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Thread: I was 'ungrateful' for a gift and boyfriend is angry

  1. #1

    I was 'ungrateful' for a gift and boyfriend is angry

    My boyfriend of 5 years told me he had an amazing idea for a birthday present but that it was 'risky'. He messaged my best friend and she told him it seemed like a good idea, so he did it.
    Come my birthday, he handed me an envelope that contained a voucher for a tattoo shop.

    Now, for context, he recently got some new tattoos and I've been saying I'm jealous, and that I would like more too and have floated some ideas around. With that said, I haven't settled on any ideas, they've all just been purely brain storming (and I thought he was aware I had not settled on any, and the voucher only lasts 1 year). I have one tattoo that I got on a whim and I regret it so much so am scared to make the same mistake, however he is very spontaneous and I think he would like me to be more spontaneous too. Overall I know the gift came from a good place.

    However, I was so shocked to get the voucher as a gift that I panicked a little and blurted out "but I don't have any actual ideas for a tattoo" - I got really anxious about it for some reason, and I also don't love the idea of having a tattoo that he partially funded in the event we ever split up... My mum was there and kept trying to give advice and ideas, which I would turn down as my mum has a very different style to me. In all of that I forgot to actually thank my boyfriend for the gift, and over the next 2 or so hours my mum kept bringing it up, dragging out the awkward conversation. I think my boyfriend was hurt - he got really angry and he told me he would never forgive or forget my ungrateful attitude, and that he will never give a gift again (though that's okay if he feels that way, I'm not dating him for gifts). I feel absolutely terrible as I should have been more thankful and thought about the logistics after the fact in my own time, and just let him see me be excited for his gift he put a lot of thought into.

    He almost broke up with me over this, and left the house for a couple of hours. In this time I tried my best to explain that I am really grateful, appreciate the gift and his generosity, however he has told me my words mean nothing and there is no way I can convince him otherwise. I'm being truthful when I say that I am grateful, and I'm sure I will use it to get a tattoo that I love, but now I feel it will be tainted with negativity (which is my own fault, I know). My initial reaction was just pure shock, a result of the current environment and my anxieties around such a commitment. I do understand I should have shielded him from those feelings at least until I could articulate it better and not offend him or come off as ungrateful.

    I am looking for advice on how to fix this and show him that I am actually grateful for his gift. He keeps making remarks about how I am ungrateful and a bad partner and I'm worried my relationship will not survive this. Again, I know I am in the wrong 100% and common gift etiquette is to act as if you love it no matter what (even though I do love the idea/gift, I'm just also a very anxious, detail-oriented person). I just had a severe lapse in judgement this day for some reason, usually I'm grateful for anything he does for me and show it, so this isn't a frequent issue.

  2. #2
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    Originally Posted by needAdvic
    He almost broke up with me over this, and left the house for a couple of hours. In this time I tried my best to explain that I am really grateful, appreciate the gift and his generosity, however he has told me my words mean nothing and there is no way I can convince him otherwise. I'm being truthful when I say that I am grateful, and I'm sure I will use it to get a tattoo that I love, but now I feel it will be tainted with negativity (which is my own fault, I know). My initial reaction was just pure shock, a result of the current environment and my anxieties around such a commitment. I do understand I should have shielded him from those feelings at least until I could articulate it better and not offend him or come off as ungrateful. .
    My guess is that he sees your reluctance as something that goes beyond getting a tattoo.

    I have a couple tattoos myself, and you're right, it's best to be sure. His gift was indeed a risk and not the best-planned one. However, I think that deep-down, this isn't actually about this specific gift. Almost breaking up with you over this is an over-reaction but I sense there are deeper problems between you two that this merely brought to the surface, and it boiled over.

    So, how was your relationship before this? Have you seen this side of him before? Do you feel he's reacting to something more than just your lack of enthusiasm for this gift?

  3. #3
    He is a generally an angrier than usual person (as in, most of his emotions come out as anger) and I think the threat to break up was just an angry over-reaction and probably not meant (it's not a common thing to happen though). My guess is that he genuinely thought I'd be over the moon with the gift and when I wasn't that disappointment came out as anger. He is acting mostly normal except for making digs about me being 'ungrateful', then when I try to explain it further he just says he doesn't intend to forgive me (which is why I'm worried as I don't believe the relationship will be sustainable if he refuses to forgive any mistakes I make).

    In terms of seeing that side to him, he is generally someone who holds a grudge about some stuff, but this issue is a bit more trivial than usual (though as mentioned I have always acted grateful for things he does for me, so I guess we've never been in a similar spot).

    The issue right now is that i think he feels my apologies / clarifications aren't true and that I am genuinely ungrateful, but I genuinely mean what I am saying, just not sure what ways I can prove that to him.

  4. #4
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    For some reason, he wants to hold this against you.

    I would be concerned about what exactly is underlying this, OP. I don't think it's just about the tattoo. You can only apologize so much. He has to meet you halfway, and if he's unwilling and wants to keep using this as ammo against you, you two have bigger problems than this one incident.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Does he usually stage angry tantrums to ruin birthdays and holidays?

    Now he has you feeling guilty for him staging a selfish drama on your birthday?

    You need to reconsider being with someone this impulse and angry.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    There are constructive arguments and then there is just plain verbal abuse. Calling you a bad partner is attacking your character, not solving any problem. You each had your say-so about your point of views. Once that happens, a healthy couple has either come to a consensus or realizes a mistake has happened, one or both have acted crappy, and lessons have been learned. At that point, it should be left in the past. Because dredging up the same issue over and over is unhealthy. It's also unhealthy to threaten breaking up over something that wouldn't be a dealbreaker to most.

