November 07, 2011

Claiming the Ring: Break Up Etiquette

A break up is a horrible experience for all parties. The person who has been broken up with is heart broken, and left wondering if they should have seen it coming or what they could have done to fix things. The person who did the breaking up is left wondering if they made the right decision, if they will regret it and feeling guilty and sad for hurting someone that on some level they really do care for.

What makes a break up even harder is if you have made a commitment or taken the next step in your relationship and become engaged. Not only does it increase the guilt, sadness, heart break and leave you with a diamond ring momento, it also adds a whole list of unwritten rules and etiquette to the situation that draw it out and make it harder. So what are the rules?

The rules will differ depending on the two people in the relationship and how they broke up. If it was amicable and both parties are sad but know it’s the right decision, most things will be easy to work out and decisions and action can be undertaken together. If one party is in the wrong, or has been left very heart broken, having planned their life, thought about kids, maternity wear, buying a home, the finalisation of the relationship will generally be undertaken by the offending party. Here’s a few insights to help you out:

1.Your family
You have to tell them – whether you’re the broken up with, or the heart breaker, you need to let the people closest to you know that the wedding is off. In terms of permitting your ex to contact your family or vice versa, that is up to you. If your family were close with him or her, they can send some condolences, but they also need to be aware they should be supporting their own also, and presenting a united front behind you.
2.Her family
As your ex and not his or her fiancé, you have no rights to his or her family. You should not contact anyone in the family for any trivial matter. You should contact them only to amicably determine how to unravel the wedding and also possibly to politely and briefly check in on your ex to see how he or she is doing.
3.The ring… and other things
The ring is a tough one, and many people have different opinions. Consensus generally is that she should give it back once the engagement is over, however some men feel it was a gift, given in good faith at the time and gifts should not be returned regardless of circumstance. On the other hand, if she was cheated on, many women will tell her not to give it back because he doesn’t deserve it!
4.The apologies
Letting potential guests of the impending wedding know that it is no longer happening is also important. This can be a job undertaken by both parties – each contacting their own sides subtly. Or if one party is heart broken, the other party may take over this role to save further heart break and embarrassment.
Unless you have great and generous in laws, the cost of the cancelled wedding should be shared by both sides – or whoever was in the wrong!
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