Ex-boyfriend taking back a gift; what should I do?

Dopers, I need your take on this situation.

My now ex-boyfriend and I both have December birthdays. So last December, for his birthday, I got him tickets to a hockey game (which was in January - a month away from the time I gave him the tickets). They were $300 for 2 tickets.

For my birthday, he got me tickets to a concert* that was in July - 7 months away. He got scalped tickets and paid $400 for the pair. (The face value was like $140 per ticket). Note, however, that at this time he did not actually physically give me the tickets. He had not printed them out yet, and never gave them to me.

  • This was a concert for one of my favorite artists that I really really wanted to go to, that I had always been planning on attending, all along.

So in January, we went to the hockey game. Then in late February, we broke up.

A little while goes by and I started wondering about the tickets. Was he going to give them to me? Should I just buy my own separately? I was NOT going to miss this concert.

So I asked him about the tickets and he said he was going to sell them. Which kind of struck me as douchey because they were a gift to me. Wasn’t that “Indian giving?” Well, I thought, I am going to have to buy a ticket anyway, and I kind of felt bad about breaking up with him, and wanted to retain the friendship, so I offered to buy from him one of the tickets and said I would try to sell the other for him.

So I gave him $200 and he gave me both tickets. About a month later, I mailed him a check for $100.

In the meantime, I went to the concert with someone. And today the ex-boyfriend asked me for the final $100. I thought about it and realized that my ex-boyfriend was giving me an unfair deal. He essentially retroactively took away a gift he gave to me. What about the gift I gave to him, the $300 hockey tickets? If he was going to take away the concert tickets he gave me, should the value of the hockey tickets I have him offset the value of his gift? Could I retroactively take away my gift to him and call it even?

I nicely brought this up to him and he got very aggressive and insisted that he was in the right to demand the full $400 for the tickets, even though I had given him the gift of $300 hockey tickets. I look at it in terms of basic math: $400 - $300 = $100, which I have already paid to him. Personally, I would not have asked for a gift back, but he did. I am not sure what his motivation was, I think a little bit of bitterness, combined with his need for the money.

What say you Dopers, do I owe him the last $100?

Sorry for the length and complexity of this post!

Bad timing. It sucks, but you don’t get the tickets as a gift.

If you press the point too much, it seems like you’re not really over him. You have to let it go.

Give him the $100? Hell if I know.

I think you should probably give it to him, but he’s completely in the wrong about the tickets. IMO, they were yours (or at least one was) and he was just holding onto them (it).

I would say you don’t owe him the $100. I would also say if you can afford it, give him the $100, stay on the high ground, and wash your hands of the man. Consider it your price for getting rid of him.

I would say that you owe him the $100 because you agreed to pay him $400 for the tickets. By withholding the money, you’re violating an explicit business arraignment the two of you made.

In any sort of relationship, whether it’s friendly or romantic, it’s good to seek balance. However, if one party insists that gifts be balanced exactly down to the last dollar, the relationship (friendly or romantic) probably isn’t going to work out.

Was he being slightly petty by wanting to resell the tickets? I can see why you would feel that way. But I can also see why a person would not want to give an expensive gift to someone who dumped them.

From a purely legal standpoint, he didn’t give a gift until it was actually in your possession. Comparatively, you did agree to pay a certain price for the tickets, then you didn’t pay that price. So I think you should pay him the rest of what you agreed to.

Look at it this way, did you give him his gift because you wanted to do something nice for him, or did you give him his gift because you expected a gift of equal or greater value in return?

If you don’t want to be friends with him anymore because you feel the relationship is imbalanced that’s a reasonable position. But from a legal (and in my opinion, ethical) standpoint you owe him the money.

So, which date counts as the date of the gift: the date he gives me the tickets or the date the event takes place?

Oh I am definitely over him. I broke up with him because I wasn’t feeling it for him. I have no feelings for him, although I would have liked to remain friends.

Agreed… one ticket was mine, and I paid him $300 for the other one. I’m hesitant about sending him the $100 because (1) the principle of it; (2) he’s being an ass about it; and (3) money is tight.

Yes it may be worth the $100 to stay on the high ground. Although $100 is kind of a lot for me, money is tight. And I’m already out $300 for the hockey tickets, and $300 that I paid him for the concert tickets.

