Dear Captain Awkward,
I accidentally found a diamond ring in my boyfriend’s bag when he returned home from a recent trip to see his family. We have been together for three years, but have been on rocky territory for a while. We had a fight shortly before he left to see his family, which led to me saying I thought we should get counseling, which he wasn’t super interested in. As a compromise, I said we should give ourselves two months to work on our issues, and if we couldn’t make headway, see a counselor, and then…. ( I realize I didn’t make it explicit in our conversation, but I meant that if we couldn’t make things right, we should break up, as four months will take us through the end of our lease).
I’ve been feeling not great about the relationship, and seeing the ring, and the oh fuck feelings it brought up, makes me realize that I’m basically done. However, he is not an asshole, and I don’t want to to hurt him. I am worried he may be thinking of a Christmas proposal (there is a suspicious package under the tree), which… please no. No no no no no no no. How do I head off this potential proposal off at the pass? Or, if that isn’t possible, how do I very gently let him down if he does propose?
Saddling Up the Nopetopus
Ohhhhh my heart goes out to both of you. All of your options are awkward.
Option 1: “Boyfriend, when I was putting your suitcase up I found a diamond ring in it. That’s, um, not a usual thing you carry around, and given the proximity to Christmas and some of the talks we’ve been having about our relationship, I don’t feel like pretending that I didn’t see it is the right thing to do...”
He’ll say some stuff and you’ll say some stuff and you’ll probably be broken up by the end of the conversation and it will be done.
Or, Option 2, you can break up with him without mentioning the ring or that you saw it. “Christmas is bad timing, but while you were with your family I did some thinking, and I think it’s time to end this. I am so sorry.”
Option 3: Brazen it out and hope the ring is a family heirloom he brought home “just in case” but with no immediate plans to give it away, like, his mom said “Here’s grandma’s ring…just in case!” and pressed it on him. Maybe?
Urgggghhhh. Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh. I could not do this waiting thing – I’m terrible at surprises when there are GOOD presents to be had. This letter writer has the mirror problem (which friend of blog Dana Norris answers beautifully) and I stand by my worldview that decisions like marriage should not be a surprise!!!!! ambush and jewelry should not feel like a ticking time-bomb.
Option 4: Ride it out, and if he actually asks, say “I am so very honored that you asked me, and this is incredibly beautiful and sweet, but…” “But??” “But I don’t want to marry you, I’m so sorry.”
The truth is the ethical way through this, whichever option you choose. It’s time. You know it’s time. In a way he has given you a gift of the next four months to work on starting your new, single life instead of limping through couples’ counseling and trying to make it work out. You can be friendly and kind to each other even if you aren’t a couple any longer.
In the meantime, I send you urrrrrggggggghhhhs of solidarity.