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Carolyn Hax: Post-divorce, she fears being a 'rebound girl'

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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My boyfriend and I have been casually looking at engagement rings for him to see what I like, but I've asked him if I can be involved in picking it out, and he has agreed. He has this endearing habit of bringing home presents I'm allergic to, can't use, don't like to eat, etc. His heart is in the right place, so I appreciate every one of these gifts, but for something this expensive, I'd rather we both put thought into it.

When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me I was greedy, ungrateful and "you're lucky you're getting anything." It hurt my feelings to no end.

Now, she didn't get an engagement ring from my father, so I'm guessing this is colored by jealousy a bit, but . . . I feel horrible. Am I an ungrateful wench because I want something on my finger I'm not allergic to and would actually like to look at for the rest of my life?

N.Y., N.Y.

Is your mom always this tough on you? I can see her disagreeing, fine, but, "Ooh, I hope you didn't hurt his feelings when you asked that . . . " would have gotten her point across without trashing your character. That phrasing also would have allowed for the possibility that there wasn't anything wrong with it, and left you room to explain your rationale.

To answer your question, your rationale sounds fine to me. You can be pragmatic without being presumptuous.

That said -- when you presented this to your mom as a matter of avoiding an ugly ring, that might not have helped your cause. From now on, if the subject comes up, consider leaving out your fiance's knack for bad gifts, and stick to the logic of your decision: "For something this expensive, I'd rather we both put thought into it."

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