Wants His Ring Back

Q: I proposed to my long-distance girlfriend more than two years ago. At first she accepted and was all excited, but then six months later she backed off and said she needs time. It all ends, of course, with her breaking it off with me. I waited six months more, just in case we got back together, before asking for the engagement ring back. She told me she'd ship it back . . . I wait 1 week, 2 weeks, 2 months. Finally I confronted her again and threatened to take it to court. She gave all these excuses for not having shipped it, but swore she'd send it back soon. Well, here we are 6 weeks after that claim and still no ring. Why is it that she keeps it (no one can understand that)? And what should I do about it? I already know that the law in our respective states is behind me, but I didn't want to take it that far. Some people tell me to just forget about it, but I think it's completely disrespectful that she keep something that I had to work hard to afford and that meant so much to me. Advice? -- Richard, 24

Dr. Susan: I'm with you, Richard. You worked hard to earn the money, and you gave her that ring and she accepted it as a symbol of your engagement. When she broke it off, she should have returned the ring immediately. It has no meaning to her (other than as a reminder of you and her broken promise), and it has plenty of value to you, whether you give it to someone else eventually, perhaps in another setting, or whether you try to sell it. Legally and morally, it's yours. I'm not sure I can explain why she keeps delaying, other than that she's a procrastinator and just can't get it together to pack and ship it to you. She may not want to think about it, or you, and instead simply avoids dealing with it. Or she might be harboring resentment toward you and doesn't want to make it easy for you. Going to court does seem like a hassle. Would this be a small claims court matter in your state? Would that preclude you from suing her (or threatening to sue her) in a civil court? Do you know a lawyer or can you find one willing to let you use his or her name? Then you could write a letter to her (stop with the phone calls, since they don't work), and make it registered. Tell her if you don't get the ring within one week, you're going to sue her, and then cite the specific law she's breaking. At the bottom, show that you're sending a copy to the lawyer. If she doesn't respond to the registered letter, then pay a lawyer to write her a more official letter. Of course, you have to decide if the cost of the ring, and the possibility of turning it into cash or a ring for some other woman, is worth going through this time, expense, and aggravation.

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