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Miss Manners: I want the gifts I gave back to him when we were broken up

Dear Miss Manners: I met this guy almost three years ago. We dated for about seven weeks, then he broke it off. We stayed in touch for about a year, and then he asked me to come over for dinner, and we started seeing each other again. But then this past May, he broke it off because he thought that I did not think he was doing enough.

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

How and when do I get them back? I did ask him, and he replied, “I’m not sure. That might be a question for Miss Manners.” He was definitely upset that I put all that on his doorstep.

As well he should have been. Returning letters and presents after a breakup is a way of saying that even the memory of the relationship is painful. At the same time, one might find it a relief to recover written evidence of a possibly defunct passion.

Is it really a viable relationship? Miss Manners has no idea, and suspects that neither of you do yet, either. Perhaps when you both feel that it is, he will either return the cards or write you something comparable.

But you should remember that he has a strong aversion to pressure from you that he is not doing enough. It would not be helpful to repeat that.

Dear Miss Manners: I do not know how to write an obituary for the person I chose not to marry, but whose engagement ring I have been wearing for 16 years while we lived together.

I am fine with calling him my “fiance.” My problem: I have two sons from a previous relationship who became very close to him after their father’s death. Are they to be mentioned in the obituary? Also their children?

As living arrangements have changed, so have obituaries. Listing those closest to the departed serves not only as a record, but to notify others where sympathy would be appreciated.

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

Dear Miss Manners: I am invited to a 50th birthday luncheon for a girlfriend, and the invite says “no gifts, please.” What can I do instead?

Answer promptly, congratulate your friend, socialize with her other friends, thank her and put her on the guest list for your next celebration.

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

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

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