see no difference. So now I have to give back my iPod and my sneaks too? Do I have to pay back all the meals and movie tickets he spent on me as well? When I give, I give from the heart. It is what I want to do for somebody at that moment. If I am given gifts with some sort of agenda in mind or only under certain conditions that person might as well keep them.

    Why would I care about a person’s finances or feelings who expressed the ultimate “Eff You!” towards me. I don’t owe him anything. No ring. No morals. No decency. Nothing. Nada. Niente. Zero. Nichts. Rien. None.
    Besides, while that ring may be stashed away somewhere it is an ultimate reminder of what I am not willing to do ever again.

  • Othaniel Cruickshank

    I was engaged myself and still have my engagement ring. I’m a total loser in this sense , I still put it on and hold my hand up toward the window and let the sunlight stream in and watch it sparkle :) .

    * Fantasy bubble popped*

    I do think a woman should return the engagement ring, it’s all apart of the promise to wed. If a marriage doesn’t take place, the ring should be returned. * sorry*

    I honestly tried to return mine but was told by my ex to keep it. He had no idea what he’d do with the ring , didn’t want to take a loss if sold, and wasn’t going t give it to another woman. It has good memories attached all around 1st tiime I got it and the classy 2nd time it was given back to me.
    I look at that ring and my heart skips a beat because it reflect on all the great times . My relationship died but my good memories haven’t. In the future, I might remix it ; necklace, earrings, etc, but am happy with it as is…..

    Now, If a man asked for it back , it should be returned but it would be soooooooooooooo tacky to give it to another girl. I’m not sure if that would even work because everyone is so different in terms of personal taste.

    • 1231289312

      He really loved you if your ex told you to keep it when you tried to return it.

    • 1231289312

      He really loved you if your ex told you to keep it when you tried to return it.

  • Ms Jay

    This is my first time commenting on this blog..although I have been reading it since August last year. I absolutely love it. Well done Ans.

    Back to the topic at hand. I would give back an engagement ring. What use will it be to me? Regardless on who ended the relationship or not.

    Funnily enough I have been in a similar situation where an engagement ring wasn’t involved but another ring was. And he asked to have it..even though it meant alot to me. I gave it but when we ended things i thought he would give it back considering how important it was to me. I even had to ask for it back and his response was “I want to keep it as a memory”

    I still haven’t got the ring back and its been 4 years. :\

  • NWSO

    @Classic Ruby

    Why is anybody “engaged” for 8 years? That’s almost a damn decade. Something ain’t right in that scenario. You know what you can do in 8 years? Get TWO diplomas/degrees. lol

    In my world if i was doing all that “building a life together” stuff we would have already been married early into that. I don’t believe in making all those financial ties if we ain’t hitched, just sounds messy to do with no tangible commitment cause until you’re actually married you can always just leave.

    Anyway, to answer you question I really don’t know. Honestly, it will always come down to the individuals and their particular situation and emotions. Setting the life together for 8 years is basically married to a degree so I guess I could part with it in that scenario, but I also think if I were the woman I would give it back as well. But of course the cause of the breakup plays a role in that decision.

    as for a short marriage, you did get married so as much as it sucks you completed your part of the contract. Let’s not forget that marriage is a CONTRACT—at least in our society that’s why you need a license approved by government. Love, however, is 100% free :)

    Oh and all the ladies talking about a engagement ring is a gift. HA! Not in my book, that’s a promissory note. Meaning I love you and wanna spend my life with you, your acceptance means you feel the same. As soon as you don’t (before walk the aisle) I need my joint back, return to sender.

    Thank you, see you around kid.

    Fellas, you with me?

  • MultipleHeart

    Ok, this is going to sound corny but this reminded me of something Kelly Taylor did in an episode of 90210.

    When her engagement to Brandon Walsh was over (she returned the ring to him) he went to exchange it for something new for his current girlfriend. Kelly went and bought the ring because she didn’t want to know that “someone one else was wearing her future” I think she wore the ring on a chain around her neck.

    When my engagement ended, I was the one that ended things and I was the one that decided to give the ring back. I kept for a while. 6 years of a relationship…yeah I wanted something to show for my loyalty. My fiancée didn’t ask for it back but I found myself staring at it, wearing it, doubting myself so much to the point that I HAD to give it back just so I could move on. I later found out that he sold it.

    Of course in true soap opera fashion Kelly gets over Brandon but I always thought that was such a touching thing she did.

