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Widower Scoffs After New Coworker Calls Him ‘Misleading’ For Still Wearing His Wedding Ring

Businessman wearing wedding ring
Compassionate Eye Foundation-Steven Errico/Getty Images

While it’s meant to be fun, the dating scene can be absolutely brutal.

Sometimes a person will reveal a lot more about their personality when they’re trying to get someone’s attention than might be desirable, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Ideal-Mind3099 claimed to be looking out for everyone else when she pointed out to her male coworker that he was “misleading” everyone about his relationship status.

But given the fact that he was also a widow, the Original Poster (OP) may have been focused on the wrong things.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my new coworker it was misleading of him to be wearing his wedding band when he’s a widower?”

The OP was paying attention to her newest coworker.

“A couple of weeks ago, we had a new employee hired at the company. He’s a good guy and a widower named ‘James’ (36) and to my knowledge, his late wife passed away 8 months ago.”

“The other coworkers and I (32 Female) got along well with him.”

“However, I noticed that he is still wearing his wedding band on his finger. It kind of confused me a bit and I couldn’t help but bring it up with him while on lunch break.”

The OP confronted James about his wedding ring. 

“We talked and I pointed out that he was being misleading by still wearing his wedding band when he’s a widower.”

“He looked quite bothered by what I said, but I tried to explain that I think that he was giving people the wrong idea or impression about his relationship status since he’s technically single and on his own right now (don’t want to sound cruel but I’m speaking from a technical angle).”

“James said that he didn’t give it much thought (meaning he doesn’t care what people think) and that even if he wasn’t wearing his wedding band and some woman approached him, he’d still turn them down since he’s obviously not interested.”

The OP continued to push the issue.

“For some reason, things got awkward and everyone stopped eating and just stared at James and me.”

“I told him I don’t know but that really really felt generally misleading of him as in making people think he is in a relationship (married) when he is not regardless of how he felt about being in a relationship.”

“He got upset, called me rude, and said that I repeatedly disrespected his marriage and his late wife’s memory with what I said, and then he took his stuff and walked away.”

“My coworkers said regardless of who is right or wrong (though some said he overreacted) there was no reason for me to bring this up in the first place and cause a scene and make James upset with us like that.”

“Now he’s not speaking to me and others who sided with me.”

The OP didn’t see any issue in what she had said.

“This was just a conversation we were casually having with the other coworkers and I didn’t use any insensitive tones or anything, but we had a discussion, and it suddenly turned into an argument.”

“I tried to let things calm down but the situation got out of my hand unexpectedly.”

“Did I overstep or did he overreact?”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were disgusted with the OP and pointed out the ring is more than just a ring.

“OP, if you’re reading this, you are one callous a**hole! It is not up to you to determine how long it’s acceptable for someone else to grieve, or to police what they wear, jewelry, clothing, or otherwise.”

“How dare you! Seriously humongous cold-hearted, unfeeling, socially inept a**hole!” – Lokiberry316

“YTA. A wedding ring isn’t a sign to others you aren’t available it’s a commitment to a person you love. His wife might be dead but if he’s not ready to move on, then he’s still committed to her.”

“Your confusion about his status isn’t his concern.” – jdwazzu61

“I wonder what OP would say if I started wearing a wedding band from my partner.”

“I’m legally barred from marriage because I was disabled as a child (marriage equality still doesn’t exist for the disabled, folks. and since there’s confusion, ‘legally’ in this means that the discrimination is fully legal not that a judge would prohibit it. I’d just lose everything, statistically be in deep poverty, and probably die, and if I was one of the over 85% of disabled women to be abused by a spouse/caregiver I’d never be able to leave).”

“Would I have to disclose my legal and relationship status to everyone because of a ring? what if it’s fashion and that’s just where it fits?”

“Even better, since the night my father died when I was 17, 13 years ago, I have worn his wedding ring with my mom’s first wedding ring (he got her a diamond later) on my ring finger. Do I need to explain to everyone that it’s IN REMEMBERANCE of someone and that I’m actually asexual and don’t have sexual or romantic relationships at all to everyone who sees my hands?”

“A ring is a token, and to him, he’s still married or committed. My mom still wears her diamond even though Daddy has been gone and I wear the originals. Wow, do we both need to start explaining?”

“Jes*s, OP, you can want in his pants without interrogating and rushing the poor man. NO ONE’S RELATIONSHIP STATUS, AVAILABILITY, OR SEXUALITY IS YOUR F**KING BUSINESS.” – snailvarnish

“Imagine you’re in a new job for less than a month, just starting to get acquainted with your new colleagues, and it’s less than a year after you’ve lost your spouse and this AH has the absolute audacity to say this to you.”

“I’d be speechless too, if I’d overheard that, much less had it said to my face. Holy s**t.” – pillowcrates

“OP is such a cold-hearted AH.”

“A wedding band isn’t legal papers. It’s not supposed to represent his technical, legal relationship status. It’s a token of love and dedication to the person he married.”

“He’s not wearing it to let others know he’s available, he’s wearing it for her memory and to show he’s still committed to her. To his wife who died recently and who he’s still grieving.”

“OP massively overstepped James’s boundaries. He can wear his wedding band anytime, anywhere and for whatever reason, and it still wouldn’t be OP’s business. Her telling him is super rude and inappropriate.”

“It seems like she’s interested in the coworker. Back down, OP. He’s not interested in you, and even if he was, any attraction he had would be wiped out by your overstepping his boundaries.” – GoodGirlsGrace

Others agreed and said the OP’s ulterior motive was obvious.

“My first thought was that OP’s problem with the ring is that she ‘can’t’ hit on him because of it, that she is salty he is not interested in her, and he is not available.”

“OP wants to consider him single and ready to mingle instead of widowed. She is salty he is emotionally unavailable for her and hates to be reminded of it whenever she sees that ring, hates that she can’t just ‘forget’ his wife ever existed (and hates he can’t just forget his wife ever existed).”

“The good news for the co-worker is that now OP will never get into his pants after this! OP just saved him from ever making the mistake of getting together with OP. YTA. I hope he goes to HR because of this!” – Cute-Shine-1701

“She’s 32 and single; I’d say she definitely saw him as fresh meat. Seems he found out why.” – biteme789

“The reason she’s calling this ‘misleading’ is because it misled her to believe he’s still married when OP wanted to go after him. Well, good on you for showing your a**, OP. Now James knows to steer far, faaaaaaaaar away from you.”

“YTA.” – ehwhythough

“By asking why he still wears his ring while knowing full well he’s a widower, her conversation basically boils down to, ‘Aren’t you over her enough to stop wearing her ring?'”

“I’m sure James felt an implied, ‘she’s dead and not coming back’ vibe from OP. I’m sure that’s why the lunchroom got so hushed. Everyone was probably in shock that OP would be tasteless and tactless enough to pry that deep with a new coworker.”

“Absolutely reprehensible, YTA.” – Vaidurya

“What the f**k is this ‘Well, she’s dead so you’re being misleading to everyone’ bulls**t?”

“He isn’t divorced, he’s widowed. The marriage hasn’t been dissolved in a legal process. It’s come to a natural end but it’s not gone or over as long as he feels he’s still bound by it.”

“Some widowers don’t move on for a long while. Some widowers never move on. However they feel about moving on is OK.” – Normal-Height-8577

The subReddit was absolutely appalled by the OP’s words to her new coworker and how she could justify saying such things to a widower.

Many assumed the OP was attracted to their coworker and upset that he was not “letting go” of his marital status as quickly as she desired. Ironically, however, if this were her motivation, she just destroyed any chance she had of going on a date with him.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.