how should i have handled this?
April 12, 2015 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Awkward situation involving my SO, a bike, and a friend. I did this wrong, but I really don't know ethically what was the right thing to do.

About four years ago my friend Billy was going through some tough times. He was evicted from his apartment and had to scramble to find a new place. Ultimately he ended up moving back in with his mom but he couldn't take all of his stuff to her house, so me and several of his other friends agreed to hold on to some of his things for him until he got his life sorted.

I ended up with, among other things, a really nice bike. My SO likes this bike, and Billy gave him (and anyone really who hung out at my place) free reign to use the bike if they wanted.

So, it's been four years and Billy still has not retrieved his bike or his other things. He has bounced around a lot in terms of living situation and job situation (two layoffs, bad credit, general bad luck) in these four years and obviously the bike is not a high priority for him compared to regaining some stability. However, it is sort of frustrating that I'm kind of babysitting a bunch of his stuff (including some clothes, a bookshelf, and a drumset in addition to the bike) with no end in sight.

My SO says that at this point, Billy's bike is basically mine, and he would like to have it. He said that I should tell Billy that if he doesn't claim the bike by Easter, I would claim ownership and give it to SO. (He also suggested I do the same regarding Billy's other things - giving them away or selling them as it's been too long.)

I though ok, I guess that makes sense. So I gave Billy the ultimatum. Easter came and went and Billy didn't claim the bike. I texted Billy and said okay, it looks like the bike is mine.

Yesterday, my SO was on his way down to visit me (he lives a couple of hours away) and said that he would take the bike home with him once the weekend visit was done since Billy did not follow through. However, while my SO was en route to my house, Billy showed up, apologizing profusely for not having come last week to take the bike. His brother, who has cancer, has been in the hospital for the last 10 days and is essentially on palliative care right now and has been given at most a month to live, and Billy did not want to leave the hospital.

I felt like a dick for having given Billy a bike ultimatum while this awful thing has been happening in his life. So I let Billy take his bike, even though he was technically "too late."

My SO is now mad about this. He is saying that the drop dead date was Easter and he went out of his way to bring a different, larger car this weekend when he came to see me, assuming he'd be coming back with a bike, and really I shouldn't have ever agreed to give SO the bike when I wasn't willing to follow through on the ultimatum. He's right, but now there is a lot of tension in the house and I am struggling to understand how I could have handled this better.

Ethically, did I do the right thing by returning Billy's bike to him even though it was past the deadline? Given his brother's health I feel I did, but did I betray my word to my SO in doing so?

I feel like I was put in a position where I was either going to disappoint an old friend who has had a lot of struggle and upheaval in his life who is now facing his brother's death, or I was going to disappoint my SO, who I do love and who I feel has a decent point when it comes to the fact that I have been keeping many of Billy's things for 4+ years now (his other stuff is still here!).

I have now disappointed my SO, and I feel like a shitty girlfriend for having done so. What should I have done? How could I have handled this better? And is there a way I can make this up to SO?
posted by thereemix to Human Relations (93 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would say that you did the kind and generous thing, and your SO should act like a gracious adult and accept that the loaner bike has gone back to its owner.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2015 [218 favorites]

Wow, your SO has a shocking lack of empathy. IMO, he's being selfish.
posted by Ruki at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2015 [186 favorites]

Your boyfriend is kind of being a jerk here. It is 100% not his bike! He had no business pushing you to give Billy an ultimatum, nor does he have any right to be pissy at you giving him an extra week forgiveness. So what he got a larger car? He needs to get over it and buy a nice bike if he wants a nice bike.

The whole babysitting Billy's stuff for years IS obnoxious,but it has nothing to do with your SO and the current bike situation. It was kind of you to give the bike back, it's a big investment and if he's having trouble getting on his feet, one he is unlikely to be able to replace.
posted by stormygrey at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2015 [57 favorites]

You, in my opinion, did the right thing.

Your SO has a wonderful, giving GF who is being careful to make ethical and considerate decisions on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the personal situations of all involved.

SO also had 4 years to test-ride and make use of a certain model of bike he can now purchase for himself, knowing that he will love it! He might do well to remember that he has so much, and maybe Billy does not have a lot right now. Lovingkindness.

Billy has a great friend who is extending herself to help him out, perhaps a little too much in letting him house his stuff at your place as long as you have, but it would seem that his life is not as lucky or good at this point as you and your SO's. When the time is right, in the very near future, Billy can and should make a direct plan to get the rest of his stuff out of your house. It will be hard with all he has to do with his brother, but part of living and moving on is really getting everything in order.

You might want to give yourself a break.
posted by oflinkey at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [28 favorites]

Billy was technically "too late" on your agreement but it's also "technically" Billy's bike. Like, if you went to court the judge would say "Sucks that he's late but it's Billy's bike." The dude's having rough times and was only a week late. A week into 4 years is nothing and the guy showed up and got his bike. Your SO's being immature and pouty, but they can go buy a new bike and it seems like Billy can't and may even need it for transportation.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [30 favorites]

Your SO is not being very cool, in my opinion. I understand him feeling a little bummed and for about 1 second cursing the luck of Billy picking up the bike on the very day he went to the trouble of coming in the bigger car, but I can't believe he doesn't have compassion for someone whose brother is dying. If he isn't as down on his luck as Billy, he also could've offered to buy the bike. It isn't that long after Easter, and it'd be nice to give a small grace period after the ultimatum date anyway. You did the right thing, and it's too bad your SO doesn't see the world the same way.
posted by salvia at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

Wow, yes. I think you absolutely did the right thing and your SO needs to dial it back right quick.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [14 favorites]

Your SO is being a jerk. He wanted Billy's bike, so he pushed you to give Billy an ultimatum. (It sounds like it was a short one? I'm not sure how much time you gave him to get the bike.) Easter was last weekend, and a few days afterwards he came and got the bike.
posted by jeather at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [20 favorites]

You did absolutely nothing wrong. Your SO is being a brat.
posted by alligatorman at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2015 [19 favorites]

Your SO is inserting himself into your friendship with Billy. You and Billy were the ones who set the terms of storage, and you have the right to decide how to manage and negotiate that friendship with Billy. Your SO shouldn't get angry about the way you handle a relationship that doesn't involve him.

Quite frankly, I think your SO is sort of being a dick. He saw a way to get something he wanted for free, and is now being incredibly unkind to one of your friends(!) when they are in the middle of an incredibly hard life crisis. Is he really going to let his desire for a bike trump your compassion for a friend who's in the middle of his brother dying?

The right way for your SO to handle this would be to buy his own bike. Not to force you to give a friend an ultimatum and then force you to be an uncaring jerk to him.

You did the right thing.
posted by lilac girl at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2015 [68 favorites]

Pretty sure "brother with cancer" trumps any free stuff ultimatum. Billy didn't give your SO his stuff to hold, he gave it to you. He did this, presumably, because you are a friend and understanding. The end of the ultimatum didn't make the bike your SO's; it only made it yours to do with as you see fit (and even that feels sketchy legally to me). You saw fit to return it to the person to whom it rightfully belongs. Your SO is not only out of line, but sounds like a bit of a dick. I'm kind of shocked that he seems to not have compassion for Billy's situation and only feel resentful that thanks to cancer he may have to actually buy a bike.
posted by Mchelly at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2015 [18 favorites]

Your SO is being a child invoking "finders keepers losers weepers" and "no backsies" rules. You did nothing wrong here. Tell your SO to grow up and buy his own bike.
posted by cecic at 10:21 AM on April 12, 2015 [23 favorites]

You did the right thing. I understand your SO's disappointment because he thought he was going to get a bike, but my thinking is this way:

1. Even where claims to things are murky, the original owner has a little bit of an edge. So if Billy got your ultimatum and didn't respond for four months and your SO took the bike, that would seem legit (although I would still probably return the bike if it were me) but if there's some overlap in time/communication and you still had the bike, it seems better to return it.

2. You are the one who incurred the inconvenience, not your SO. So you get to decide how much inconvenience you incur, even if other people think it's too much.

3. Okay, Billy is a flake and this whole thing just illustrates that when you are flakey, sometimes you are not just going to be in a rush, you're going to miss the deadline because serious things will pile up on top of your general flakiness. But part of Being A Better Person is accepting a certain amount of excuses and flakiness and personal crisis. If it wasn't a huge, giant inconvenience to you to hold the bike the extra ten days, pretending that it was in order to make the bike over to your SO is wrong.

4. The implicit aspect of this ultimatum: the way this ultimatum usually goes is that it clarifies whether the person wants the stuff or not. This kind of ultimatum really isn't about "how can I give this person short notice so that I can take their stuff"; it's about "how can I establish a framework so that if I don't hear from them and then I give it away, they will know that I tried". If you're saying "I have the bike but you can't have it back because you missed the deadline", you're edging over into "I sent you this deadine in the hopes that you would miss it and I would take your stuff".

I have experience with this - the very bed that I sleep on was abandoned by a housemate who had a personal crisis. It's difficult.
posted by Frowner at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2015 [33 favorites]

Your SO sounds annoyed at the situation, which is understandable, but most reasonable adults would understand why you returned the bike to its owner.
posted by samthemander at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

I should add: I did something similar once with a dog. My SO's friend dropped it off at another friend's house when he went world traveling, and eventually the dog ended up at our house. I told my SO to warn his friend that if he didn't come get the dog in 3 months we wouldn't give it back, since there was no way I'd get attached to it only to have to give it back. A week after we got the dog I said nope we're keeping her and never giving her back.

If his friend had shown up later, even long after the terms of our agreement, and gave us the story your friend gave you I would've handed the dog over immediately. You don't kick someone when they're down.
posted by lilac girl at 10:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think the "ultimatum" was a little unfair from the start. I think your SO should have offered to buy the bike from Billy at a modest fair price. While its a pain when someone abandons their stuff with you, it seems like your SO was excited to get something for nothing. Seems a little grasping.
posted by vunder at 10:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [78 favorites]

Your SO's demands were gross in the first place, and they are grosser now.

Like, I would consider splitting up with a long-term partner if this was not their first act of startling lack of compassion.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2015 [120 favorites]

IMO, it's your SO who doesn't come off well here. He got free use of this bike for quite a while and now he's in a snit because you were kind to someone who's life is a mess? He could have offered to buy the bike from Billy instead of trying to get it for free.

You did the right thing. Instead of trying to appease your boyfriend, you should be asking if you want to be with someone who would look in the face of someone less advantaged and say "I'm taking your bike."

This is even grosser if your boyfriend is perfectly able to purchase his own damn bike.
posted by bunderful at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2015 [27 favorites]

How should you have handled it? Exactly how you did handle it--with compassion and understanding. Your SO should let it go and should certainly not be angry at you. You did nothing wrong. If your SO had insisted on keeping it, that would have been wrong.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

Is your SO actually 12 or just acting like it?

You did nothing wrong here, and your SO doesn't get to have a free bike just because you've been doing someone else a favour for a few years. Where exactly does his tremendous sense of entitlement come from in this?

The sick brother detail just serves to reinforce the fact that your SO is being an asshole.

I assume he has other redeeming qualities, because if this was someone I was dating, I would seriously be considering my DTFMA options at this point.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2015 [31 favorites]

I think the actual right thing to do would have been for SO to offer Billy $500 for the bike from the start. The fact that he thought it would be ok to just claim something he wanted is gross and he has nothing to be pissy about. He should really be cowering away in shame.
posted by bleep at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2015 [35 favorites]

Even if your SO had been the one who agreed to store the bike, and even leaving aside the brother with cancer, refusing to give it back one week late after four years would have been kind of a dick move.

The fact that your SO tried to annex a bike that belongs either to Billy or to you—but in either case not to him—pushes him over the line from "kind of a dick" into "entitled asshole" territory.

You did nothing wrong. Tell him to quit whining and buy his own bike.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2015 [19 favorites]

Even without the brother in the hospital, you still did the right thing. If SO wants the bike so badly, he can offer to buy it from Billy for a fair price.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2015 [15 favorites]

My SO is now mad about this. He is saying that the drop dead date was Easter

This isn't the kind of thing you assign a 'drop dead' date to -- that's for businesses and government agencies and mortgages and horrible personal crises, not 'claiming bicycles that aren't yours by arbitrary default dates.'

It's inappropriate that he's angry at you and whether or not you store someone else's stuff for four years is your decision to wrestle with, and on top of it you were nice to let him enjoy it for a while in the first place. He should be apologizing for being petty.

And that's without even touching on the whole 'dying family member' scenario.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2015 [16 favorites]

You absolutely did the right thing. I was very surprised to read through your story and see that your SO did not even offer Billy a token amount for his bike, after having had free use of it for several years, and knowing that Billy is going through hard times.

If this is typical behaviour for this guy--both the blatant advantage-taking and the guilt-mongering--you might want to consider what the future holds for you in this relationship. Users generally end up using everyone around them.
posted by rpfields at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2015 [17 favorites]

It sounds like your SO is trying to frame this as "helping you to be more assertive" when really he just wants something that he (ridiculously) feels entitled to. Show him how assertive you are by dumping him.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2015 [58 favorites]

he went out of his way to bring a different, larger car this weekend when he came to see me

Wait a minute, he drove down a couple of hours to see you for the weekend and then pissed it away being mad because he didn't get a bike?

Well jeez.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2015 [26 favorites]

Look, if the stuff at your place is an inconvenience for you, you're within your rights to say something like "Hey, Billy, I can't store this stuff long term. What do you want to do here? Do you have a long-term goal for dealing with this and getting your stuff, or do you want to sell it and accept it's gone? You have until X deadline and then I assume you don't want it. We can talk about what to do if you want, but I need some plan for getting this stuff out of my life." (For me, that deadline would have to be at least a month, given you'd had the stuff for years.) Note that I said for you, since you are the one storing it, and not your SO.

However. That's not what your SO did. Your SO wanted the bike, and his behavior makes it very clear that for him this was less about wanting the stuff gone--from your place!--and more about wanting the bike for his very own. That shit is not kind, and he put you in a pretty nasty circumstance re Billy. Frankly, I think he is well served by having the bike gone (so now he can't use it) and still not having it for himself. If he wanted the bike so badly, he should have offered to buy it from Billy. It sounds like Billy could certainly use the money and wasn't getting much use out of the bike anyway, so that would have been a net gain for all of you. Your SO got greedy and thought he could get it for free. Yeah, Billy was a bit flakey, but frankly I have had a fraction of that amount of upheaval in my life and I could tell you that it would take some time and mental brainpower to figure out what on earth I was going to do with my stuff. Your actions sound compassionate and about as fair as you could possibly be under these circumstances.

TL;DR: Your SO is being a selfish jackass and you did the right thing. If he's making you feel bad over it, maybe consider what good things you are getting out of your relationship with him and whether they are worth this bullshit. Because this is totally bullshit.
posted by sciatrix at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2015 [23 favorites]

thereemix: "I have now disappointed my SO, and I feel like a shitty girlfriend for having done so. "

His disappointment is on him. Far from being a shitty girlfriend, you're an awesome girlfriend and he's an entitled douche. Give him a week to STFU or you'll drop *him*.
posted by notsnot at 10:51 AM on April 12, 2015 [21 favorites]

Oops hit post too soon -
I heard somewhere to always err on the side of kindness. In this case, the bigger kindness is to give Billy back his bike than letting your boyfriend have it.
posted by notsnot at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

You know how they say to watch how a potential SO treats waitstaff or those they could consider to be "below" them in some way? I feel like this a red flag along those lines. Your boyfriend has shown that he has no qualms punching down. Consider how much kindness and compassion he is likely to show you, were you ever in a position to really need it.
posted by peacheater at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2015 [60 favorites]

What should I have done?

Exactly what you did do. (If you had a time machine, you could maybe have gone back and been clearer with Billy that you'd need the stuff out sooner, but under the circumstances it doesn't sound as if it's inconvenienced you all that much.) Sounds like your BF got a lot of free use of a nice bike actually. And when Billy came round and asked for his bike back, you gave it to him, like any decent person would.

How could I have handled this better?

Gotten in the time machine, grown a pair and told your BF to back off, back when he started making grabs for the bike.

And is there a way I can make this up to SO?

Wrong question. The question you need to ask, not of us but of yourself, is "was this the only time I've seen my BF be a sneaky, pouty bully with no sense of human decency?" because if it isn't (and I'd be surprised if it isn't) you ought to break up with him. Someone who blames you for not stealing the bike of your friend whose brother has cancer doesn't sound like anyone you need to be making anything "up" to.

Sorry if that sounds mean or if you're not getting the answers you wanted. Nobody here is meaning to be cruel; we're concerned that you're under the emotional thumb of a mean, nasty guy, and not even realizing it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2015 [20 favorites]

he went out of his way to bring a different, larger car this weekend when he came to see me

Aw. Too bad. So sad.

You are a good, caring, empathatic person. Keep being a good person. You did absolutely nothing wrong.

I would sell the rest of the stuff for cheap, and give the money to Billy, to be honest. That's what I would do. Yes, you've been holding it for him but if it hasn't been an inconvenience and you got to use the bike for 4 years, it's not a big deal. Your SO will be furious if you give the money to Billy though.
posted by the webmistress at 11:16 AM on April 12, 2015

You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for. Keep repeating that to yourself until it sinks in.

The only person in the wrong here is your SO. Based on this question, he sounds manipulative and hugely lacking in empathy.

I mean, it was already kind of disingenuous the way he pushed you to give this ultimatum just so he could get this free bike that he had no claim to, and then he's mad at you because you let the actual owner of the bike reclaim it a week "late"? Even without the brother dying of cancer thing, it still would have been the right thing to do to return Billy's bike to him.

Then, your SO tries to make you feel guilty? Because he didn't get his free bike? Oh and because of this "huge" inconvenience:

he went out of his way to bring a different, larger car this weekend when he came to see me

Unless this is some bizarre aberration from his normal demeanor, I would seriously consider taking a step back from this relationship.

And yes, I know I'm mostly just agreeing with what other people have said here, but I'm hoping that maybe hearing this fairly unanimous response will help you reality check this situation.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

I would sell the rest of the stuff for cheap, and give the money to Billy, to be honest.

This could be a good thing. If you go that route I'd suggest negotiating it with Billy beforehand 1) make sure he is okay with you selling it and 2) what price ranges are reasonable.
posted by bunderful at 11:28 AM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

Billy is broke, and its his bike. I imagine your SO is not broke, and its not his bike, he could probably buy his own bike if he really wanted one.

You did the right thing.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I thought I recognized your username, so I glanced through your question history, and I'd like to add:

I'm kind of concerned that you don't see how in the wrong your SO is. I don't mean that in a judge-y way, and I still don't think you should feel guilty, but I worry that this could be part of a larger pattern, and I hate to see you so upset because you feel like you "wronged" your SO, when the only one who should feel bad is your SO, for manipulating you for his own gain, and then guilting you because you responded compassionately and fairly to your friend.

