Once upon a time, I was engaged. And then, one day, I wasn’t anymore.
But somehow I walked away with a token of our failed relationship — my engagement ring. It didn’t have to be that way though. My ex could have gotten it back from me, and fairly easily too, but he missed his opportunity. If you find yourself in his position and don’t want to miss your opportunity to get back an incredibly expensive piece of jewelry, you just need to follow these five tips … actually, hold on a second.
Before I tell you how to get back the engagement ring, answer these questions so I can figure out whether I should even bother helping you.
1. Who ended the engagement?
B: Her (skip Question 2, proceed to Question 3)
2. Did she cheat on you?
A: Yes (I’m sorry to hear it. Proceed to the tips.)
3. Did you cheat on her?
A: Yes (proceed to Question 4)
B: No (skip Question 4, proceed to the tips)
4. You dick. Is the ring a family heirloom?
A: Yes (Okay, you deserve to get the ring back, but you still suck. Proceed to the tips.)
B: No (Don’t bother reading the rest of this article, cut your losses, and consider the ring her payment for enduring a relationship with you.)
TIP1: IF SHE OFFERS TO GIVE IT BACK, TAKE IT
When my ex called off our engagement, the third thing I did — first I wailed for 30 minutes, then I screamed that I would never let him take our dog away from me — was remove the ring from my finger and offer it to him. “No, the ring is yours,” he said. I pulled my hand back, eventually hid the ring away in a drawer, and never offered it to him again. Perhaps it’s too late for this advice if you’re reading this article, but it’s worth saying: If your ex offers you the ring, think long and hard before you answer because you may very well never again get the opportunity to have the matter resolved quickly and without an argument.
TIP 2: DON’T BE A DICK
Going through a breakup is no excuse for you or your ex to behave like assh*les. No matter who did what to whom, conduct yourself with compassion, kindness, and respect. It’s just good karma — but also, the less angry your ex is at you, the more likely she is to react maturely when you ask her to give up the nicest piece of jewelry she owns.
TIP 3: GIVE UP YOUR CLAIM ON EVERYTHING ELSE
Unless the ring is an heirloom that you plan to return to the family vault, it’s going to be obvious to your ex that you plan on selling it back to the jeweler. That may sound logical and fair in your head, but the day you put that ring on her finger it felt like hers. And in some ways, giving you back the ring may feel to her like handing you a chunk of money. So if you want the ring back, don’t bother arguing over other assets obtained during your relationship. In other words, the HDTV, the couch, and yes, the dog are all hers if she wants them. Pick your battles, dude.
TIP 4: CUT YOUR LOSSES
Make a list of practical reasons why you both deserve and/or need the ring back. This is easy if the ring belonged to your grandmother; only a really terrible slag would fight over giving back something so personal and priceless. (Of course, you may be ending the engagement precisely because you’ve realized you were about to marry a terrible slag. Your bad!) But if you want it back for financial reasons — and who wouldn’t, considering how much rings cost — be prepared to say as much. From a legal point of view (not that you’re planning on going to court over this) an engagement ring is something given as a promise of a future marriage. If that marriage never happens, the promise is broken; it generally doesn’t matter by whom or why in the eyes of the law. However, if you’re the one who ended the relationship and you want the ring back so you can sell it, you might consider positioning the ring as a symbol of your relationship, thus owned by both of you, and offer to split the value. It’s better than nothing — and it could resolve the issue quickly and easily.
TIP 5: PICK THE RIGHT TIME
Don’t ask for the ring back in the middle of a fight. Or when she’s sobbing about how much she misses “us.” Or when you’re both tanked. You shouldn’t delay too long — if she’s already put it in a safety deposit box, you’re screwed — but I also don’t think it’s wise to ask for the ring back during a period of extreme up-and-down emotions on either side. You’ll use a word she doesn’t like, she’ll accuse you of being insensitive, you’ll tell her that you never thought she was the gold-digging type, and suddenly dishes are flying at your head and that ring is as good as gone. So try to make sure your interactions are (mostly) conflict-free before you ask for the ring.
Amelia McDonell-Parry is the editor of TheFrisky.com.