I read something today that brought to mind an old memory about a former girlfriend from decades ago. This is truly water under the bridge long ago, but I'm nonetheless curious how the story strikes other people. It may have more to do with hurt feelings than with etiquette (that's why I'm putting it in the Coffee Break folder) -then again, I guess I'm sort of asking if I was rude or if maybe the former girlfriend was rude. Here's the story:
About six weeks before Christmas, many years ago (before Internet shopping) my then-girlfriend came right out and told me what she wanted for Christmas: a particular kind of then-popular jewelry that came in separate pieces that the wearer would put together to make the whole jewelry item. The reason I mention all of those pieces here is that that is what made this a time-consuming present to buy. I had to telephone around to stores throughout the big city we lived in to try to locate the several different pieces in the colors and sizes she wanted. (None of the stores had all of the pieces in one place because it was so popular at the time.)
After finding the parts at three different stores on three different sides of the city, I bought all the parts, wrapped them nicely, and was happy with myself for having a present I knew my girlfriend would really like.
Then, a couple of weeks before that Christmas, my girlfriend telephoned to let me know about a phone call she had just had with her "difficult" sister-in-law. GF's sister-in-law and GF's brother had suddenly decided to buy GF the same multi-part jewelry for Christmas that I had already bought for her.
GF's SIL telephoned GF to tell her what they had decided to buy her for Christmas, to be sure that she would like it and to be sure about the colors and sizes she wanted. (Note that they had not yet bought it when SIL called GF.)
GF told me that she told her SIL that that would be a wonderful present and that she would really like to receive it for Christmas from SIL and brother.
GF did not tell SIL that I had already bought it for her.
I was deeply hurt at the time. I couldn't understand why GF wouldn't tell her SIL the truth, that she had already asked me to buy her that present and that I had already bought it. GF explained that her SIL was difficult to get along with, and she thought SIL might get in a big snit about it if GF said no, don't buy that. GF told me that I, on the other hand, was easy to get along with and she just knew I wouldn't mind. She said she would put SIL's gift away in a drawer and only wear the one I bought her, and while SIL would think GF was wearing jewelry SIL bought, GF and I would know the truth that it was really something I had secretly bought for GF. (Part of this plan was that GF and I would not be able to tell anyone the present was from me, lest SIL hear about the lie.)
I ended up saying no, telling lies about a Christmas present was too complicated for me, that if my hurt feelings weren't important enough for her to tell SIL no, then I would just return the jewelry I had bought and I would select something different to be my Christmas present to her.
So, that's what I did. It did not directly lead to our later breakup, but, looking back, I think it did give me the strong impression that SIL's feelings were much more important to former GF than my feelings were... and that wasn't good.
So, here's the question: How does that strike people? Once GF had asked me for that present and I had bought it for her, was former GF being rude to me when she told her SIL to go ahead and buy her the same present I'd already bought? Was I being rude when I returned the present to the stores and bought GF a different present, although GF asked me not to?