wedding_bandsPrince William doesn’t wear one. Nor does President Trump.

With public figures including Jay-Z and actor Will Smith opting to go out in public without a wedding band on their left hands, you’d be forgiven for pondering whether this a movement that will trickle down to the general population.

While traditions vary from culture to culture, the concept of a woman wearing a ring as a sign of betrothal and fidelity is ancient. For men in the West, it is a more recently adopted practice, one with its popular beginnings in the mid-twentieth century. What began as a reminder of one’s spouse for enlisted men away at war, today has become an accepted and commonplace means of signaling a male’s marital status.

Although men who eschew wedding rings have a variety of reasons for abstaining—from their dislike of jewelry to workday hazards to their desire to appear available, from an etiquette standpoint, I think it’s ill-advised. The best rules of etiquette exist to prevent confusion and mixed messages. Going ringless may not matter for a man who is widely known to be married due to his presence in the public eye. For the rest of the married-male populace, the facts are not so apparent. (Although, as previously indicated, that may in fact be the goal.)

With that said, it is for each couple to decide, and providing both individuals are comfortable with one or both partners not wearing a ring, that is their prerogative. Of course, going ringless is going to leave countless men across America with one less thing to fidget with, i.e., no more ring to remove and spin like a toy.

Lastly, unless married men not wearing a wedding ring truly becomes the rule rather than the exception, they had best be prepared to do some explaining when the topic of relationship status comes up with new acquaintances.