People in relationships exchange gifts all the time. Holiday gifts. Birthday gifts. Wedding gifts. You name it. When the relationship is on, it seems like it’ll last forever. But people grow up and change, they choose to part ways. It’s sad but true. Gifts may stand out as a beautiful memory, or a representation of an abusive relationship. But what to do when someone asks for a gift back?
You can justify holding it because when the person gave you the gift, they were intentional and wanted you to have it. If they change their mind later, it’s not your fault. It’s still “best practice” to return the gift. Plus, you may get into legal trouble if you refused to give the gift back.
Just give it back. It’s not worth the trouble, you don’t want something to remind you of that person. But if you don’t mind the constant reminder, you can keep it in some cases. If you’re interested in knowing what to do when someone asks for a gift back, then keep reading.
What To Do When Someone Asks For A Gift Back
It’s never a happy experience when someone asks to return a gift. Asking for a gift back could be embarrassing for everyone involved. The only positive thing about it is that it’s not you who’s asking for a gift back.
You might know the motive behind the gift in the first place. Perhaps, it was your birthday, special holiday, or wedding. At any rate, it’s even harder to determine the motive behind asking for the gift back.
Assume goodwill, and return the gift when you can. The person might be in a tougher situation than you imagine. They might be afraid to explain the situation to you. They might have their reasons.
But before you return the gift, try to figure out why they’re asking you to return the gift. It’s possible that they need your help more than they need the gift back.
Sometimes, it might be obvious why they’re asking for a gift back. If you recently broke up with them, had a big fight, or hurt their feelings in some way. In some cases, you want to keep the gift because the intention was to keep it when they gave it to you.
In other cases, you want to forget the relationship and don’t want something to remind you of them. But if they ask for it out of the blue, try to ask them what’s wrong.
Are they going through some financial problems and want the gift back so they can sell it? Maybe they’re afraid to tell you about it. Furthermore, they might want the gift back to cause you some emotional damage.
All in all, whether you decide to give it back or not, it’s still a headache.
If Someone Gives You Money Can They Ask For It Back
Money is a sensitive issue between friends and family. First, you have to determine whether it was given as a gift or a loan.
Sometimes, people gift you with money when they have lots of it. And when their circumstances change, they might ask you to return it. But you may have spent it, and don’t have enough to pay them back.
In that case, apologize to them. There’s really nothing you can do to give it back.
But if it was a loan, you must return it. Especially, if it was a big loan.
In both cases, it’s hard for them to ask for their money back. So, be as gentle as you can be. Assure them that you’ll return it as soon as you can because you don’t know what they’re going through.
Usually, people won’t ask for their money back unless they’re in a tough situation and need the money. You have to go back to the time when they gave you the money. Was there any agreement about whether it’s a gift or a loan?
Do you have evidence that it was a gift? Like, emails, WhatsApp messages, or even a tweet? You need to prove that it was a gift in case that person takes it to the court. Yes, they can take it to the court as will be clarified down below.
The person might give you money as a gift, and decide later that it was a loan. So, when taking money from someone, it’s important to ask them (be subtle!) whether it’s a gift, loan, or something else. And you must have screenshots or recordings that it was a gift.
Money gifts are a one-time action, and the giver doesn’t have a right to ask for them back. Once given, the money becomes yours to do as you please with it.
Even if the person decides later to ask for it back, they must prove that there’s some agreement that you’ll return it.
Do You Legally Have To Give Gifts Back?
Unless there was a legal agreement, the other person can’t take any legal action against you. Still, they can go to a small court and force you to give it back.
You don’t need a lawyer to go to a small court. You can file a claim with little to no fees if you believe you were manipulated in some way to give the gift.
In that case, the person will still need to prove their case. That’s why you need to have proof that you received the gift as a gift.
After a relationship breaks up, a person will go to a small court and ask for their gifts back. It’s common practice. They might not need the gift but want to cause you some trouble.
If that happens to you, don’t get intimidated. Again, have some proof that it was a gift. Otherwise, the court might order you to return the gift.
Did the person send threatening messages? Do you have photos that prove it was a gift? Do you have gift receipts?
Gather all your evidence to support your case. You might think it’s not worth the trouble. But the gift might hold a sentimental or monetary value and it wouldn’t be easy to lose it.
There are cases when you’re obliged to return the gift. For example, a woman must return her engagement diamond ring in case of breaking up. Although it was a gift, it was a “conditional gift” based on the promise of marriage. If there’s no marriage, then she must return the ring.
A girlfriend might sue her boyfriend to return the video game console she bought him while in the relationship. But if the boyfriend can prove it was a gift by showing a screenshot of her Facebook status stating it was a gift, she has a weaker position.
The legal side is complicated, but yes, a person can legally force you to return their gift or money. And it falls on you to prove that it was an unreturnable gift when you received it. It doesn’t even take a lawyer to sue you for small gifts up to $5,000 in the US.
In the UK, if you don’t respond to a small court claim, they’ll assume you’re “guilty” and force you to pay. So, if somebody sues you in a small claim, don’t ignore it. And if you have evidence that proves your innocence, don’t hesitate to respond.
What Is It Called When Someone Gives You Something Then Takes It Back?
Call it a gift with strings attached, manipulative, bribe, blackmail, or even lame. There’s also the American expression, “Indian Giver” to describe people who give something and ask for it back. Whatever you call it, always “assume goodwill.”
There’s no way you can see the point of view of another person completely. Try to be a little understanding. Certainly, you can find some excuse for this behavior. Sometimes, you hurt people without knowing. When offended by friends, people keep to themselves.
They’ll hide their hurt feelings because they don’t want to push the issue further.
If you people in your life start asking for their gifts back, it’s worth overthinking why they do. If it’s something you can fix, find out what it is. If they’re just being lame, it’s in your best interest to get rid of them and their gifts.
If they’re being narcissists, you don’t have to be. Err on the side of caution, and try to save your relationship. Sometimes, you’re obliged to return the gift. Sometimes, you’re better off keeping it to yourself.
In any case, it’s not worth losing a friend over a gift even if it’s a gold bar!
Can Gifted Money Be Taken Back?
When you can prove that it was a gift when you received it, then no, it can’t be taken back. The person might take legal action against you and claim it was a loan. But unless they can prove it, they can’t use the law to force you to return the gifted money.
It sounds a little bit awkward, but whenever you receive a high-value gift, keep proof that it was a gift. In case the person decides later to get it back, you can prove they gave it to you as a gift. Therefore, they can’t ask for it back.