His Ex-Girlfriend Wants Her Expensive Gifts Back

By Wendy Belzberg

Published February 21, 2003, issue of February 21, 2003.
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I just broke up with my girlfriend of two years. She is now asking me to return two high-priced gifts that she bought me, neither of which I had asked for. When she bought me a new computer seven months ago, our relationship was already on the rocks, and I was torn about accepting the gift. She assured me that she wanted me to have the computer regardless of what happened to the relationship. Am I obligated to return the gifts?

— Many unhappy returns

The good news is that there are no cats, dogs or children lying around. Consider this a dress rehearsal for divorce — and a fine learning experience. You might also beware in the future of girls bearing expensive gifts. I don’t believe for one minute that you are obligated to return the gifts to your ex-girlfriend, especially since you clearly discussed the idea that the gift might outlive the relationship. If you have any doubts about my call, consult a mediator. I’m sure you can find someone who will answer the question with a simple yes or no without your incurring any costs. Are we heading toward a world where even boyfriends and girlfriends should have prenuptial agreements?

* * *

The other night I traveled across town to visit my 11-day-old grandchild. When I asked my daughter-in-law if I could hold him, she said, “No, I want him to go to sleep.” I just wanted to cuddle my grandchild. Do I approach her or my son and express how hurt I was, or do I just keep my mouth shut and take what is handed me?

— Out of touches

If this is your daughter-in-law’s first child, it is understandable — if not forgivable — that she is not yet ready to relinquish her child to anyone, including her child’s grandmother. If your daughter-in-law is otherwise generous and the two of you are on good terms, allow her some time to adjust to motherhood before you rock the boat, rock your son or take her actions personally. Mark my words, it won’t be long before your children are looking for a babysitter.

* * *

My son and his best friend play together several times each week and at least once over the weekend. The play dates invariably take place at our home. I’ve tried almost everything to maneuver having the play date at his friend’s house — or even having the other mother pick up the children from school so I don’t have to interrupt my day. Nothing has worked. What should I do?

— Turnabout is fair play

Clearly you haven’t yet said to the mother of your son’s best friend: “Please pick up the children from school and take them to your house. I can’t do it today.” Try that and get back to me. If that fails, you may want to mention that your other child has chicken pox, lice and pinkeye. (Admittedly a short-term solution to a long-term problem.) If that doesn’t make her run to the school immediately to take the children to her home, then nothing you can do will prevail. Concede defeat and take comfort in knowing that your son has a best friend.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.

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