DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since I am better able to afford an engagement ring than my boyfriend, would it be all right for me to buy myself my own ring? And since he does not approve of that idea, would it be all right for me to help pay for it?
GENTLE READER: Does the gentleman approve of becoming engaged?
Miss Manners suggests settling that point first. But even if you have not conjured this entire idea by yourself, Miss Manners warns you that the symbolism of an engagement ring of which one party disapproves is not good.
You do know, don’t you, that it is possible to become engaged without a ring? You can also buy yourself whatever jewelry you want and can afford. But to buy yourself a ring and pass it off as a sentimental pledge from someone who had nothing to do with it suggests, symbolically, that you can do quite nicely without him.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hope to find a way to gracefully decline repeated attempts by my sister at getting me to attend all of my 15-year-old nephew’s football games.
I previously attended three or four of his games in the three years since he began playing peewee ball, as a sign of support for his decision to get active and healthy and enjoy a team sport. It has truly made him a more polite and engaging young man, and I am pleased to offer support to that.
However, these games are an hour-and-a-half trip for me to attend, and well, frankly, I have a life of my own, other obligations/interests/hobbies and a home to maintain, in addition to working full time.
Additionally, my sister and her husband obsess over their son’s football games to the point where you cannot have a conversation with them that does not get immediately turned around to their son’s football or the latest gossip from the other football parents (who is cheating on whom, etc). Their obsession has reached a point where they go straight home after a game and watch the video of it over and over again.
My sister is extremely sensitive and historically takes any declined offer as a personal affront. I must find a way to be delicate with her feelings, but at the same time let her know I just do not hold the same interest in a 15-year-old’s playing football as she does, and that I feel it has passed beyond normalcy.
GENTLE READER: Yes — a good while back, Miss Manners would think.
Perhaps your nephew is more mature than his parents. Even if not, he probably feels he has enough embarrassing relatives in the stands.
Miss Manners suggests confessing to him that while you are proud of his prowess, you are not much of a football fan, but would like to find another activity that you can enjoy with him. Then, with him present, you can tell your sister, “I won’t be going to the game, but the next weekend, when he’s free, I’m taking him to dinner and a play.”