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Gf taking a gift (something she gave me) without my knowledge


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Just wanted some advice on this as I'm really not sure how reasonable/over-reactive I'm being about this: when is a gift not a gift?

 

Basically, my gf and I have a long distance relationship. She lives in Canada and I live in the UK. We spend 3 months together at a time together.

 

The last time she was in UK, the relationship deteriorated. It looked like it wasn't going to work out. The day before she left I asked if i could hang onto a book of hers I was reading at the time and mail it to her in Canada once I was finished. This admittedly was during a period of high pettiness that had ensued. She seemed hesitant but agreed. I said she could have it back as she didn't seem happy about it. I said "you keep it" but eventually she relented and let me hang onto it, after which I mailed it back. I also mailed back another book I thought she might like.

 

Key point: Unbeknownst to me however, on the last day she was at my flat, she took a rare book (a gift she had given to me) away with her. I only just found this out, 7 months after the event, because I was looking for the book yesterday and couldn't find it. I asked her if I had the book in my collection as I could have sworn she gave me a copy. She initially ignored the question, but the second time she admitted that she took it and was sorry.

 

The issue is I feel very betrayed by this. I feel that A. taking a gift she gave me from me/not telling me is a huge breach of trust B. I feel the fact she tried to bury the issue, not telling me or owning up to me is really bad as well. Unfortunately, she's not someone who handles criticism well. She thinks I'm attacking her by not immediately accepting her apology and wanting to understand why she did this and how I can trust her in the future.

 

So, am I overreacting? One of my female friends thinks it's not a big deal and I should get over it. For me it is big deal though, and says a lot about a person's character. :upset::eek::tongue:

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I think she took her gift back because she wasn't sure if she'd get her book back. And she figured the relationship -long distance -was ending. Is it perfect behavior? No but since it was what she gave you and you kept stuff of hers -I can see her perspective.

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This admittedly was during a period of high pettiness that had ensued.

 

Best I can see things, the taking of the book was just a symptom of that period. Cute? No. A hill worth dying on? Well, that's your call, but it seems like an awfully small one. If things are back on track now—and, well, are they?—I'd try to see all this as the sort of human hiccup that happens during petty times.

 

If you're looking for a reason right now to end things—well, you can really pick any scab when that's the headspace. But at a certain point the picking takes a toll, so if you're feeling optimistic about things, and wanting to stay invested, I'd find a way to shake this off. And if for whatever reason that's not possible? I'd avoid going down the wormhole of making this about trusting her "in the future" and more about a present that has lost its momentum and authenticity.

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Best I can see things, the taking of the book was just a symptom of that period. Cute? No. A hill worth dying on? Well, that's your call, but it seems like an awfully small one. If things are back on track now—and, well, are they?—I'd try to see all this as the sort of human hiccup that happens during petty times.

 

If you're looking for a reason right now to end things—well, you can really pick any scab when that's the headspace. But at a certain point the picking takes a toll, so if you're feeling optimistic about things, and wanting to stay invested, I'd find a way to shake this off. And if for whatever reason that's not possible? I'd avoid going down the wormhole of making this about trusting her "in the future" and more about a present that has lost its momentum and authenticity.

 

I felt the same way about the situation.

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Your girlfriend was 100% in the wrong for stealing your book. Yes, it was stealing. Once the book was given to you as a gift, it became your property. It doesn't matter that she was the one who purchased it, once she made the decision that it was to be gifted to you, she essentially transferred ownership of the book to you.

 

Hopefully, in addition to her apology, she is doing all that she can do on her end to make sure you get your property back. Yes, I agree with you that you may want to reflect on all of this and how it speaks to her character.

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Best I can see things, the taking of the book was just a symptom of that period. Cute? No. A hill worth dying on? Well, that's your call, but it seems like an awfully small one. If things are back on track now—and, well, are they?—I'd try to see all this as the sort of human hiccup that happens during petty times.

 

If you're looking for a reason right now to end things—well, you can really pick any scab when that's the headspace. But at a certain point the picking takes a toll, so if you're feeling optimistic about things, and wanting to stay invested, I'd find a way to shake this off. And if for whatever reason that's not possible? I'd avoid going down the wormhole of making this about trusting her "in the future" and more about a present that has lost its momentum and authenticity.

 

Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I think I'd be fine with it if she could give me reassurance. I think the surrounding issue is that she's hypersensitive to criticism, and me trying to see reassurance - i.e. talking about a trust-issue for more than 5 minutes ends in her saying "I can't deal with this. I'm too easily triggered by this issue. I need to protect herself." She believes she has PTSD (she's definitely hypersensitive) but hasn't been diagnosed. In practice, this makes tough situations almost impossible to work through.