    It sounds like you're young and might not have enough dating experiences to know this isn't a healthy relationship. You say he has anger management problems. I don't know what your future plans with him are, but whether or not the intent is marriage or longterm, he would have to attend anger management counseling and you two would have to attend couples counseling to learn the proper way to communicate. At the very least, you two would have to read books together on couples communication, like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and apply those skills. If he refuses any of this self-help, it's time for you to do what's best for yourself and leave a toxic relationship.

    Otherwise, you're settling for a lifetime of emotional abuse.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    How old are both of you? And does he have any tattoos himself? Please don't ever feel pressured to get a tattoo or do anything to your body that you feel unsure about. All those concerns you mentioned are completely valid. How on earth could a grown man's sensibilities be so offended in the objection or hesitancy to permanently ink your body. It's not even his body. Please tread very carefully. Take a step back and don't ever put up with behaviour like that. Stop telling yourself that you're ungrateful and never let someone bully you into believing that you're defective just because you have the guts to speak up or feel differently.

    I think the issue you should be more worried about is wasting more years with a person like this than whether you're ungrateful (to him). I'm surprised your mother isn't sensing all of this and helping you realize what a dangerous and outrageous situation this is. Why would anyone want to go under the needle at this point also or frequent yet another venue that can be avoided, as you're alluding to, during an ongoing pandemic. It's frankly not just an uncomfortable idea but a very daft one.

    You prove nothing going forwards with your boyfriend. If you don't want the voucher, take it back or tell him to re-gift it to someone else. As someone with tattoos also, I find it quite insulting and belittling the way he's treating you. These should be your red flags. I don't necessarily think it's his anger issues (although that's a big part) but his need to feel accepted unanimously for all his ideas without so much as a squeak from you that I find controlling and abusive.
    Last edited by Rose Mosse; 09-23-2020 at 09:30 AM.

  9. #8
    Thanks for the insight so far, a few clarifications based on questions being asked:
    We are both 26 and we live together (have been for 1.5 years out of our 5 years together).
    We were with my parents for breakfast for my birthday, my partner did not show any signs of annoyance until after we were on our way home (we both find it rude to argue in front of our families). He also does not have a habit of 'ruining' special occasions, and even though he was still mad he did still do some nice things for me in the evening once things cooled down. (before evening he was asleep as he is a shift worker).

    I have been saying for a while that I want a tattoo(just haven't made any plans around it) , so I think he genuinely thought he was doing something nice and not trying to make me alter myself for his benefit. I was being really negative about the whole thing for the morning, especially with my mum continuously pressing it (she is very intense with opinions, and I tend to shut down around her a bit which I think contributed). I do agree he overreacted though, I just feel I was also rude and hurtful which lead to his upset. I don't think it's the subject matter of the gift he is upset about, more that he put a lot of thought into it and I was negative about it from the get-go.

    Also re: the pandemic, im in a state that has 0 cases and things are slowly returning to a controlled normal. Our border control has been pretty strict and tattoo/cosmetic shops have been open for a while, plus I have 1 year to use the voucher, so covid isn't really a major concern in this regard (he got his tattoo recently which is what sparked the conversation of me potentially wanting one down the line).

    I do appreciate the concern, and hope that this isn't an emotional abuse situation. I am also hoping to resolve this issue and move on but will keep all advice in mind.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    I'm actually a bit shocked at his behavior and wouldn't find it acceptable in your shoes. When you give a gift, it's not about you and certainly not about the person receiving the gift tripping over themselves and jumping up and down with gratitude like a dog begging for a treat. It's one thing to say "thank you" it's quite another for him to expect and to make this ALL about himself. It's your b-day and he actually went out of his way to ruin it for you. What a sefish arse.

    He knew it was a risky gift and instead of being gracious, he intentionally turned into drama and made it about his ego. Not exactly qualities you want in a man or any person. A gift is not an exchange of item for ego stroking, OP. If you want to give a gift, you give it freely and without strings and if you don't, then don't. Something for you to think about.

    Also really concerned about how easily you are dismissing his anger issues as if that's normal or acceptable behavior when it shouldn't be.

    Anyway, if you want to stick with a guy like that, you are going to have to learn some boundaries and strap on a spine. You apologized and he either accepts it and drops the subject or he can go ahead and hit the road. What he cannot do is use this to abuse you with.

    The more you keep apologizing and acting like you committed some crime against him (you didn't do anything in the grand scheme of things, you only got flustered and that happens and it's OK and no decent guy would ever hold that against you) the more he will continue to abuse you and beat you up over this. So stop. Stop apologizing, stop groveling because all you are doing is rewarding him for being an abusive a hole. This is where you need to get your head screwed on straight, realize that you didn't commit some great unforgivable offense and if he chooses to act like this, he can either get over himself or get out of your life. Stop rewarding him for being an ahole - this isn't about the gift or gratitude, it's him having a massive power trip over you and he is a pos for acting like that.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member LaHermes's Avatar
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    OP.

    At the heart of the matter:

    "He is a generally an angrier than usual person (as in, most of his emotions come out as anger)"

    So, you want to continue a relationship with an "angrier than usual" person. Why? I cannot imagine anything more stressful.

    Worse, still your whole posts are an exercise in self-flagellation. Blaming yourself.

    Advice: forget the tattoo, forget this "relationship", and one day you will meet someone who is steady and stable, and not governed by his anger.

    I can only endorse DF's post. Her conclusion is correct:

    "Stop rewarding him for being an ahole - this isn't about the gift or gratitude, it's him having a massive power trip over you and he is a pos for acting like that."

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