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Miss Manners: Should I keep paying for a newspaper subscription gift for a now ex-boyfriend?

Dear Miss Manners: A few months ago, I got my boyfriend a birthday gift of a year-long subscription to a newspaper. He broke up with me a month later, and we are no longer talking. Should I keep paying the subscription until next year? Or cut him off now?

Tempting as it must be to imagine him searching the front yard (or the online firewall) for who stole his paper, stopping payments before the promised period expires would be tantamount to rescinding a gift you already gave, and this you should not do.

Miss Manners looks into the meaning around gifts, not the cost — or the timing of payments.

Dear Miss Manners: Several years ago, the sister-in-law of a dear friend died, leaving a large and very valuable estate. In clearing out her homes before selling them, as this woman’s only heirs, my friend and her husband ended up with a treasure trove of sorts.

My friend soon invited me over to look at the many items they'd kept from the estate. In the process, she gave me a beautiful coat, a few unframed pieces of art that she said were “much more you than me,” and a lovely gemstone necklace.

Only recently did I decide to have that necklace appraised, and I was floored to learn that it is worth close to $30,000. Miss Manners, these friends are incredibly kind people, and I don’t question their generosity for a moment. Nevertheless, I have difficulty imagining they would have casually gifted me such an item had they known its value.

Do I tell them what I've learned, perhaps under the guise of insuring the necklace rather than selling it? And, if so, how do I ask without offending them whether they'd like the necklace returned?

They were quite wealthy even before this inheritance, and I am quite … not. (I am a retired teacher, and my only car is on its last breath.) But that's not really relevant from an ethical standpoint, is it?

I’m sure my friend and her husband have long forgotten about the necklace, and I would love to sell it. Still, this quandary is keeping me up at night.

The resale price of a gift is generally irrelevant to the etiquette — but not always. Nice young women do not accept expensive gifts from strange gentlemen, and, lest Miss Manners be accused of insensitivity on issues of gender, the reverse is also still true.

Yours is another example: Neither party understood the nature of the gift at the time it was given, which needs to be addressed. Tell your friend what you learned, and say that you are embarrassed, as you could not have accepted it had you known its value — and that you really feel you should return it.

This will give your better-off friend the opportunity to tell you to keep it, which you may then do, with proper expressions of thanks. This approach is not without risk — you may have to return it — but no path guarantees both a profit and a clean conscience.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin