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The business of fake wedding rings

Categories: Business tripping, Fighting the Stereotype

36 comments

My business meeting checklist:

  • Macbook (remember projector adapter and charger in case the laptop starts to fade mid-presentation)
  • Blackberry (remember to sync with calendar before getting on the plane; I’ll undoubtedly need the phone number of the media buyer of the second meeting or to triple-check the time of my fourth meeting)
  • A pair of flats in case I find myself lost in heels (San Francisco is hilly)
  • My engagement ring

One of these things is not like the other, of course, and it comes in the form of a still-sparkly solitaire that was worn for a painfully short period of time.

I didn’t give my son’s Father back his ring when we parted ways. He didn’t want it and neither did I but it didn’t seem couth to throw it in the garbage disposal. Nor was it appealing to change it into a pendant or a pair of glittery earrings; that would be like wearing my failure, my guilt like a tarnished badge on my face. So I banished it to the bottom of my ramshackle jewelry box, next to chunky necklaces and ensnared between beaded bracelets. I had no idea that, a year and a half later, I’d be fishing that ring out, putting it on my finger, and taking it with me to business meetings.

***

I’m in corporate sales, and have been for the last ten years. I suspect that many think that there is technique and finesse and plotting involved in sales — and I guess to a degree there is — but the bottom line of my job is that I need to make people like me. If they like and trust me, they’ll be more likely to buy my product. If they feel an affinity with me, they’ll go out of their way to give me an advantage, a leg up over my competitor with the surly attitude and bad breath. Of course product is important, too, but business lunches and dinners are all about bonding.

And bonding, of course, occurs when comfortable conversation transpires and I have learned that business acquaintances are much more at ease when they learn I have a child if I am wearing my ring on my wedding finger.

It’s not that I lie and say that I’m married, but the ring creates the assumption that I am, and I’ve found, for surface-level business conversation, it’s easier that way. I don’t wonder whether my prospective customer thinks I have left my kid at home with an incompetent babysitter while I flit around the Pacific Coast in pinstripes. I don’t analyze whether he thinks I will be too busy juggling solo to adequately handle his account. If our business relationship deepens to comeraderie, he may learn I’m a single Mom and that’s OK. Some single Moms just like decorative rings. On their wedding fingers. Right?

I realize this is a bit of a crutch for me, and time and distance will give me confidence to place the ring back in its rightful home in my disgruntled jewelry box. But for now, it also comes in pretty handy for those plane rides home, when I’m looking to avoid conversation with my single eager seatmate, and close my eyes and dream about going home to hug my son.



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36 comments so far...

  • I wish I could scream, “trade in the ring! Forget about what people think!” But I work on the other side of the table, a lot people try to sell to me as a media planner. I work with a lot of closed minded/old fashion people who make it a hobby to gossip about sales reps.

    I wish it was different.

    Alaina  |  June 1st, 2008 at 9:09 pm

  • It’s deceptive and that, in my opinion, counts as lying. I wouldn’t do it but to each their own.

    KathyHowe  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 1:58 pm

  • Exactly. To each their own. I color my hair blond and don’t go around announcing it(generally). I guess I’m a deceptive liar-face too. It’s really nobody else’s business anyway, but like Alaina implied, it is the way it is. What would people do if they couldn’t have their noses shoved in everyone else’s business? They would have nobody to judge but themselves, and that would be just devastating!!(can you sense the sarcasm?). I’ve done this Kristin and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m more ashamed for the close minded people we do it for.

    Miranda  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  • Deceptive liar - I love that.

    Dude, I am totally not married (but with my sons father for 12 years now) and I get this look all the time when people see a very young looking pregnant me with my son at a store - WITH NO RING! The old ladies are the worst.

    I do have a ring I use for different things like conferences, car shopping and business meetings. I find people question me less that way.

    Sleepynita  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 5:28 pm

  • I wouldn’t think it would be any more deceptive than when I forget to wear my wedding rings and go around for days without them. OMG am I lying and pretending to be single???

    I mean it’s not as if you are walking around with a wedding photo album filled with photo shopped pictures of yourself.

    It is silencing the questions that have no business being asked anyway.

    chrisjordan  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 7:24 pm

  • When I was single, I traveled all over the world for my work. And I NEVER left home without my silver wedding band firmly placed on my left hand. Was it lying? Perhaps, although the message that I was “unavailable” was loud and clear. Traveling in foreign countries, some of which I didn’t speak the local language, it was very convenient just to flash my left hand at an unwelcome suitor. And it invariably did the trick.

    karenwalrond  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 10:02 pm

  • Well said, Chris Jordan. She’s silencing inappropriate questions and by doing so, bringing the focus back to what’s important- the fact that she’s kick ass at both her jobs - being a mom and a sales person.

    If I was in your place, Kristin, I think I would do the same thing.

    Tamara  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 10:09 pm

  • Ahhh…I’m cracking up at the deceptive-liar face comment!

    I actually think this is pretty wise of you and am going to recommend it to a single mama friend of mine.

    It is sad that there is this *need* but while it exists I don’t see anything wrong with a silent bit of jewelry to ease other’s minds.

    My husband doesn’t even HAVE a wedding ring (lost it years ago). Does that make him any LESS married? Or a deceptive liar himself? Don’t think so.

    Rock it Mama.

    Ashlee  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 10:10 pm

  • I say trade it in, buy a shiny, new ring for yourself (Lord knows you deserve it), and wear that! It’s still a ring you can wear, but at least it won’t be from the ex. But also, NEW! SHINY! BLING!

    Allison  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 11:29 pm

  • My husband and I were pretty young when we got engaged. All the women that I worked with, as clients, were single and I would often take my engagement ring off at meetings. Once we got married I stopped this but I found it helped put us all on the same level and avoid any jealousy, etc.

    Nataly  |  June 4th, 2008 at 7:07 am

  • I’m with Ashlee. My husband never ever wears his wedding band - He works with his hands a lot and a million years ago one of his buddies almost lost a finger working on equipment when his ring got caught. That scared him off rings forever. It never even occured to me that someone would think he was deceptive for not wearing his ring. Ridiculous. I think you’re right on target wearing your ring; it’s unfortunate that you get judged but that is a great way to handle it.

    Nancy  |  June 4th, 2008 at 6:14 pm

  • I am absolutely shocked.

    You are a single mom and you are implying that by telling people that you’re a single mom … you will lose business or not make a sale or that they won’t trust you???!!!!

    Try to think about it this way - a strong, confident, intelligent and successful woman who - go figure - is also a single mom? Wow. An entire room of people change their attitude or correct their false stereotype about who or what single moms are like.

    Now, the plane ride - I can understand.

    But, seriously, I have one question for you - have any of these thoughts you imagine them thinking ever been voiced to you? Sounds to me like you are creating these negative thoughts and turning them into a reality.

    Or, perhaps I live in a bubble … but my bubble just got me a promotion. Don’t be ashamed to be a single mom, please … be proud - you should be proud! Being a single mom is one of THE hardest jobs on the planet.

    Ms. Single Mama  |  June 8th, 2008 at 3:47 am

  • I am a single mother, and I have a beautiful ring my father bought me for my high school graduation, that could pass as a wedding/anniversary ring. Most of the time it is on my right ring-finger….but there are occasions where I wear it on my left hand. It may be deceptive, but it doesn’t harm anyone. I usually slip it on my finger when I am out shopping at the mall, or the grocery store….or if I am going out with my girlfriends. I don’t see the harm in it.

    Modern Mom, LLC  |  June 9th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

  • Ms. Single mama, your post was very inspiring, and I feel empowered just reading it…unfortunately not all of us are as confident as we should be or would like to be.
    Although I believe we create our reality to an extend, I also know that there are many judgemental people that are just too set in their ways to be swayed by a strong, independent single mama.
    I totally respect where your coming from, all of us single mama’s have to rise above it and stand proudly in the face of ignorance. Your post made me a little more confident it my rough and tough role as a single mommy. Thank You!

    Miranda  |  June 9th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  • The interesting thing in all of this is — I’m a pretty confident woman. No one’s ever accused me of being a shrinking violet: I’m pretty fearless in what I believe and what I say. By wearing a ring in a business setting, I’m making a conscious decision to keep the conversation around business only. What works for one, doesn’t always work for another and I totally and completely get that.

    Kristin  |  June 9th, 2008 at 10:40 pm

  • Kristen -

    But how, if you don’t wear one, is the conversation going to keep you from making a sale? That’s what your post is implying - that you feel single moms are perceived as untrustworthy.

    Are you saying that if you don’t wear the ring conversation turns to you being a single mom?

    I never wear a ring during biz meetings and my meetings are always about biz, not about the fact that I’m a single mom.

    You say you are confident but you must have some insecurities about being a single mother. Or, if you’re really wearing the ring to keep men from hitting on you during biz meetings than that is a different story.

    Ms. Single Mama  |  June 10th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

  • I wouldn’t make the blanket generalization that single moms are perceived as untrustworthy. Quite the contrary: I believe, since they are often reliant on their own success to single-handedly support their children — they are very reliable.

    I’m not saying that if I don’t wear the ring, conversation turns to my being a single Mom — but it has, in past, and I’d rather not go there again.

    To each her own. And yes, the ring also helps with unwanted advances, but that’s a whole other story.

    Kristin  |  June 10th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

  • Okay. Then perhaps this topic should be about how to best handle that conversation when it comes up … not on how to duck from it.

    And, you were implying that single moms are perceived by others as untrustworthy, hence you wearing your wedding ring:

    “If they like and trust me, they’ll be more likely to buy my product. ”

    Meaning if you don’t have the ring on then you’re untrustworthy?

    Ms. Single Mama  |  June 10th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

  • Ah, Ms. Single Mama. This whole article was on something I do to make me feel less judged and comfortable in a business situation. It’s not a statement against all single Mamas, it just works for me.

    Obviously, the judgment comes from all sides, not just married executives in the boardroom.

    Kristin  |  June 10th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

  • As a single dad, I totally get what MsSingleMama is saying. I certainly feel discriminated against and judged for being a single dad, all the time.

    But like Miranda said, not everyone can carry the strong-voiced passionate banner for a cause.

    If Kirsten senses her corporate accounts are more comfortable when she has a ring on her finger, then she has every right to make that choice. It’s not a smack against all single moms. It doesn’t say single moms are weak or untrustworthy. It just says Kirsten is more comfortable in the environments where she does business if she has that bling on her finger.

    I’ve seen comments about this topic on other blogs, and I cringe at the mob mentality that seems to be forming. Putting others down to lift yourself up is never good. I don’t belittle other single dads who say nothing when the schools or their ex’s deny them communication. I simply address the issue as it happens to me, and move on.

    Kirsten - do your thing. You can’t fight every fight. Others perhaps can seek to understand your situation and offer some compassion.

    dadshouse  |  June 11th, 2008 at 10:33 am

  • Yea Kristin, what he said, do you thing. There are a lot of us out there that understand where your coming from. Those who want to judge what you do to feel comfortable are not credible because they are not you, and they’ve not walked a day in your shoes. In addition, I love your posts and think of you blogs as great support in the realm of ‘I’m not alone in this’. Do your thang girl!

    Miranda  |  June 12th, 2008 at 12:24 pm

  • I’m not a parent, but I also have a ring that works as a wedding ring, that I wear to some work conferences, plane rides, etc. I have a friend who does training and presentations- a very visible, public job- and she wears her old wedding ring (divorced) along with a few other rings. To me it just means, I’m not available, and also, “don’t ask me about my personal life”- ha- which probably with my fidgeting with it all the time belies the fact that it’s temporary. Anyways, I say, work the image that you need to portray to get your job done, and as long as you don’t let it integrate to much into your regular life, it’s a safe tool to use. Deceptive? Yep. But very practical, too.

    Anna  |  June 12th, 2008 at 12:36 pm

  • I have written eleventyhundred comments here as I relate from my period as a single mother, but I have to say it: Ms. Single Mama has pissed me off to the point that I can’t seem to write a reasonable comment.

    Just know that I know you are not ashamed of being a single mother, you don’t have to carry a banner for single moms while you are just trying to earn a living for you and your son and that some people who are appalled at your tactics to avoid judgment are pretty judgmental themselves.

    Loralee  |  June 13th, 2008 at 1:25 am

  • [...] mssinglemama I didn’t realize what a passionate and proud single parent I’ve become until I read this. And now, Kristen is linking to this blog from hers! Hello [...]

    On fake wedding rings. « Ms. Single Mama  |  June 13th, 2008 at 7:21 am

  • Hi, Kristen, found your blog via mssinglemama. I left a comment for both of you on there, but I figured I’d comment here too.

    Okay, so I’m a single professional (male) and I interact with many outsiders during the course of my week. I don’t do sales, but I’m kind of a face-to-face recruiter. If I interacted with an attractive, presumably single woman, I would hit on her. No doubt about it. I’m single, and I consider it my job as a man to get dates. Is it unprofessional? Sure, but many people have gotten together in this fashion. You can read plenty of dating advice that suggests connecting with the opposite sex during your daily travels.

    I totally agree with your tactic of wearing the ring. There’s nothing dishonorable or dishonest about it. It’s your business, and if it helps you get what you want professionally, more power to you. Hey, business is cutthroat, which means you gotta be cutthroat also. There’s no doubt that the corporate world is still an old boys club. If anyone denies that, they’re naive. I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s part of he game whether we like it or not.

    I also wear earrings when I go out, but I don’t wear them when meeting potential customers. Why? There’s bit of a stigma attached to a man who wears earrings.

    I admire your social savvy and respect you for it.

    Just for the record, I’m also a budding pickup artist in my off-hours.

    Great blog!

    Lance  |  June 16th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  • [...] last but not least. There’s a great post and debate on Kristen Darguzas’ blog about whether a divorced woman in a corporate environment should wear a wedding ring in order to [...]

    Weekend Roundup: Hot Seminarian Edition | Honey and Lance  |  June 17th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

  • I have a plain silver band that I bought because I thought it was cute, simple. I’m single, but when I get into a situation I don’t want to get hit on in, I’ll slip it on to the wedding finger… sometimes underneath a bar table. When a raunchy guy asks for my number or to dance, I just wiggle the finger. I don’t say I’m married - the wiggle does it all. Who gives a f* if it’s deceptive? And yes, in business situations, due to my youthful looks (at 26 I look a whopping 19), it matures me, especially in an area of the country where something like 70% of adults are married (south Texas).

    Holly Hoffman  |  June 17th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  • [...] had her hand in her lap the whole time, and scoping out a ring would have been so obvious. Plus, sometimes women wear rings when they aren’t married, to ward off [...]

    How To Pick-Up a Woman in Front of Your Son « Dad’s House  |  June 20th, 2008 at 7:42 am

  • I started to read comments, because this is such an interesting topic, but then I hit the first really bad one and decided to give my pounding heart a break. Instead I’ll just say what I think, which is that I agree with Chris Jordan. I think questions about marital status and childbearing status are wildly inappropriate in work settings. If the ring stifles them (NO ONE should be concerned with your single-motherhood status in the workplace. NO ONE. Of course, saying “should” doesn’t make it so. Unfortunately.), that’s a positive.

    swistle  |  July 2nd, 2008 at 9:48 am

  • I am a single mom and have been for five years now. I am also a teacher. If I had a ring to explain away my situation I think I would use it, after all it’s not anyone’s business but your own. Especially when people feel compelled to pry into your personal life instead of focusing on the professional reason for your being there!

