How to Deal When Your Boss Makes Rude Comments About Your Engagement Ring

boss makes rude comments about my engagement ring - advice from Corporette on how to dealOoh, here’s a great reader Q today: how to deal when your boss makes rude comments about your engagement ring. Here’s Reader C’s question:

I am recently engaged, and am having difficulty handling my boss’s reaction. Specifically, he makes “joking” comments about when I will be quitting now that I am engaged. He gave me a hard time for eating my sack lunch saying I “can obviously afford a $10 lunch given that ring.” He also asked me how much my ring was worth (it is a nice ring, but nothing extravagant, ~1.5 carats). I work at a Big 4 firm for reference and am a highly rated employee. Help! How should I handle this??

Wow… I have multiple angry emojis for your boss. We haven’t talked about diamond rings at work in a while, and I can’t wait to see what the readers say. (This has shades of some of our other discussions on sexism at work, including the offensive client who commented on how expensive a bag was, as well as our discussion on how to deal when you work with sexist pigs.)

For my $.02, I think that you need to take your boss aside and say something directly, because this goes beyond “razzing you like one of the boys in the office” or whatever it is HE thinks he’s doing. This is calling up stereotypes of women who quit as soon as they get married — the type who go to grad school for an “MRS.” SUPER fun stereotype, but it can be really harmful to the work environment as well as to your own career. Keep in mind, this is what he’s saying to your face — who knows what he’s saying behind your back? You might want to find another woman in your group to talk this out before approaching him, because she will hopefully know the different personalities at play.

Readers, what would your script with the boss look like? How would you handle it if your boss made rude comments about your engagement ring at work?

Picture via to deal when your boss makes rude comments about your engagement ring - image of a bride's ring finger

A reader wrote in because her boss was making jokes about her engagement ring, suggesting she might quit soon and she doesn't need to pack her lunch because her ring is so huge. What would YOU do?


  1. Anonymous :

    “Why would you say that?”

    If it continues, involve HR. It’s that easy.

    • This is not to be snarky, but do people ever involve HR? That would be a bridge burning activity where I work.

      • HR here is useless, and I always assume they would protect whoever is higher up in the food chain than me anyway.

  2. Thisperson1 :

    Need house buying advice: We’re currently selling our home to move closer to my husband’s work. I will need to find a new job in that area. We were going to rent for a while, but have found a house we like and are thinking of buying sooner instead. When applying for a home loan, both as second time home buyers, will they consider my current income, or no, because once we move I won’t have this/a job? And if not, thoughts on just hubby on mortgage but both on deed? Advice?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Why would you tell them you are quitting your job? Don’t volunteer any information they don’t ask for. If you have a job now and will until your close the loan, just proceed as usual.

      If I were hubby, I would be unhappy to be on the mortgage alone while both are on the deed. I don’t know why you couldn’t be on the loan even if you didn’t have an income, BTW. Lenders are happy to have as many people on the hook as possible.

      • The issue with the first paragraph is that the lender will be able to figure out she’s going to be losing her job after moving away, unless she says she’s going to work remotely–which they would then verify with the employer. I guess she could claim she was going to commute, if that’s plausible, but then she’ll have to hope her employer goes along with that on the verification or else isn’t too annoyed if she tells them she’s staying but then quits right after the closing.

        • Eh. I think if you use a mortgage broker that probably goes to high volume banks, they’re not doing a whole lot other than making sure you’re employed at the time of application and that your W2s, which are obviously backwards looking, reflect sufficient income to cover the mortgage. The tiny credit union I used that insisted on meeting clients in person (mega old school style) would have caught on to this (we used them because they were so old school they didn’t believe in PMI). Money center banks that crank through hundreds of applications per day likely won’t catch it.

          I agree with Senior Attorney – don’t volunteer the info. Huge chance it’s never caught.

          • BUT, to answer your question, if they’re on to it they probably won’t count your income because it’s not a “guaranteed” future income stream (what income is truly guaranteed, I know…).

          • Anonymous :

            Aren’t they going to be able to tell from the application? It always has the house address on it – if her job is in the current spot they’ll either tip her current employer off inadvertently, or reject her current income.

            Do you need the income for the house? I’d be upfront about it.

          • I recently went through this myself with a large, national lender and they definitely wanted to know how I was going to get an income after moving. They wanted details about my remote arrangement and needed both phone and written verification of it. It’s always possible they won’t check, but I definitely wouldn’t count on it.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah, even if you have $0 income you should be on both the deed and the mortgage. The only reason I would opt for leaving someone off the loan is if they had a terrible credit score and the other person could get a better interest rate alone. But normally a stay-at-home partner does not negatively affect the interest rate unless they have massive consumer debt or something like that.

  3. Waiting for Meds to Kick in :

    I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for awhile. Been seeing a therapist I like since last winter and have recently decided to try medication and am about two weeks in and don’t know what to do with myself during the ramp up period. I identify so much with the men in the “need advice” thread from earlier and I don’t want to do that to my partner (I’m afraid I’ve done it to someone else in the past) but I feel like I’m doing everything I know how to do but still waiting for the medication to help me feel something again.

    • Anonymous :

      Keep in mind that the first medication you try is not a magical automatic fix – you might need dose a adjustment or it might not be the right medication for you. There are so many different meds out there. If you don’t start feeling better soon, see your doctor ASAP.