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Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I think I'd be fine with it if she could give me reassurance. I think the surrounding issue is that she's hypersensitive to criticism, and me trying to see reassurance - i.e. talking about a trust-issue for more than 5 minutes ends in her saying "I can't deal with this. I'm too easily triggered by this issue. I need to protect herself." She believes she has PTSD (she's definitely hypersensitive) but hasn't been diagnosed. In practice, this makes tough situations almost impossible to work through.

 

Well, this is kind of a different can of worms, with the book serving as what I suspect is one of many can openers over the course of the relationship. Hard to say how to approach all that, just being honest. Have you expressed to her that, much as you want to be sensitive to her sensitivities, you need to be in a relationship where your feelings, when hurt, can be acknowledged?

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Yes, it's petty in the larger scheme of things but it's even more silly to take someone's belongings without mentioning it to them first.

 

Since this has happened already you can choose to get your book and the trust in your relationship back or continue to be upset over it but the air isn't cleared and you don't end up communicating that you still want your book. My take is, yes, she was rude and childish for not telling you or being more upfront about it. Yes, this is a red flag and no, you shouldn't ignore it. Maybe it's a better idea to be ordering and buying your own books and not borrow each others' things so often. It doesn't sound like you know each other very well.

 

I'm also not sure why you're both so elbow deep in the book exchange when the relationship was tense to begin with. This seems like a very strange way to have a hold on each other. You shouldn't have borrowed her book either, imo.

 

My suggestion:

 

Slow down on any accusations for the time being. Don't blow up about the book or have a fight ensue over it. You can politely ask for the book back as you're interested in reading or referring to it. See what she says.

 

Also slow down on the back and forth book exchanges and work on getting the relationship back on track, build more trust. Communicate better.

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Yes, it's petty in the larger scheme of things but it's even more silly to take someone's belongings without mentioning it to them first.

 

Since this has happened already you can choose to get your book and the trust in your relationship back or continue to be upset over it but the air isn't cleared and you don't end up communicating that you still want your book. My take is, yes, she was rude and childish for not telling you or being more upfront about it. Yes, this is a red flag and no, you shouldn't ignore it. Maybe it's a better idea to be ordering and buying your own books and not borrow each others' things so often. It doesn't sound like you know each other very well.

 

I'm also not sure why you're both so elbow deep in the book exchange when the relationship was tense to begin with. This seems like a very strange way to have a hold on each other. You shouldn't have borrowed her book either, imo.

 

My suggestion:

 

Slow down on any accusations for the time being. Don't blow up about the book or have a fight ensue over it. You can politely ask for the book back as you're interested in reading or referring to it. See what she says.

 

 

 

Good reply, thanks. Basically, the issue is not the book per se. It's just a trust issue really. I don't want to be in a situation where, years down the line, stuff of mine goes missing because it's 'technically hers'. As I said over the phone, this is how people end up in small claims court post divorce. If she wants anything of mine she's given to me, I'm happy to give it back. It's just an honesty/trust thing.

 

However, the wider issue is that she is cannot handle criticism of any kind. She admitted to me on the phone that her PTSD means she feels she's being attacked whenever we have an argument (for the record, I don't swear and don't believe in name-calling. I don't raise my voice). She believes this is due to her poor parenting. We've both basically agreed to call it a day over this. I'd just be interested, for some perspective, how anyone has dealt with a partner like this.

 

For me, it just isn't feasible to be in a situation where I can never take issue with a partner. As long as it's done amicably, as I see it, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm just wondering if anyone has managed to deal with a situation like this. As I say, I can't really conceive of it myself. I would feel like I was around a sick person all the time - unable to answer back even if they're being unreasonable. So yes, just curious for any input on that one. :)

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For me, it just isn't feasible to be in a situation where I can never take issue with a partner. As long as it's done amicably, as I see it, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm just wondering if anyone has managed to deal with a situation like this. As I say, I can't really conceive of it myself. I would feel like I was around a sick person all the time - unable to answer back even if they're being unreasonable. So yes, just curious for any input on that one. :)

 

It's in the delivery and it depends on the people involved and whether there's a deeper commitment or whether there are other issues outside of this something-sort-of-mental-health-issue you're raising.

 

In general what you're asking is a very broad question. I think discussing small claims court post divorce or bringing that up in relation to a book exchange is a little harsh and can come across as seriously PO'd which I understand you are but that might raise more red flags for me than dealing with someone with PTSD. She may have her issues but you seem to be very possessive about your material possessions also and I'm sensing there are elements to that. I'm not sure if you want to explain more or explore those intense emotions. Not everyone will feel the same about their things. There are always two sides, if you know what I mean. Do you feel like some of your things, especially books, are very near and dear to your heart? If so, it may be more about finding someone more on your wavelength who treats books, for example, in the same way. You mentioned it was a rare book so there's some indication that it's higher in value whether monetarily or in the scholarly sense than an ordinary paperback off of Amazon, let's say. Do you also mind me asking if there are cultural differences? I ask because attitudes towards things can sometimes be a cultural difference, more than individual differences or character flaws.

