Dear Carolyn:

My boyfriend has a female friend who makes flirty comments that I find inappropriate. He agrees and says it makes him uncomfortable and that it's unfair to me, but he hasn't said anything to her to stop it. I don't want to be the type of girlfriend to suggest he cut off all contact with her, and frankly, I like her despite these comments. What can I say to her that doesn't sound too snarky but gets the message across that I wish she'd back off?


You're upset enough to confront the woman, your boyfriend agrees it's disrespectful to you, and yet he says nothing to stop it? And you give him a pass? Even though his remaining inert makes him part of the problem?

If you're letting me choose whom to get more worked up about, I'll take the boyfriend. He owes you more than she does. That said, my choice of remedies either way is: nothing. Nothing from the boyfriend, nothing from you. Your relationship is apparently happy, solid and unthreatened by outside assault, since you don't suggest anything but.

So put the flirt in the proper perspective and ignore her, except when egregiousness demands that you put her -- good-naturedly -- in her place: "Should I be getting you guys a room?"

Dear Carolyn:

What is the etiquette on returning jewelry to boyfriends? He gave me a garnet ring for Christmas -- the only big thing on my list (I figured if anyone bought it, it would've been my family). We had been together about six months at the time. It's a nice ring, but I'm sure it didn't cost more than what I gave him. Anyway, he keeps saying that if we were to break up, he would want me to give the ring back. I will if he wants, but is it the same rule with all boyfriends? I'm 21 and he's 25, if it matters. I've had a couple of boyfriends, but I'm his first girlfriend.


Not that you could tell.

None of the other details you provide, though, has any effect on my answer. Expected or un-, expensive or in-, old love or new, 25 or 55, Christmas or Columbus Day -- a gift is a gift is a gift.

Ring: yours. Abysmal manners: his.

There are exceptions. Engagement rings, for example, you return if you break the engagement. If the garnet were a family heirloom, I could also see giving it back. What I can't see, in any case, is asking for it back, much less in advance, much much less more than once. Yow. As problems go, his poor manners are trivial compared with his raging dumpophobia.

Please air this by explaining, yes, you might break up with him someday (perhaps soon). Yes, he might be the one to dump you. Yes, most relationships end. And humans are mortal, too -- but does that mean he is going through life as firmly and consciously braced for his inevitable demise as he is for this somewhat-less-inevitable breakup-to-be?

Suggest he try deep breaths and taking life as it comes. And taking the ring back now, much as you love it, since it's causing him so much distress.

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