Though opposite-sex questions are often scrutinized, sometimes the best friendship a person can have is a purely platonic one.
But when significant others get involved, sometimes a friend’s place can start to get muddled, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
For her best male friend’s birthday, Redditor Pristine_Balance_365 wanted to get him a very expensive watch he had his eye on.
But when his girlfriend thought she was trying to outshine and push her out, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had taken the gift-giving too far.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for purchasing my guy friend his dream birthday present and ‘outshining’ his girlfriend in the process?”
The OP had been best friends with Tom since college.
“My guy friend, ‘Tom,’ has been one of my best friends since college. We’re in our mid 20’s now and are both currently in committed relationships with long-term partners.”
“I have never had feelings for Tom nor has he ever had feelings for me.”
“Since college, Tom has been a huge watch fanatic. Two months ago, he was showing me this stunning vintage watch and made an off-handed comment about how he would die of joy if he somehow got his hands on one.”
The OP used the opportunity to get her friend the perfect birthday present.
“Very coincidentally, I was in NYC a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this watch store that just so happened to have the exact one Tom wanted.”
“It was expensive, I won’t lie, at about $2,500, but I decided to get it for his 25th birthday (to me, it was basically fate).”
“My boyfriend and I do very well financially, so this was something that I could personally afford and wanted to buy for Tom, especially knowing how happy it’d make him.”
But the gift made a wave at Tom’s birthday party.
“Tom has a tradition of hosting a dinner party at his place for his birthday and then following that up with cake and gift opening.”
“I told him before the dinner that my gift was a huge surprise and asked if he could save it for last and he agreed.”
“His girlfriend ended up going first and she got him this gorgeous sweater that she crocheted for him and a book that he’s been wanting, which I thought was super thoughtful and lovely.”
“Last, it was my gift. When he opened it and saw what it was he literally screamed, hopped over a bunch of people, and squeezed me in this huge bear hug.”
“I was SO happy to see him happy, and it genuinely filled me with so much joy.”
“He even got emotional and I saw him swipe a few tears. He said that it was the ‘best gift he’d ever received.'”
“The whole time, his girlfriend was only slightly smiling and stayed quiet.”
Tom’s girlfriend then called the OP out on the gift.
“The next morning, I got a text from his girlfriend that essentially said that although she appreciated my thoughtful gift, she thought that it was a bit out of touch and lacking awareness.”
“She admitted that Tom had also told her about the watch and she wanted to get it for him, but it was way out of her budget. She accused me of knowing this (I had NO idea) and still getting it to rub it in her face and to ‘outshine’ her.”
“She finished by saying how she felt like I had overstepped a boundary by getting the gift and would appreciate me not doing anything similar to it again in the future.”
“I responded and told her that while I could see her point of view, I was just trying to do a nice thing for a close friend of mine.”
“I asked her, ‘Wouldn’t you rather he get the gift and see the happiness that it brought him than him not get it at all?'”
“She responded that that kind of happiness was ‘to only shared between [me] and Tom,’ and no one else, and that she felt hurt by my actions.”
The OP later felt conflicted.
“Only my boyfriend knows about this and he’s on my side.”
“But thinking through it all again, I do see how I could’ve overstepped, but my boyfriend says that it’s not my job to apologize for her insecurities.”
“So AITA here?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some called the OP out for the price of the gift and wanting to go last.
“Ummmm… you literally REQUESTED for this gift to be opened last a la grand finale. You’re NTA in a way, but this one portion of the story leads me to be of the opinion you wanted the glory and public praise, not just warm and fuzzies for seeing the joy in a friend.” – LezzieB
“Maybe YTA. You knew that no matter what anyone gave him that yours would be the best, that’s why you wanted to save it for last.”
“Did you really not know you’d be massively outdoing his girlfriend and making her feel insignificant in front of everyone? She’s supposed to be his number one, and you basically shoved her aside to steal the spotlight.”
“Do you regularly give gifts that expensive? If it’s your normal thing, maybe you’re NTA, but otherwise, yeah, I think you are. I’m guessing his reaction made her feel like she is inferior to you.”
“If she didn’t feel insecure in their relationship, she would have to after that. After all, she gave her time, talent, and love, and it didn’t come close to something you threw money at.” – Rootbeer-Riot
“First of all, people inherently are materialistic and put more value into big gestures like this. Also, OP knew he was someone who loves watches, so she knew how touched he would feel. She knew that the gift would outshine everyone else’s, and not everyone can afford a gift that expensive.”