    I’m a romantic at heart :-/

    My engagement ring was something I picked out, with my taste in mind. That ring was a true symbol of all I had worked towards for those 6 years. At the time I had no right to hold on to it for more than an hour let alone the few months after I ended things but at the time I just wasn’t ready to give up completely on the future I thought I would be having.

    But in the end I knew that giving the ring back was the right thing…now if we pooled our money together and paid for it…that would have been a whole other story!

  • TBoogie

    Wow…totally off topic, but I have to say it is pretty cathartic to read about all of these sisters who have been where I am now (un-engaged). It has only been a month. In fact TODAY makes a month and this shit is HARD. This blog is the most I have said publicly about the whole thing. This drowning feeling of hurt, anger and humiliation (he cheated in a BIG way) seems like it will never go away – but you all seem pretty well adjusted. (Meaning not venting, angry or “shrewish” in your responses)

    Just saying it gives me hope…because right now I’d love nothing more to take it straight to his jaw…with a crow bar, but I digress.

  • Classic Ruby


    Ok, I pulled out some random number from my head to illustrate the concept that some people DO remain engaged for extended periods of time. For example, a friend of mine and his fiancee got married last year after being engaged for 6 years. He knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and already enough money saved for a ring so he proposed to her. However she was just beginning, or close to it at least, her undergrad in Kinesiology. So she wanted to wait til she finished before actually getting married. Then they (yes, they) decided to invest in her Masters, and a house prior to investing in a wedding.

    So he moved into their house while she remained at home with her mother (she is a Christian and the only woman I know who got married at 27 and was a virgin on her wedding night) and they spent the days of the weekend (she would go home at night) together putting together their home or with her studying. After getting her Masters they buckled down for that last year and saved like crazy and with that money, combined with the help they received from their parents, they had a crazy elaborate wedding, all without going into debt, and already had a retirement fund and a nice little nest egg for whatever else.

    So that is one example, and a good illustrative point, for why some people end up having long engagements or end up mixing finances prior to marriage.

    idk though, IMO mixing your finances with your non-spouse SO you trust can be just as easy or just as messy as it can be with someone you married. I think it has a lot to do with the people involved and their maturity levels. Very early on my exboyfriend and I had shared finances on a lot of levels, and even though he ended up being a whore (lol) I had known instinctively I could trust him on that financial level and I was not proven wrong.

    And he helped me out for a year and a half after we had broken up (I’m in school full time and had made the decision to go back to school jointly with him backing me, so he helped me until I figured out my new financial situation) showing that we had enough maturity and care for one another to handle the separation maturely…even though we weren’t legally bonded, emotionally we were — which I think can count for more if anything.

  • rwifey

    love the post, ur a great writer sir!

    who gives them back, love always works out…and i wake up and close the fairy tale book

    give it back, move on martha move on

    if he allows you to keep it, melt it, pawn it, use to pay for a vacation

    MOVE ON (this coming from the gal not over the last one)

  • The Duchess

    Why is anybody “engaged” for 8 years? That’s almost a damn decade. Something ain’t right in that scenario. You know what you can do in 8 years? Get TWO diplomas/degrees. lol

    In my world if i was doing all that “building a life together” stuff we would have already been married early into that. I don’t believe in making all those financial ties if we ain’t hitched, just sounds messy to do with no tangible commitment cause until you’re actually married you can always just leave
    You must have been reading my mind! Being engaged for any more than 2 yrs is RETARDED!! True meaning isssssss, he/she doesn’t really want to be married!

  • Sherell

    I am typing this response with an engagement ring on my right hand. It depends. In my case the relationship died over time and when it officially ended, we remained friends. He never asked for it back and I didn’t offer. It wasn’t expensive ($800) he paid for it and this was many years ago. He has since passed and it took years for me to realized that he loved me like no man ever has since. I cherish it and when someone ask, I say it is a gift from a very very dear friend.

    Life is about perpective and time will always add depth.

  • Othaniel Cruickshank

    @ T boogie

    As much as your current situation must hurt. I think it’s better now then later and be entangle in a mess of paperwork. I don’t understand guys who’re in relationships , engagments, or marriages that cheat. Why not stay single? so selfish …..

  • Shequita

    I married the fool and eventually moved out….he claims he can’t find my ring!!!! It was ALWAYS in the same spot (obviously not on my finger) and could not have been misplaced. Can you say pawn shop???? Cuz he already told me he pawned his, so why would I be fooled to think he actually held on to mine??

