Miss Manners: I want the gifts I gave her when we broke up

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Dear Miss Manners: I met this guy almost three years ago. We dated for about seven weeks and then he broke up. We stayed in touch for about a year, then he asked me out for dinner and we started seeing each other again. But last May he broke it off because he thought I didn’t think he was doing enough.

I was so upset that I put all the cards he gave me, plus a few special items, in a bag and dropped them off at his door. We started talking two weeks after that, and now we’re slowly getting back on track. But I want the cards back.

How and when can I get them back? I asked him, and he said, “I’m not sure. That might be a question for Miss Manners. He was definitely upset that I put all this on his doorstep.

As well he should have been. Returning letters and gifts after a breakup is a way of saying that even the memory of the relationship is painful. At the same time, one might find relief in finding written evidence of a passion that may have died out.

Is it really a viable relationship? Miss Manners has no idea and suspects none of you do yet either. Maybe when you both feel like it, he’ll give you the cards back or write you something similar.

But you have to remember that he has a strong aversion to pressure from you that he doesn’t do enough. It would not be useful to repeat it.

Dear Miss Manners: I don’t know how to write an obituary for the person I chose not to marry, but whose engagement ring I wore for 16 years while we lived together.

I’m okay with calling him my “fiancé”. My problem: I have two sons from a previous relationship who became very close to him after their father died. Should they be mentioned in the obituary? Also their children?

As living conditions have changed, the obituaries too. The list of people closest to the deceased serves not only as a record, but also to notify others where sympathy would be appreciated.

Offhand, Miss Manners can’t think of the word to describe the bond your sons feel, but has no problem with you mentioning them among those who are bereaved.

Dear Miss Manners: I am invited to a lunch for a girlfriend’s 50th birthday, and the invitation says “no presents, please”. What can I do instead?

Respond quicklycongratulate your friend, socialize with her other friends, thank her and put her on the guest list for your next party.

Miss Manners would think that people who mistakenly believe that they have to pay admission in some form for social events would be relieved to know that these are their only duties.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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