“Accept the fact that you wanted to make this day about you. If you and other friends would have pitched in, it would have been reasonable without making everything about yourself. His girlfriend didn’t even get a heads-up in this situation and would have felt uncomfortable. Anyone reasonably would have.”
“Also, just reverse the situation and see if a man would have posted this thread, then people would have immediately downvoted him for giving such a valuable gift to a female friend. YTA.” – Onmedforever
“I would feel really uncomfortable if I got a gift worth $2500 from a platonic friend (or even from my husband) and I am financially well off. Couldn’t you have shared it with the group and given it together?”
“YTA for specifically asking him to open it last. NTA for wanting to see him happy, but you could have thought about how your other friends (not just his girlfriend) might feel.” – -FireLion
“I’d say you’re NTA for getting him the gift. But your reaction to her text was… surprising to me.”
“I would’ve started my reply to her with, ‘I’m so sorry, girlfriend. I never meant to outshine you and didn’t think my gift would make you feel that way. I’m really sorry about that. It just seemed like something I was meant to get when just after he had told me about it, I found it in a shop while on that business trip. It felt like kismet and I couldn’t pass it up.'”
“You saying, ‘Wouldn’t you rather he gotten the gift and see the happiness that it brought him than him not getting it at all,’ makes you a bit of an a**hole.” – PanicAtTheGaslight
Others agreed and pointed out ways that the OP could have handled the situation better.
“NTA for getting him the watch in the first place, but YTA for how you went about giving it to him. You knew it would be overshadowing everything else. You could have given it at a different time.”
“He’s TA as well for exclaiming it was the best gift ever; he could have told you that privately.”
“And there were ways to mitigate the situation: talk to the girlfriend about the watch beforehand and asking her (or even the group) to chip in if they had not bought their gift yet would have been possible.”
“It seems to me you were quite uncaring about the girlfriend’s feelings, possibly on purpose (I hope not), and she was hurt in the process. All of your answers are about how you wanted to make HIM happy, which is nice, but you still could have thought about the consequences for his girlfriend.”
“I think you owe her an apology.” – Unknown_magic_trick
“NTA, but I don’t blame the girlfriend for being sad. I’d be pretty embarrassed too if I were her.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have asked him to open it last. That was kinda asking for attention. I don’t know, it’s a hard situation where I don’t blame either party, it just hurts for the girlfriend and you didn’t mean to, but you shouldn’t apologize for it, it’s an unfortunate situation that they should deal with on their own, and you should move forward.”
“I think her boyfriend shouldn’t have said, ‘This is the best gift I’ve ever got,’ either, it would make his girlfriend and guests that also got him gifts feel super awkward and unappreciated. But you aren’t in control of that.” – Jinx_X_2003
“Look, I don’t really think you’re an AH, but I also think you did overstep. If someone bought my husband a gift he really wanted that I couldn’t afford, I’d also feel slighted and outshone.”
“In my opinion, your best bet here is a text like, ‘Girlfriend; I’m sorry I overstepped. It was not my intention to take anything away from your lovely and thoughtful gift. I understand your feelings and am very sorry I caused them.'”
“Then, in the future, if you want to get someone else’s significant other a gift that big, ask them if they want to go in on it with you. You admit it was expensive, a text to the girlfriend being like, ‘Hey, I think I can get Tom this watch. Would you want to go in on it with us?’ At least give her a heads-up and give her the chance to be a part of ‘the best gift he could ever get.'”
“If she says you’re not allowed to get it because she can’t afford to contribute, well, then you cross into fully NTA, and you tell Tom about it, as well. I would also say that generally a gift like that would be better given in private with a small, placeholder gift in public.” – hereforcatsandlaughs
“It’s not about cost, gifts, or Tom’s reaction. It’s about the energy and respect you put into the partners or friends you love and care about. OP’s NTA for a lovely and generous gift, nor simply being a good friend who doesn’t pinch pennies, which I love, but obviously, there is a bridge to the girlfriend which has been neglected. Considering her feelings was not and continues to not be a priority for OP.”
“OP, the price point is the elephant in the room. It’s not relevant to you, but it’s relevant to your good friend’s partner. Insisting it is irrelevant is tone deaf to what actually happened.” – kdollarsign2
The subReddit could appreciate the thoughtfulness of the OP’s gift, but they could also empathize with Tom’s girlfriend about how giving a gift this expensive could look. At least in the future, the OP should consider everyone’s feelings who might be involved before doing something like this or otherwise going with something far safer instead.