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Old 12-21-2011, 11:36 PM
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Terra Terra is offline
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Default Am I being unfair about gifts?

My husband and I have been polyamorous for almost a year. For the most part, things run fairly smoothly. He has one stable partner, who, unfortunately, lives far enough away that they are only able to see each other every couple of months, but keep up via phone, texts, internet, etc. My situation has been a bit more haphazard, and perhaps less successful. I have had one on and off partner- a bit stormy- and have had more casual friendships/relationships with a few others. In general, we accommodate each other well and are respectful of each others' needs.

My problem is that his partner is a lavish gift giver. Once, when he had a sinus infection, she sent a bouquet of flowers and a teddy bear. My mother, who completely disapproves of our polyamory, was the one who encountered the UPS guy. I had no idea the gift was coming, and had to do some fast explaining. And for Christmas, she sent him a Kindle Fire, and sent me and our daughter some fairly signficant gifts as well. For some reason, I am uncomfortable with this. We don't have a lot of spare money right now, and I feel obligated to send return gifts. My main "other" and I decided purposely to not exchange gifts because we didn't want to divert our funds away from our children, and I guess we both have issues with wanting to keep some of our emotions at bay. And I have a feeling that underneath my discomfort, I may be experiencing a little bit of jealousy. The fact that she lives at some distance has allowed me to pretend she doesn't really exist. Having frequent visits from the UPS man forces me to confront her presence. And presents.

I don't know if I have a legitimate beef, in terms of wanting to make lavish gifts somewhat off-limits, or if I haven't fully embraced polyamory and am just feeling threatened. Has anyone else encountered discomfort with gift exchanging? Am I being unreasonable? Should I feel compelled to send equally lavish gifts back? To add to the confusion, she has handmade me several pieces of beautiful jewelry (we've never met), and friended me on FB. After days of her "liking" and commenting on every post I made, I realized that she was far too present in my day-to-day life, and that I was just fine with her as long as I didn't have to be her BFF. My husband saw that I was tormented about it, and suggested that she defrriend me. This caused major drama between the two of them, and I actually had to be the one to contact her, apologize, and patch things up.

Sorry this is so long! I think I am struggling to figure out where my role is in their relationship. She clearly would like to be close friends with me, and I guess I do better when I pretend she doesn't exist. I don't want to be unfair to her, and I know my emotional distance has hurt her feelings. I guess I need to suck it up and deal with these conflicted emotions.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:26 AM
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Speaking from experience, it's hard accepting gifts when times are tight and there's no way we/I can reciprocate.

For me, I've learned that the best gift I can give in return is to be gracious and accept them. The pleasure is in the giving. Gratitude is often all the giver really wants.

If you still feed the need to assuage the "obligation" you feel to pay it back, pay it forward, in whatever means you can. Give to someone less fortunate than you.

What is your position in all this gift giving relationship between your husband and his other? I would consider stepping over bounds to "veto" gifts to your husband. But really, this is an issue between you and your husband that needs to be discussed and an agreement that both of you can live with needs to happen. Otherwise its only going to continue to cause problems.

As for gifts to you and your daughter, I believe you have every right to not accept the gifts. Your really have no relationship with her other than you "know" the same person. You have no obligation to become her friend. There's no rule in the Poly handbook that says you have to.

IMHO, she's trying too hard to make a friendship with you happen, and that's a little worrisome. Her intentions may be good, but she really needs to slow down.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:17 AM
dragonflysky dragonflysky is offline
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Poly or not....I would find this person's behaviors overwhelming and intrusive to my boundaries. It has the feeling of trying to "buy" friendship instead of "earning" it by getting to know each other over time (IF that's desired by BOTH of you.) There's nothing wrong with trying to be friendly or reaching out towards someone your partner's interested in/involved with, but personally I would feel intruded upon if ANYONE came onto me this strong in trying to be my friend.

Under the circumstances you describe, I would find it hard to sort out if my negative feelings about the other person were related to jealousy around the poly aspect of the relationship, or the personality of the other person coming on too strong...too soon.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:40 AM
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My husband's gf bought him expensive gifts right from the start. I was freaked out. She went over the top. He lapped it up. I thought it was highly inappropriate, when they hardly knew each other, and she is a single mom with 4 kids -- he shouldn't have accepted! I was especially fried when she bought a book for my kids. OVERSTEPPING.

My bf and I never bought each other anything. Family resources stayed in one another's respective families. Period. (Actually this was quite freeing!)

