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Friends and Family Everyone has disagreements, even best friends and family. If you need advice about a relationship, ask us here.

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VampirePrincess Offline
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Gifts - January 16th 2011, 08:44 AM

I'm not sure this is in the right place - feel free to move it.

I recently received a gift from my best friend. He has had it for about a month and has been forgetting to give it to me. It is very obviously a gift his parents picked out and bought. I know they have been pressuring my friend to ask me out, and I feel that this gift is an attempt to make him seem like a good catch.

Here's my problem. The gift is very, very expensive. I won't say how much exactly, but it's up in the hundreds. I recognized the value of the brand name, if you're wondering how I know that. And it's not something I like all that much. I really do not feel that his family can afford that, and I wonder if I can return it.

I know it's bad manners to refuse a gift, and there may be some cultural implications too (for security reasons I won't be saying which culture, but if you feel you can help in that department please send me a private message). I know a lot of people would say to take it, but I feel so guilty keeping something that would cost someone so much and never using it. But, I also feel guilty insulting my friend or his parents by saying I can't accept it.

His parents don't speak English, so talking directly to them is out of the question. Talking to my friend is simply awkward...I have been staring at my phone and fretting about what to tell him. I finally decided on telling him that I like it...I can always bring up the cost later, if I decide to.

I just don't know what to do. This is not a problem I normally have - I have a strict "no gift" policy, if people want to buy gifts for me I make them donate the money they would have used to the animal shelter. My friends know about it, so if I get a gift from them it's something they made themselves, something they know I really wanted, or it's dirt cheap. I don't usually refuse those, simply because I figure if they know about the policy and still want to give me something, they must really want me to have it.

I know you must be thinking by that rule, I should accept the gift, but since it was picked out by people who know nothing of my gift policy, and it's 10 times more expensive than what I would ever spend, I think I have to ignore that at the moment.

So...I'm back to, what should I do? Should I keep or return, and if I decide to return how do I do that? If I keep, how do I explain not using it? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Gifts - January 16th 2011, 09:04 PM

Hmmm... that IS a tough one. =/ Has he given you the gift yet? If not, the next time he mentions it, I would say something like, "I appreciate the thought you/your parents put into picking out this gift, but I'm afraid I can't accept it." If he already gave you the gift, bring it with you the next time you see him and return it then. I would stick with the simplest response possible: you don't accept gifts from friends, and you hope he (and his parents) will respect your wishes. I wouldn't say anything about donating the money to the animal shelter, because after one month, it might be too late for him to return the gift and get his money back.

If he insists you need to accept the gift for cultural reasons, explain that you understand and respect his family's culture, but that your beliefs about accepting gifts are just as strong as his family's belief about giving gifts. Just because there's "culture" behind the gift-giving doesn't mean your feelings are any less important, you know? =) If he cherishes your friendship, he will accept your feelings. You could also counter by saying you'd be willing to accept a hand-made gift, or maybe dinner with him (either at home or at a restaurant). That way, he still has the opportunity to fulfill any cultural expectations by having you over for dinner.

Good luck!

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Re: Gifts - January 17th 2011, 07:48 AM

If you like him and are willing to go out with him, you could return the gift saying you appreciate the gift but the gift you put more value toward is having him as a close friend and being accepted into his family. I think any culture would value that because after all, that's the goal of the gift. I wouldn't mention the gift is too expensive and you feel guilty about not taking it because depending on the culture, it would be seen as an insult by belittling the family. This way there is less clashing between cultures and you still get to feel less guilty.

It may also be a good idea to google the culture and read about the implications of you refusing it for any reason and the most appropriate way to refuse it. Consider those results in your calculations.

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Re: Gifts - January 17th 2011, 08:47 AM

Thanks for your responses and your advice!

Robin, thank you for reminding me about my feelings My feelings tend to get lost in the mix. I spend so much time worrying about others that I forget about myself! Yes, he has given me the gift already. Thinking it was a silly friend gift, and being an hour late for coming home, I...took it and ran, so to speak. Which is probably better, I have no idea what I would have done if I had opened it right in front of him.

WOW!USaidSomethingSmart!, thanks so much for your advice on further calculating what to do. That's really helpful

*cough* now this is part two of wondering if I should return the gift, now that I've had enough time to calm down and think through the possibilities that accompany both options. It's long, so please don't feel like you have to read it.

My parents have decided that I'm pretty much stuck, and should keep the gift. His mother does work at the place where it was purchased (I think, anyway....he just said something like that but his English isn't great, so I can't say for sure), and the discount would be pretty good. Making it...not so expensive, I suppose. But I still want to return it, for a variety of other reasons. I'll put the main one here.

The day he gave me a gift, he acted very strange. We had agreed in advance that I would pay for this meal - since he paid entirely for the last one we had, which came to $30, and his parents were apparently annoyed at him using his credit card for such a large amount. I expected him to order like he does every time - basically pick an item he likes, clean his plate, and eat later at home or on his own money if he's still hungry. This time he assured me he wasn't trying to take advantage of my money, picked the most expensive item on the menu, barely ate any of it, and proceeded to order a second meal. The bill came out to $50, and he offered to help...then said he only carried $5 with him. Needless to say, I am not happy.

So, why is he doing it? Two reasons. First, revenge...I only had $5 with me on the day he paid,, maybe he was thinking to charge the same amount to count us as totally even. But the second (and knowing him, more likely reason), THAT DARN GIFT. Somewhere in his mind he has decided that I owe him back for it, bit by bit. Now, I am hoping that's the last of it, that he'll go back to acting normal and I'll get my friend back. But I can't depend on that, certainly. I can't even depend on that if I return it, it may even get worse if I do that!

I don't want to lose a friendship over something as stupid as this, especially since we have been best friends for 5 years. I know I can't erase that ugly side of him I saw the other day, but I at least want to be prepared for it, and be prepared for what's to come. Do you think his behavior will get worse if I return the gift, or do you think it will improve?

On the bright side, there seem to be no implications of the gift itself. I forgot my father has friends in that country, and he called them up tonight to ask them about the culture side of it. I'm not like, promising my hand in marriage or something like that if I accept the gift. Returning the gift, however, is equal to spitting in his face and also will deny karma the chance to reward him for this action. The only way to refuse would be to refuse immediately upon receiving the gift.

As I said earlier, my parents have decided I need to keep the gift and just ask him to not do something like that again unless he's buying me an engagement ring (they think they're so funny -_-), so I may end up being stuck keeping it regardless of what I think. But if that's the case, I need to be prepared for how to follow up with that situation.

I'm sure you can tell I'm still worrying about this regardless...I take way too much time thinking about these sorts of things. Again, thanks for all the help!

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