DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was engaged, but it didn’t work out. Now he wants back every ring he gave me: a promise ring, an engagement ring (1 carat) and a double birthstone ring (his birthstone and mine) that he bought me for Christmas.
Later he bought me a laptop, even though I told him I could wait because it was too expensive. He said, “Don’t worry.” Same for when he bought me a phone. When I said I could do with the less expensive one, he said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Months later, I wanted a vehicle towards which I had $800 saved. The one I wanted had a $2K down payment. When I told him I couldn’t afford it, he said, “Do you want it?” I said “yes,” so he paid the down payment.
Now that we’ve separated, he wants it all back, or for me to pay him back.
If someone in good faith gives a gift with no expectations, should the one that received the gifts give them back or pay for them?
GENTLE READER: Your ex-fiance is being harsh in demanding the repatriation of all presents, but this does not, Miss Manners fears, end the matter. They were not given with “no expectations”: He expected you to marry him, though not, let us hope, as a direct result of his largesse. That is why an obviously explicit present -- an engagement ring (of whatever carat) -- should always be returned.
Precisely to avoid this situation, ladies, even affianced ones, do well to avoid taking too much loot before the wedding. Otherwise, their own motives in accepting presents may be questioned, a situation that a reasonable lady would find embarrassing.
Returning everything may be the only way to clear your reputation, if doing so is a concern.