You should give him the money. You promised to sell the tix, you didn’t, ergo you sold them to yourself. It’s unfortunate that you hadn’t gotten the tickets before you broke up, but you hadn’t. Plans about what you’ll do for each other when you’re dating, like the one he made to you, are expected to fizzle when you’re not dating. But you were already broken up when you made your promise to him. It’s no different than if he’d bought a book or a necklace to give you as a present and you broke up before he handed it over. He bought those tickets in order to give a present to his girl (yes?) friend. You weren’t his girlfriend anymore when you got the tickets, so you shouldn’t expect the transaction to run the way it would have if you were still together.

The hockey tickets are irrelevant – you didn’t get them to score points with your boyfriend, or you shouldn’t have. You got them to make him happy. You’re trying to force an economic lens on a set of transactions that weren’t about the economics. Give him the dough.


Indian Giving? Really? Maybe you can Jew him down on the $100 while you’re at it.

The tickets weren’t your gift, him taking you to the concert was. You dumped him before he could do so. You agreed to buy the tickets from him for a certain amount, so you owe him that amount.

Also, keeping score on the cost of gifts in a relationship is tacky. Don’t do this anymore.

No date counts as “the date of the gift.” This isn’t court.

I certainly wouldn’t nickel-and-dime my friends. You want there to be no negative repercussions, that’s all.

False. You exchanged gifts. Or, more accurately, **you gave him a gift, then you broke up with him before he gave you a gift. **If you’re committed to playing semantic games, that’s exactly what happened.

It doesn’t seem like it now, but the cost of your own ticket to the concert is a small price to pay to not have to interact with your ex any more. And you don’t want to interact with your ex any more. By “friends,” you mean “despite the fact that I broke up with him, I don’t want future interactions, be they group or individual, to be awkward.” And if you play semantic games with gifts, they will be.

Second, you gave the tickets as a gift. Gifts are not exchanged on a dollar-for-dollar basis. You gave him a gift and cannot ask him under any circumstance to retroactively underwrite it.

Move on. None of this will seem important soon.

Q: Do you still want to be friends with him?

A: Yes - then give him the $100

A: No - Tell him to fuck off.

Ok, then tell him you’ll pay him the money but ask him for a little time and pay him off as soon as you can. I personally think he’s being stingy but I can understand his POV too. Don’t get in any arguments with him, though.

No, she paid him $200 for one ticket, and she said that she would try and sell the other one for him…she did for $100.

Oh, legally he’s absolutely in the right. Gift promises are not enforceable. Depending on the exact statements you made when he handed them to you, you either purchased them for $400 to be paid in installments, or he consigned them to you for sale. Either way, the tickets were his the entire time up to that point, and you’ve breached your contract with him. You’re not going to get taken to court over a hundred bucks, but this is an absolutely cut and dried case if you want to look at it from a legal perspective.


Thank you for this well-thought-out opinion. I totally get what you are saying. If he wasn’t being such an ass about it I would probably just send him the $100. But he is being a dick about it. But I still may send him the money anyway.

No, I didn’t give him the gift because I wanted something equal in value in return. All I wanted in return is for him to treat me the same way, which he isn’t.

Write it all off as a lesson learned. Move on. Tell your ex-guy to fuck right the hell off.

He is not going to be any kind of friend in the future, best intentions aside, you own him nothing.

In straight fairness terms (as I see it), neither ticket sets were gifts to the person, but gifts to you both as a couple.

So the $300 gift of the hockey tickets were actually a gift of $300 from you to: (you + him).
And the $400 gift of the concert tickets were a gift of $400 intended from him to (you + him).

So far we have the fulfillment of the first part, you paid $300 towards both of you - and you both received $150 worth of value.

His $400, however was only ever intended to be $200 towards you. So that would be the value of the gift to you alone. He has given you the tickets, if you use only yours I would say it was fair of the original intention for him to gift you the single ticket, but if you take someone else he should not have to pay for that person, as that was not the intention of the gift.

So of the $400 for the tickets I see it is fair that you receive yours for free and buy out his ticket if you wish to take someone else for $200. No this does not make him a ‘indian giver’ as I see it, nor does it negate the gift you made.

I’m assuming this is a not entirely precise statement of what she said to the ex. Or else he wouldn’t have released the tickets.


Do you not understand that you are no longer similarly situated than you were when you were dating? He didn’t treat you different. He treated you as an acquaintence instead of a lover. Which you were.


You owe him the 100 dollars, and you both sound really obnoxious.

Is this ex “Greg”? Does he need the money for his kids? If so, then give it to him.

Just my opinion.