 

I'm not sure I caught that - did you say that you both agreed to end the relationship? Ie. "call it a day"

 

If you both have ended the relationship, I suppose there's nothing more to say to each other. Did you ask for your book back or is this a write off?

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she cannot handle criticism of any kind My first husband was defensive about things that other people would never take offense to, and I believe it was because he suffered from depression. When he got on antidepressants and went to a psychiatrist for several years, his behavior improved exponentially, but then he decided to stop all that and got even worse, which ended in me asking for a divorce.

 

I'm assuming she's not seeking help for her issues, and even if she did, there's no guarantee she'd stick to therapy. Loving someone isn't enough to retain a happy relationship if you're regularly upset about a partner's behavior. When the bad outweighs the good, it's best to bail so you can eventually find someone who knows how to communicate properly in a partnership.

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It's in the delivery and it depends on the people involved and whether there's a deeper commitment or whether there are other issues outside of this something-sort-of-mental-health-issue you're raising.

 

In general what you're asking is a very broad question. I think discussing small claims court post divorce or bringing that up in relation to a book exchange is a little harsh and can come across as seriously PO'd which I understand you are but that might raise more red flags for me than dealing with someone with PTSD. She may have her issues but you seem to be very possessive about your material possessions also and I'm sensing there are elements to that. I'm not sure if you want to explain more or explore those intense emotions. Not everyone will feel the same about their things. There are always two sides, if you know what I mean. Do you feel like some of your things, especially books, are very near and dear to your heart? If so, it may be more about finding someone more on your wavelength who treats books, for example, in the same way. You mentioned it was a rare book so there's some indication that it's higher in value whether monetarily or in the scholarly sense than an ordinary paperback off of Amazon, let's say. Do you also mind me asking if there are cultural differences? I ask because attitudes towards things can sometimes be a cultural difference, more than individual differences or character flaws.

 

I'm not sure I caught that - did you say that you both agreed to end the relationship? Ie. "call it a day"

 

If you both have ended the relationship, I suppose there's nothing more to say to each other. Did you ask for your book back or is this a write off?

 

It's not the books themselves. I told her she can keep them or give them to me next time she sees me - either way works. It's the fact she took them sneakily and didn't own up to it/hoped I'd wouldn't notice. That's the part that doesn't sit right with me. Things are things. They can always be replaced.

 

There's also the wider issue, as I said, that she got really really distressed when I kept talking about it. I think for her, for a lot of things, saying "I'm sorry" is a closing argument. She doesn't see that sometimes people might need clarification beyond that, or reassurances in the future. When I put this to her later she was actually fine about it. Just whenever she gets criticised it seems to trigger back memories of her father and she thinks she's being hurt.

 

Not sure if we can resolve at this point. Probably going to be friends, by the looks of it.

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she cannot handle criticism of any kind My first husband was defensive about things that other people would never take offense to, and I believe it was because he suffered from depression. When he got on antidepressants and went to a psychiatrist for several years, his behavior improved exponentially, but then he decided to stop all that and got even worse, which ended in me asking for a divorce.

 

I'm assuming she's not seeking help for her issues, and even if she did, there's no guarantee she'd stick to therapy. Loving someone isn't enough to retain a happy relationship if you're regularly upset about a partner's behavior. When the bad outweighs the good, it's best to bail so you can eventually find someone who knows how to communicate properly in a partnership.

 

Yeah, we've spoken about "how do I criticize you without triggering you" and, as I've said, it's hard to see how this could be realistically achieved. There has to be some latitude to at least accommodate some. Will be almost impossible in practice never to say "could you not put that there" "do you think you could do that this way" at least once. So yeah, probably not going to work.

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Sounds like you are both over-reactive about certain things. Given the long distance, imo this relationship dynamic cannot survive. Given that it was a book that SHE had gifted to you, carrying on about it at such length sounds petty imo. Yes, she should have told you. However, if she is as avoidant and if you are as fussy as this post sounds, it's no wonder that she didn't. Imo, the most you can infer from this incident is that if you two broke up, she would attempt to get back the things that SHE gifted you/brought into your relationship one way or the other and that she hates confrontation enough to do it behind your back. The bottom line is that your relationship dynamic sounds wrong for BOTH of you. You can't stand her avoidance and she can't stand your nitpicking. If this incident "says a lot about a person's character" (imo this sounds over critical), then you are with the wrong person and so is she. It's that simple. Her avoidance coupled with your nitpicking make a miserable and energy draining combination for both of you.

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It appears that the book and your respective reactions to this incident are just manifestations of the bigger problems in your relationship.

 

It's better that it's over now. You two don't sound compatible on a number of levels - conflict resolution being a big one. You're both irritated and resentful of each other and it sounds like perhaps, on some level, each of you wanted out of this relationship. The book was the exit hatch.

 

Furthermore, if she truly suffers from PTSD, she needs professional help.

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