    I think I might go out and buy myself a ring…

    Natalia  |  July 20th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

  • [...] had her hand in her lap the whole time, and scoping out a ring would have been so obvious. Plus, sometimes women wear rings when they aren’t married, to ward off men. (Just as sometimes men don’t wear rings when they [...]

    blog-thing : How To Pick-Up a Woman in Front of Your Son  |  September 2nd, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  • Wow - it’s sad that you have to do that, but I totally understand it too.

    Tabitha @ http://www.fromsingletomarried.com

    Tabitha  |  September 29th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

  • I’m new to this site, so I just read this article, but I wanted to chime in here. I also occasionally wear a “fake” wedding ring as well, but for different reasons. My boyfriend/partner and I (I’m 32, he’s 43 and we’ve been together for 5 1/2 years), have an 18 month old daughter and I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with our second child. When I was pregnant with our daughter, and several times when I have been out and about with her on my own, I have sported a “fake” wedding ring on my ring finger to preclude any stares or judgment. It would be nice to think that people don’t have pre-judgments about pregnant women, or women with children who are unmarried, but the fact of the matter is, they do. I have noticed many times at the checkout line in a grocery store, or when I’m at the playground with my daughter, I do get those questioning looks. Especially, I think, because I’m white and my daughter’s dad is African American. There is a pre-conceived notion that black men don’t take care of their children, and that couldn’t be more untrue in my case. My daughter’s dad is amazing and couldn’t possibly be more involved in her life… but how do you tell that to someone who doesn’t know us, and is giving you dirty looks thinking “there’s another one…” I don’t want people to assume my daughter doesn’t have a dad, or feel sorry for her, or whatever. I would rather be a little dishonest and wear a ring and not let those thoughts even enter people’s heads. I can assure you that as my pregnancy becomes more obvious, and I am out with my daughter, and my big beautiful belly, I will be wearing that ring more often. And, I will not feel bad about it, or feel deceptive at all!

    Hadey  |  January 15th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

  • Ahhhh….not exactly in the same situation, but I see it (meaning the fact that your perceived personal life can and will find its way into the various office gossip pools when you work in my field in sales) everyday and understand completely.

    And sleepynita, you are SO correct that the “old ladies” are the worst. I was cleaning house one weekend morning, when my mop handle snapped. My 8 mo. pregnant self left for the store without much thought, but I was wearing: pigtails, sweat pants, and a young-ish shirt; with none of my jewelry on.

    In the cleaning supplies aisle, I overhear bits of a snark that I’m supposed to overhear, apparently “….teenaged mother…no ring….welfare…bonbons…do nothing….no education….”. I stare at the ol’ crabapple in question til she looks up and says “what? I AM referring to you, little missy, sucker of my tax dollars!”

    So I promptly informed her if it was ANY of her business, I’m 30 years old, have a BS, work in a male-dominated field and likely make more money than she could dream of doing, and am married, so kiss my derriere, as I pay a decent amount into her social security.

    CV  |  April 21st, 2009 at 8:02 am

  • I believe that being a mother is really hard, that’s why I salute all mothers in the world.

    Pamela Ponce  |  February 10th, 2010 at 1:49 am

  • I think those of you who agree with this “tactic” ought to be ashamed of yourselves. But I can tell by your comments that you’re all a little too self-righteous to be ashamed of anything you do. Wearing a wedding ring in order to give a false impression to someone–or a group of someones–in order to get their money or business not only makes you a con artist, it also makes you a whore to your work. Jeeze, if you can’t live your life honestly, then maybe you’re living the wrong life! If you can’t be proud of what you’re doing–to the point where you’d post about your problem online in order to gain support, then maybe you’re feeling guilty for a reason. No, people who choose not to wear their wedding bands because of safety (or losing it) aren’t dishonestly giving off an impression of being single–unless they’re lieing about having lost it or not wearing because of safety. And you can’t compare the two instances. It’s all about principal and moral standards. If you’re happy for your Son to pick up the torch and carry on with a life such as yours–that he has to be secretive in order to impress people in order to make a living, hey, carry on! Says a lot for the amount of virtue in your household.

    Mark  |  May 10th, 2010 at 9:22 am

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