    If the man breaks off the engagement he isn’t owed anything, if she breaks it off she needs to give it back IF he asks for it

  • Artivist

    An engagement ring given to a woman on her birthday, Christmas, or Valentine’s day is considered a gift, and does not have to be returned– according to NYS law any way. My personal view is if the man breaks the engagement, he should give the woman the option to keep the ring (and Emily Post agrees). If the woman breaks the engagement or the break-up is mutual, the ring goes back to the man. I wouldn’t want the ring, but he damn sure better not give it to someone else after I return it.

  • Shequita

    @ Othaniel LOL I guess I wasn’t the only one who gave it back and got it back!!

  • Anike Love

    OMGoodness, let a man propose to me with an engagement ring initially intended for another women, and crap…he better watch his life! That’s just tacky and uncouth.

    But if a guy proposes and gives me a ring, I think I would give it back if we ended the engagement. Especially if the engagement was called off for a bad reason, the last thing I would want is to have any type of connection to him. Even pawning it and keeping the cash would still be like a continuation of the negative energy from the relationship, and I wouldn’t want that.

  • Damond

    Give Back the Ring!!!!

    @ Legally Brown….Is there a Website that list which state has “no-fault” jurisdiction?

  • Elle

    Sorry Ans, a promissory note? Are you kidding me?
    How about you give my parents a couple of goats, camels or cows in exchange for me?

    An engagement ring is a gift in my world. It’s something that accompanies an important decision but does not factor into it. It’s not an item in exchange for my heart, my love or my life. If that was the case no money in the world could “buy” me, and certainly no ring.

    If you don’t give the ring from your heart, don’t give it at all and certainly don’t ask anyone to marry you.

    Besides, you keep assuming that the woman ends the relationship. From my own experience and what I am reading here it seems men have a tendency to end engagements one way or another. So not only do they get to crush our hearts by toying with the idea of marriage, they also get to be tacky/cheap and ask for the ring back?


  • Elle

    @T Boogie

    It get’s better. I didn’t believe it at first but it does.

    Now, 7 months later, I can only pity him and ask myself what the heck was I thinking.

  • QuoteMan

    Fellas let’s suck it up, you lose your woman you lose the ring, disregard to who is at fault.

    If you’re a man enough to make such a colossal move then be a man enough to take a loss.

    Maybe I’m saying all these crab because I’ve never bought a ring LOL

  • Epip

    She better keep it

    its not like hes going to recycle it?

  • MultipleHeart


    I agree 100%. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. When I was with my ex fiancée my Christmas and birthday gifts consisted of home cooked meals, and poems. Money was TIGHT.

    When he proposed with the ring ( a ring I picked out about a year before, on day we were window shopping) I was in tears. Tears that he actually proposed and remembered the ring.

    In reality it was just as much mine as it was his.

  • Rastaman

    Personally, I don’t foresee myself ever being in that situation because I am fully opposed to the whole engagement ring concept. Don’t bother ladies, I heard it all before…

    The idea that a man should spend two to three months’ personal wages for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds. So I am not going to spend that kind of money so you can flash ish at your girlfriends. I will propose with a downpayment on our future home together.

    But as to who should retain the engagement ring in the event the engagement falls apart, if it is an amicable split whomever wants to keep it. But as legallybrown26 the law in many jurisdictions apparently addresses all these disagreements. Interpreting the ring as a formal agreement to future marriage, sort of like a downpayment.

    These things are fraught with emotions and in event of a split precipitated by man or woman will always bring call for retribution and or punishment. I don’t have time for all that and if I cheat on you, lied to you or just turned out to be an insufferable AH or you the same, the less we have to do with each other the better I would think. Gimme my sht, take your sht and PEACE!!

  • M A R C R OO S E L E R

    No Brainer: The person with the receipt gets the ring. I took mine back, pawned it and at least got a little of the money back I spent. Any woman who keeps the ring (especially if she’s in the wrong) is a sick greedy bitch.

    Period exclamation mark.

  • Othaniel Cruickshank

    @ Rastaman

    I hope for your future wifes sake you change your mind. However,what you proposed is so sensible that it would be hard to argue.

    Personally, I’d rather sacrifice the wedding versus the engagement ring.

    @ Macro


  • Potato w/ Jive

    hes not gonna recycle it but he MIGHT get his money back. them things arent cheap.

  • TBoogie

    @ Othaniel – I don’t get it at all. And this guy was on some master deception ish…two rela