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By Mink Stole | Posted 6/1/2005

My girlfriend and I were together for two years while she was still in high school. I was in college, and although I was carrying a pretty heavy course load and working part time, I still drove more than 100 miles to see her every week. Neither of us dated anyone else, and after about a year and a half I gave her a promise ring. Now that sheís graduating from high school and planning to go away to college in the fall, she broke up with me because she says she wants to know what itís like to date other guys; she feels like sheís missing some important life experience. But she also said she wants to keep the ring because she loves me and still hopes we have a future together. I told her to put it away for now and when sheís ready to get back together with me she can wear it again, but my friend told me I was stupid not to ask for the ring back. Is he right? Should I get the ring back? Should I call her or wait for her to call me?

Want to Keep the Promise

The fact that your girlfriend, or I should say your ex-girlfriend, is smart enough to realize sheís too young and inexperienced to make a lifelong commitment, WTKTP, doesnít make you stupid for wishing she would. However, if your friend is trying to tell you she wonít be coming back to you, heís probably right. Itís certainly possible that after knowing you any new guy she meets will be a dreadful disappointment, but as she grows from high school girl to young woman on campus, sheís going to meet a lot of new people, and as getting to know more men is her stated goal, itís at least equally possible sheíll encounter one or two who tickle her coed fancy.

Since she broke up with you, she should offer to return the ring, but since these promise rings generally have more sentimental than intrinsic value, the jewelry isnít the real issue. What is important is clarifying your expectations. As it stands, it sounds like youíre willing to be her backup guy, while she gets this whole dating thing out of her system. While this may seem a noble and loving position for you to take, itís unfair to you both. Itís far better to make a clean, bilateral break, with neither of you having any further responsibility to the other. If, after youíve both looked around, you discover that you are soul mates, great. If not, at least you wonít have wasted your time waiting for her to decide your future.


Iím a 32-year-old single guy who lives in a small town and works in the family business. In the last few years, most of my friends have married and had kids, which has turned my once-active social life into a series of fix-ups by well-meaning pals who think all I need to make me happy is finding the right woman. They and my parents are pushing me to buy a house and stay right where I am. But Iím not sure I want to do that, at least not yet. I want to get married one day, but for years Iíve had this fantasy, or dream, of having a loft apartment in the city. I want to go to the theater, eat in good restaurants, and meet new people who arenít either changing diapers all the time or ready for bed at 9 every night. But Iíve never had the courage to actually make the move, and Iím beginning to think I might be stuck here forever. Iím not sure what frightens me more, taking such a big step or not taking it. Am I too old to make such a bold move?

Bored in the Burbs

ďAs we get older, the things we regret most are the things we didnít do.Ē óAnonymous, et al.

You may be too timid, too lazy, or even too comfortable in your familiar surroundings to move to the city, BITB, but one thing you definitely are not is too old. People often believe themselves too old to try something new, as though refusing to experiment will somehow halt the aging process, but the truth is that, if you donít die first, next year youíll be 33, and the year after that 34, no matter where you decide to put in the time.

I donít know enough about you to know whether youíd be happier in the city than in your hometown, but if itís been a dream of yours for years, you should pay attention. Iím not suggesting just packing up your car and taking off, but you could start doing some research. Subscribe to the cityís daily and alt-weekly papers. Check the real estate and employment pages, and online sites like Craigís List, to get an idea of job and housing opportunities, and the personal columns to see who might be looking to make new friends. If a theater or restaurant sounds especially intriguing, take some time, go there, check it out in person. You canít know if youíll love a place until you actually live there, but it only takes a few days of exploring to get an idea of whether a cityís rhythms, atmosphere, and attitude attract or repel you.

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Think Mink archives

More from Mink Stole

Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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