Now it's Christmas and (I just blogged about this earlier today) he SWEARS he is not buying a thing for her and her 4 kids. Hello? Give me a break. If he does buy them gifts, he will lie to me about it. If he doesn't buy them gifts, he is an asshole, for not, since she's been so abundantly generous towards him!

I did read "The Five Languages of Love," and one of the languages is gift-giving. It was an interesting read. I think my husband has found a woman who speaks his language. That makes me sad, but I realize maybe my bf and I speak the same language, and there were reasons all along for why I fell in love with someone else. That's not to say you can't learn to speak another "love language," tho.

In any case, I think gift-giving, the boundaries placed on it and the level of respect for those boundaries, is VERY important in a polyamorous relationship. Please, don't "suck it up" -- you have every right to be concerned. Reason this one out, before it leads to some serious resentment.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:20 AM
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If they have been seeing each other for about the entire year or a good chunk of it, and these "gifts" have been spread out over the year, I don't think it's some big odd issue she is giving gifts to your partner, and you/your daughter.

If you don't feel your family can afford gifts right now, I would just ask my husband to explain to his girlfriend that family finances need to come first, and while he does not mind getting presents, it isn't financially practical to purchase things for other partners (and if he hasn't been giving her things this whole time, they probably already have that understanding).

My ex-husband's girlfriend who I have met a few times now, has gifted me with a couple of pieces of jewelry (though she is a jewelry maker) I feel a bit awkward about it, and I can't afford to get her gifts, so if I'm ever in a position to give her a ride to the airport or babysit her son someday, I will pay back her kindness that way. I know she has done what she has because she thinks I'm nice, wants me to like her, and she wants me to know she appreciates how important I am to him and wants to recognize that by treating me like family.

So if these gifts are making you uncomfortable, you could ask her, or ask your husband to ask her - to refrain from giving you gifts because you have guilt issues/discomfort/whatever about getting presents when you aren't giving them in return. I don't think it sounds like there would be any benefit to asking her not to give your husband gifts though. I think if you are uncomfortable with your daughter receiving presents, you should talk to your husband about that and make an agreement together. It can be embarrassing talking about financial limits with partners, but if it is what it will take to make you comfortable, it's smart to do so.

Unless there is some reason to think she has said or done anything with gift giving to try to "win" your husband over, I don't know that there's anything wrong with anything she is doing. If she ignores requests to stop sending presents to you (and/or your daughter), then and only then is when I'd consider it a problem. She can't know she is making you uncomfortable if nobody tells her. She probably just thinks fondly of you because your husband talks about how awesome you are, and for all you know she gives you gifts because she thinks it'd be rude to give them to him but not to the other members of his family.

My husband loves buying gifts too. A part of every vacation from the first one on involves some shopping for presents for past and current girlfriends of his. He keeps buying me things even when I beg him not to, because he gets joy out of it even though getting gifts makes me uncomfortable. (2nd the Love Languages book's discussion about it.) His main motivation is to let people he cares about know that he's thinking of them, and to make them smile.

On a last note, she does exist, and if you can find some ways to figure out some positive but reasonable ways to incorporate that idea into your life (yes, a hundred Facebook likes would make me want to ditch a FB friend too), that would probably be beneficial too for you. Not saying you should force a friendship if you're not interested of course. But just remember there's a few good poly books that discuss dealing with feelings like this in detail that could be helpful.
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:21 AM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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I have know people who love to give gifts and they get a great deal of pleasure buying gifts they know that person or persons would not be able to afford on their own. Why not have a chat with her and just tell her that the expensive gifts makes you uncomfortable, because you could never hope to return the favor in kind? Maybe the three of you can set a dollar limit on gifts she gets your kids that would not make you feel like she is trying to buy their good opinion. I think a Kindle Fire is not all that over the top as a gift for a bf, so long as she understands that your husband can't afford to spend that kind of money in return.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:04 PM
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I am one of those people who likes giving gifts to people and bringing them a little joy. As a child we were pretty hard off financially, so my brother's and I would wrap up our own toys and give them to each other, our grandparents, and parents. It was soo exciting to me the first year I could buy my boyfriend a present back in high school. It felt more special some how. Runic Wolf and I love exchanging gifts and I love the pure child like joy in his face when I let him buy a new Transformer.

