by: Wayne and Tamara
Direct Answers - Column for the week of December 16, 2002
I recently went on a date with this guy I met online. We had been emailing for a few weeks before we decided to go out together.
We met at a restaurant, and he brought me a huge vase of flowers. He was sweet, polite and gentlemanly toward me and our conversation was good. But I felt embarrassed by all the attention given to me by the waitresses and bus staff regarding the flowers.
That's not even the whole story. You see, at the end of the date, this guy drove me home and got this huge box out of the trunk. He said he had gotten something else besides the flowers. We went in the house, I opened the box, and it was a DVD player!
I told him I couldn't accept such an expensive gift, but he refused to take it back. My family keeps telling me to give it back to him, and that it is morally wrong to keep it. I told him how I felt about the flowers and DVD player, and he just said he gets carried away sometimes.
I don't want to date him anymore, but because he and I have a lot in common I thought we could be friends. He has agreed to be friends, but I still have the DVD player! Part of me wants to keep it because I've wanted one for so long, but I could never afford it because I am unemployed.
I want to do the right thing and give it back, but then again, I want so much to be able to keep it. What do you think?
Ramona, people who give something "over the top," usually expect something in return. That something is usually a thing you would not have given freely in the beginning.
When you create a chink in what is acceptable, you open yourself to all kinds of consequences, and you create a propensity in yourself to act weakly. Accepting this gift makes you look bad. It makes it appear your standards depend on the price being right.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of writing an advice column is this. We get to see so many patterns of behavior repeated again and again. The behavior we see in your letter often ends in one of two places. Either you become vulnerable to men who think they can buy what they want from you, or you end up married to a man you didn't even want to date. Send it back.
In February 2002 my friend Helen asked to borrow money or the bank would take her house. The money Helen borrowed I was saving for new carpet in my house. When I asked for it back, she said she lent the money to her friend Sandi, who is having an affair on her husband. Helen promised to repay the loan once Sandi repays her.
Helen is also having an affair, and I even covered for her with her husband by saying she was with me. In August I charged the carpet on a no-interest, no-payment credit card. If I don't get the money back by February 2003, I owe the whole amount plus six months of finance charges.
If I take Helen to court, all of this including her cheating will come out in the wash. What can I do to save this friendship and get my money back?
Karen, we make our own future, but in a way so subtle most of us can't figure it out. Involving yourself with deceitful people in a web of deceit was bound to come back to haunt you. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Perhaps a lawyer could help. But if you can't get your money returned, consider it the most valuable lesson you have learned in a long, long time.