  4. “boss, I know you think you’re being funny, but you’re starting to offend me. please stop”

    then HR

  5. Lip Wrinkles :

    I am late thirties and just started to notice some tiny vertical wrinkles above my lip…like the ones that cause lipstick to feather in much older women. What can I do _now_ to make sure these don’t get worse? Serum? Retin-A? HALP.

    • Flats Only :

      Avoid drinking straws, and if you smoke try to quit. I stopped using straws when I saw those lines arriving (after years of having a large, covered cup on my desk that had a straw, and after 6 months or so of not puckering around a straw every 15 minutes, the lines went away on their own.

      • Lip Wrinkles :

        Yeah–neither of those are the case–I rarely use straws, and i would never ever smoke (asthma!). Any other suggestions?

      • Straw Lines :

        I have those lines, specifically from drinking from a straw for years (I was never a smoker), and now in my 50’s the only thing that helps is Botox. But it helped a lot, they show much less now, so I will continue to do it.

  6. Your boss is an @$$. Document everything. Then find a new job.

  7. Anonymous :

    SF ladies – I am working out of my firm’s SF office today and am leaving later this afternoon to have dinner with a cousin outside the city. My firm’s office is on Market Street near Embarcadero. Any suggestions for a shop within 2-3 blocks where I can pick up a nice gift for my cousin and her husband? I’m thinking nice chocolates or coffee. TIA!

    • Anonymous :

      The Ferry Building!

      • And if you go to the Ferry Building, get the “good” truffle salt from Far West Fungi — ask for the one in the “flattened” jar. They will know what you mean.

    • Ferry building for sure. Just walk in and many gift ideas will become immediately apparent.

  8. Anonymous :

    I think the jokes about quitting are different than the jokes about being able to afford a $10 lunch. My boss always used to make fun of me for wearing really cheap clothing (he was a straight male, but a bit of a fashion connoisseur) and he would regularly say things to me like “Your shoes should cost more than your lunch!” Saying “oh you have a nice ring, you can afford blah blah” seems a little tacky and inappropriate but ultimately not that harmful. But joking about you quitting your job is sexist and it’s very problematic for your bosses’ mind to even be going there.

    • ITA with this. The jokes about you quitting because you’re engaged are sexist and I would probably try to address that very directly, something along the lines of, “You keep saying that, and I want to say I have no plans to quit so you can stop worrying about it.” I might even say, “Interesting, do you assume men will quit when they get engaged?” but I tend to push back harder on this kind of thing that many are comfortable with so take that with a grain of salt.

      The jokes about the cost of the ring are crass but some people are just crass. I’d just pointedly not laugh, cause it’s not actually funny.

      • I would document each time he makes comments like that, especially if you ask him to stop and he doesn’t. Should you ever have to bring a complaint or a claim, based on gender discrimination, which is where those stereotypes are headed, it will be critical information.

  9. Another view :

    I agree with the above poster who said that the jokes about affording to buy lunch, while rude, aren’t harmful; the jokes about quitting are. If you don’t feel comfortable directly confronting him, I would maybe joke back and say “no, my husband is trying to be a man of leisure… I’ll still be working!” Something along those lines… joking about your husband becoming a “trophy husband.” I used to use that sometimes at my previous company when people would ask why I was in grad school while working because I’d be having kids soon (??? Which is a whole other level of weird).

  10. Anonymous :

    This is harassment. The question is what you do about it. At a recent training at work, it was suggested that one document in writing what was said and the time. Another idea mentioned is to tell friends and family contemporaneous to comments being made as their statements can be used to substantiate the claims. We now have this training every year. I guess that there were a number of lawsuits fairly recently. Sigh.

  11. I think the course of action depends a little bit on your engagement manager and the relationship you have with him. I work for a similar firm, and with the majority of partners or senior managers I would start by giving a joking, sarcastic reply. The husband being a man of leisure above was a good one. I might also go for “I know what you mean, I was worried about you might quit when I found out you were married”, or “aren’t you cute with your stereotypes”, or “wait wait wait are you hoping I go or hoping I stay?”

    If it keeps going or starts to really bother you, I would sit down and have a conversation with him. give him feedback about how you feel when he says that. He may not realize it has the impact it does. The big caveat here is that tone is everything. You have to keep it light and not like a serious HR matter.

    If you have a good relationship with your counselor, I would talk to them about it.

    You could report it up to HR if you feel that’s the right thing to do, but it may limit you working with this manager in the future. Firms are generally pretty good about the confidentiality, but you’re still better trying to maintain the relationship.

  12. Anonymous :

    This very thing happened to me as a young lawyer at my first BigLaw job over 30 years ago. It also happened to other women in the firm. However, we kept our heads down and continued to smile meekly and work hard—maybe someday the nice men would allow us to become their partners! We were just as scared of “burning bridges” (i.e. getting blacklisted and never working in town again) and were just as concerned that HR would be no help as these current comments reflect. Other industries have changed since then, even perhaps taking “political correctness” too far,. However, I find it so very sad that in 2017 any person, but especially a male, feels it is ever appropriate to “joke” about a woman quitting because she is engaged. Sigh.

  13. A big law friend dealt with rude comments when she was pregnant. Her boss constantly made “I’ll deny this if anyone asks” types of statements about how he did not see how she would be able to continue with her job. Her husband was in a position that would eventually generate great income & her male colleagues would make comments about how she should be a SAHM. She became so concerned about her supervisor’s inappropriate comments that she started taping him and keeping a log.

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