While we can't afford big gifts, I love shopping for Pretty Lady and Wendigo, because I know that historically, they haven't gotten many gifts because of finances. I don't expect any thing in return. Last year, Pretty Lady regifted me her starbucks gift cards because she doesn't live near a starbucks and knew I would be able to use them. I gave her a coffee mug that I made for her. We also threw Wendigo his first birthday in 20+ years 2 years ago.

I do these things because it makes me happy knowing I make them happy. If it makes you uncomfortable, than be honest with her. Explain that you feel obligated to reciprocate and can't, which makes you uncomfortable. As for your husband, it would be unfair of you to ask that he not accept gifts from his girlfriend, though I don't think that it would be too much to suggest that he set a dollar limit, so that he could reciprocate in kind w/o you freaking out.

I wonder if perhaps your thoughts of jealousy are not that he has a girlfriend, per se, but that she is well off enough to give the sort of gifts that you would want to give yourself. My husband is not jealous of my boyfriend and my relationship, but rather that my boyfriend has a natural talent that he wishes he had and a certain charisma that my boyfriend isn't even aware of.

Last edited by BrigidsDaughter; 12-22-2011 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra View Post
Sorry this is so long! I think I am struggling to figure out where my role is in their relationship. She clearly would like to be close friends with me, and I guess I do better when I pretend she doesn't exist.
I don't think her gift giving is really the issue, but this. I mean, if you had some kind of relationship, you might not feel so uncomfortable about the gifts since you knew her intentions, or if you did you could let her know yourself. You don't need to be the best of friends with her, but it worries me that you seem opposed to getting to know her. And in her shoes I would have been hurt by the facebook-defriending-request as well, because it shows her that you want to pretend she doesn't exist. Can you put yourself to her shoes? How would you feel if you fell in love with somebody who was married, and his/her spouse allowed you to date but otherwise wanted to pretend that you don't exist?

Maybe reading about metamour relationships here on the forum would help you figure out what kind of roles you want/need to have in each other's lives. Here's one thread Metamour Love. Don't be scared of the title, love is no requirement. However, it is commonly held that there needs to be mutual respect for each other and your places in your shared lover's life, as well as open communication.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:36 PM
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For myself, I'll address the Facebook thing first. Personally, I'm not into it very much and am very selective about whom I "friend" on there. Generally it is family and career contacts. Most of the time, really, I can't be fucking bothered with it, so if anyone wants to be in touch with me they had better find a better way. Sometimes I'll meet someone who asks me to connect with him or her on FB and I just tell them no. I think it's a pretty weird thing for someone I barely know to do, if you ask me. So, if they want to know why not, I just say, "it's easier to contact me via email or phone. I reserve FB for relatives and colleagues." Even though my situation is different, my point is you don't have to say yes and connect with her there, and you don't owe her an explanation. If she gets bent out of shape over something like that, that's just weird and I really don't know why you had to patch it up after she freaked out. Oy veh.

You could set your privacy settings so that she can't see your posts anymore, so she wouldn't have anything to "Like." I have one uncle who insisted on connecting with me there, and he kept doing the same thing to me, "Liking" everything I wrote. Drove me nuts, so now he can't see any of my wall posts or any of my other Friends.

As for presents, you can tell your husband that she should keep the gift-giving between her and him, and that it's just not the kind of relationship you are comfortable having with her. You appreciate it and thank you very much, but that's just not how you express yourself with acquaintances. Polite and respectful doesn't have to mean chummy and cloying. Oh, and have your hubs tell her that if she is sending something via UPS or whatever, to have them send a notification email to give you both a heads-up, or send it to him at work, so you're not put in an awkward situation trying to explain the delivery again.
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:30 PM
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Default From the POV of the present buyer...

Admittedly, I didn't spend much on them because I don't have much in terms of money this Christmas, but I got gifts for my metamour and her and my bf's kids this holidays. I wasn't trying to buy attention or affection and they didn't get me a thing, and that doesn't bother me at all. I got them presents because despite having limited in-person contact with them, they are a part of my life and I always get little things for the people in my life, if I see things I think they will like. I didn't get a thank you though, which bothers me, but that's not important to this thread.

Please consider that she may have bought gifts simply because, with no expectation of return. A thank you may be all she would want. If they make you feel super awkward, ask your hubby to tell her you're less into gift giving and as a family they are unable to spend similarly in return, and I bet she doesn't care one bit. It sounds like she is trying to make you comfortable with her being in her husband's life by showing you some kindness - please give her the benefit of the doubt unless you are convinced there are problematic motives.
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