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Woman's BF gives friend irreplaceable family heirloom for her birthday; 'what does this mean?' + Update

Woman's BF gives friend irreplaceable family heirloom for her birthday; 'what does this mean?' + Update

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"My (26F) friend's (26F) boyfriend (28M) gave me an inappropriately expensive gift for my birthday. How do I react?"

Beneficial_Hall_5320

Last week, I celebrated my birthday with my friend group. We're all fairly close, and whilst we've never discussed presents/gifts explicitly, we all kind of naturally fell into an unspoken pattern around what kind of birthday gifts we give to each other: we do gifts, but they're usually in the 10-40 Euro range.

Think things like a book, a voucher for theater tickets, maybe a nice bottle of wine. That kind of stuff. We're all young professionals or grad students, and that just fits our general income level.

A good friend of mine brought her boyfriend to the party, and he gave me a gift of his own, separate from my friend's. Without going into too much detail, it was a small object that had a very thoughtful connection to a trip I took in winter. I was genuinely very thankful for the gift and thought it was lovely.

However, when I unpacked the item at home, something about it just caught my eye. Certain parts of the item that I would have expected to be made of glass didn't....look like glass. I ended up googling the maker's mark on the bottom and found the exact same item online, for the price of....750 Euros!

Now. It'd be one thing if this guy was a trust fund kid for whom that kind of money was just peanuts. I'd still feel uncomfortable, but at least there'd be some logic to this then.

But my friend's relationship with this guy already has massive problems, largely centred around him being underemployed and making her pick up the tab for their shared lifestyle to an undue degree.

We honestly all expect the relationship to fizzle out soon, because they obviously aren't compatible in some key aspects. So now I've got this 750-Euro-item on my shelf, and I've no clue how to handle this.

It feels extremely inappropriate to have this thing. I'd feel uncomfortable accepting this sort of gift from almost anyone I know, but the fact that it's a) a friend's romantic partner (I'm gay and her boyfriend knows, but still)

And b) said friend has issues with her partner's handling of his finances just makes it even worse. It's also a highly specific item that I don't think he'd be likely to just have, so I'm pretty certain he must have bought this for the occasion and must be aware of its value.

What do I do? My friend seems to be totally unaware of the value of the item. Do I tell her? Do I contact the boyfriend and ask him what he was thinking? How would you handle this?

Here were the top rated comments from readers after the OP's initial post:

RantyMcThrowaway

I'd bring it up with your friend. There is a CHANCE that he got a really, really good deal, or even a decent knock off at a lower price. But honestly, if he's bad with money, even something half that price would be pretty inappropriate.

Talk to your friend and offer to return the gift if it turns out to have cost as much as you suspect it did. Let them know you are incredibly grateful for his thoughtfulness, but it wouldn't feel right accepting such a lavish gift and that their company and friendship is all that you ask for. Just be honest about how you feel and let your friend decide how she wants to proceed.

girlyfoodadventures

My thought was that it's possible he got it at a second hand/thrift shop. In my experience, thrift shop pricers are not thinking at all about how much something cost initially- there will be plastic cups and plates ikea sells for 25-50¢ labeled as a dollar, and something obviously nice might get flagged, but is more likely to just be labled 10$.

The OP responded here:

Beneficial_Hall_5320

Yeah, I think I'll have to have a discussion with my friend - I also considered that he might have got some kind of BIZARRELY amazing deal, and spent all of yesterday night googling around for auctioning sites and checking whether there might be a chance he bought this without knowing what it was and how much it was worth.

I'm pretty sure, though, that unless something genuinely absurd happened, he must have paid at least 500 EUR for this, and even that's a VERY generously low estimate.

There is, of course, a chance that he just had this item, but it's so specific and rare that I don't think some random pseudo-finance bro just has this in his house, sees it, and thinks:

'huh. it's my girlfriend's friends birthday, that might be a good chance to get rid of this'. Totally bizarre behaviour. I don't know what this man was thinking, but I need this thing out of my house.

kei-bei

Another take - could it have been an inheritance/hand me down he had that he didn't have an interest in keeping and your friend knew you'd genuinely be interested in? I've had friends regift me things from their relatives simply because "I'd love it harder" which I think is the sweetest thing (and always true 😅)

Two months later, the OP returned with an update.

"UPDATE: My friend's boyfriend gave me an inappropriately expensive birthday gift (turns out he stole it. From his MUM.)"

Beneficial_Hall_5320

To summarise the original post: My (26F) friend's (26F) perpetually broke boyfriend (28M) gave me a gift for my birthday. It initially looked like a thoughtfully chosen, normal gift with a lovely connection to a recent trip to my mother's homecountry I took in winter, but after growing suspicious of the quality of the materials, I realised that it was in fact an antique worth hundreds of Euros.

Theories as to what happened included him not being aware of the item's value, possibly having bought it from someone who didn't know what they were selling, or him trying to somehow hurt his girlfriend/my friend and/or trying to hit on me in a bizarre, inappropriate way.

