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Ask Amy: Naughty gift isn't neighborly

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • April 3, 2013 - 2:48 PM

Dear Amy: My wife and I are in our late 20s. We have a widower neighbor in his 60s who has been extremely generous to us since we moved in four years ago. For example, he gives us each Christmas and birthday gifts, and we have always reciprocated.

This year, however, he gave my wife a Valentine’s Day gift of a short, sheer nightgown that leaves nothing to the imagination. He said it was “a gift we would both appreciate.” However, I feel the gift crossed the line and wonder if he is expressing a romantic interest in her.

She sees nothing wrong with it and thinks I am being overly jealous. She doesn’t want to ruin our relationship with him, and won’t let me address my concern with him. Am I being unreasonable?

Amy says: I don’t think you are being unreasonable, but you might reframe your concern by dialing it more toward the “bewildered” part of the spectrum.

Moreover, I don’t think you need your wife’s permission to express a point of view about this gift. Your neighbor’s statement (that it is a gift you would both appreciate) leads me to think that — in his stated intent, anyway — this negligee was a gift to both of you.

I agree that this is in poor taste but think you should start by giving your neighbor the benefit of the doubt.

He may hand you an opening when he asks if you “enjoyed” this gift. You can say, “Stan, I’ve got to admit, I am confused by your gift. I don’t like the idea of men other than me giving my wife negligees; honestly, it makes me uncomfortable.”

You and your wife need to learn that age-old dictum about fences and neighbors. Relationships thrive when the boundaries are clear and respected.

Carry a Breathalyzer

Dear Amy: A woman wrote you about her dilemma of how to handle friends who drink too much when they are out for the evening.

I’d like to recommend a personal Breathalyzer. These can be very inexpensive. I got one and use it. If it shows I’m impaired, I don’t get behind the wheel.

Amy says: Many readers recommended these. I see there are many different types and I assume they are not 100 percent accurate, but I do like the idea of taking personal responsibility for your own sobriety.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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