I ended up texting my friend and telling her that I had researched the gift and discovered it was worth a very inappropriate amount of money. She was VERY surprised by the entire situation, especially considering her boyfriend (now ex, but more on that later) is perpetually broke and makes her foot the bill for their shared lifestyle.

She came over to my place and together, we called him on speakerphone, where she demanded some answers. Long story short: He STOLE it. From his OWN MOTHER. He's still being a bit shady about some details, but we managed to piece together the sequence of events to a satisfactory degree:

My friend was supposed to be coming to my birthday party straight from work. When she left her office, she realised she had forgotten the gift she had planned for me (a book) at home.

Since she was already running late and her place is pretty far from both her work and my flat, she chose to text her boyfriend, who was having dinner at his parent's home at the time. She knew he was there, and knew his parents live close to me, so she asked him to just buy a copy of the same book at a bookshop on his way to my place so they'd have a gift.

For reasons known only to him, he did not choose this simple, reasonable solution to the 'we forgot our gift' issue. Instead of leaving five minutes early to pick up another copy of the book, he chose to just GRAB A RANDOM ITEM OFF HIS MOTHER'S LIVING ROOM SHELF. WITHOUT ASKING HER.

He had no idea what it was, just thought it looked pretty, took it, and stuffed it in a paper bag. He also did not text back my friend or react to her calls, so she (reasonably) assumed he hadn't read her message and ended up going BACK to get the book, which was why they arrived separately and with separate gifts.

Meanwhile, the boyfriend had unknowingly gifted me not just any antique, no! This item had been passed down to his mother from her THREE-TIMES-GREAT-GRANDMOTHER.

It had been in his family's possession for literal centuries, and was the ONLY tangible connection she (his mother) still had to her homecountry, which, incidentally, is also my mother's homecountry - which he wasn't aware of, meaning that what I thought was a thoughtful connection to my trip there was a total coincidence! He had no idea of the item's cultural significance.

My friend immediately made him call his mum to fess up to the entire situation. His mother had been running herself ragged trying to figure out where this item disappeared to for DAYS.

Obviously, she never suspected thievery, and was blaming herself terribly for having lost something this important. The boyfriend ACTUALLY HAD THE GALL to try to convince her not to call his mum! He wanted to sweep the entire thing under the rug! Of course, we didn't let that happen.

His mother came by my place this morning and I returned the item to her, along with some apologies for not starting investigations immediately and some nice chocolate. We had a lovely conversation about our shared cultural heritage.

I assured her that the item had been treated with dignity for the entire time it was in my possession and we parted ways with a hug. She also told me that my initial estimate of the item's value was incorrect- it's actually worth EVEN MORE money. It would probably sell for a four-figure sum at auction.

I don't know what she wants to do with her son, but my friend, for obvious reasons, broke up with him. Lessons learned: Google suspicious gifts, and lock away your sentimentals/valuables when people you're not entirely sure about come over. The GALL of this man.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:

crazycatlorde

Firstly, good on you! Secondly, good on your friend for breaking up with this dope. Thirdly, I laugh at the implication that one should lock valuables away from people you’re not entirely sure about if that person is your own child 😅

The OP responded here:

Beneficial_Hall_5320

True! That poor woman obviously wouldn't have thought her own son would be running around grabbing random things off her shelves! I still ended up checking all of my stuff, considering he appears to have sticky fingers and spent hours in my flat basically unsupervised on my birthday.

I'll grow much more cautious with my valuables when having groups over from now on, especially if the group includes friends' partners who I might not know that well!

kittyroux

It’s so hard to know who you can‘t trust. One of my mom’s coworkers arrived at her wedding reception venue early, offered to help set up chairs, and stole one of the bridesmaids’ gifts and all four of the groomsmen’s gifts which had been set on their plates at the head table.

What did Denise the Dental Receptionist need with four bottles of men’s fragrance? No idea, but the thief was discovered when she invited all her coworkers, including my mom, to her birthday party at her place. There was a basket containing four colognes—weirdly the same ones mom bought for her bridal party!—in the guest bathroom.

bee102019

Yikes. What a turd. I'm glad she broke up with him!

The OP again responded:

Beneficial_Hall_5320

Me, too! We all thought he was a bit off, and the relationship already had its issues, but none of us thought he'd be the type to pull that kind of nonsense. He's still being a bit shady as to why he didn't just buy another copy of the book - theories include him not wanting to spend money, him literally not having the money to spend, and sheer laziness.

HatsAndTopcoats

I think my favorite aspect, for how it really drives home what a dumb loser this guy was, is that he didn't even take the time to look for a trinket that he thought his mother might not miss or care much about.

He literally just took the first thing he saw, probably prominently displayed, and assumed that it would be fine. I expect that he had no idea what this item meant to her because he'd never bothered to care when she mentioned it.

He didn't consider any of this stuff -- including what you or your friend might think -- because it would require putting himself in the mindset of other people and I bet that's not something he ever does.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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