When you come from a dysfunctional family, it's hard to really see all the ways that can warp your sense of the world. Having someone who is an impartial but empathetic third party, like a therapist, can really make a huge difference in helping you work through these kinds of issues.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:35 AM on April 12, 2015 [22 favorites]

First, your boyfriend is an unbelievable ass. I would DTMFA.

Second, regarding the rest of Billy's stuff: yeah, he should come get it, but I really do not think now's the time to bring it up. Unless it is an unbelievable inconvenience for you in some way, I would wait a few months at the very least. The guy's brother is *dying*. Don't mention his stuff for a while.
posted by sunflower16 at 11:35 AM on April 12, 2015 [10 favorites]

You are NOT a shitty girlfriend. You behaved ethically and kindly and that's exactly what makes you a good person. I think you were as graceful as you could have been in sort of a fraught situation. Your boyfriend is being a jerk. I hope he's not like this normally.
posted by Aquifer at 11:49 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Given the framing of your question and the fact that you said you did something wrong, when I was reading through your question, I thought that you weren't going to have given Billy his bike back and that was the problem. But you did! No problem! I agree with everyone else that your SO is being douchy, and if this is typical behavior for him, you might want to rethink some things. It is a little worrying that you feel so bad. If anything in this article about gaslighting seems applicable, then I think you should get out, as quickly as possible.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:49 AM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm going to insert a cynical note. Did you know Billy even had a brother? I have had the cancer card played on me before by someone trying to leverage considerations out of me, because most people know it's a "get out of jail free" card. In that case it was a flat-out lie, and I've heard of similar stories.

I'm not saying Billy doesn't deserve his bike, but I'm wondering about the convenience of the drama in helping him get around your expressed deadline. Four years is a long time to look after someone's stuff. It wasn't unreasonable for you to ask him to resolve that, the boyfriend's wishes aside.
posted by zadcat at 12:04 PM on April 12, 2015

I don't think it matters if his brother has cancer. It's his bike. Declaring that it would become yours by x date does not make it so. You would be within your rights to tell Billy he needs to make arrangements to remove his stuff or you'll dispose of it as you see fit. But if you tell him the deadline is Friday and he shows up on Saturday, it's still his to recover, if you still have it. Your boyfriend's behavior is appalling.
posted by Mavri at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2015 [14 favorites]

I disagree with everyone else here. In my time I've seen tons of flotsam, jetsam, useless junk and spurious material possessions with various vague claims to ownership pass through hands in shared spaces and overstuffed garages, but the ultimate defining claim to possession is if an object is within your reach and under your control. Foster goods turn into orphan goods pretty soon if you don't have an explicit agreement otherwise.

I think Billy would have taken away his drum kit instead of his bike from the deathbed if that was the object in question.
posted by ovvl at 12:14 PM on April 12, 2015

Sounds like you only imposed the "drop dead date" because your SO forced the issue, and not for altruistic reasons, but because he wanted a free bike for himself.

I worry a bit about your boundaries. He's not in charge of you, your friendships, your arrangements with friends, your property, or your friends' property. I get that Billy has a history of flaking-- he seems the type where it'll always be something dramatic and I suspect some of his "bad luck" may be consequences of his bad decisions. And reasonably, there would be an end point to your babysitting his stuff, but that is entirely between you and Billy. That too makes me worry about your boundaries-- are you really comfortable taking care of Billy's stuff until the end of time?

Sounds like you wouldn't stand up to your SO or to Billy and they both took advantage.

You did the right thing here. Your SO acted selfishly and in a controlling way. Honestly, and I never say this, but your SO ought to be ashamed of himself for his actions here! He tried to manipulate you into getting someone else's property for him on a technicality.

If anyone should be mad it's you. Why aren't you?
posted by kapers at 12:16 PM on April 12, 2015 [16 favorites]

Your boyfriend should have offered to buy the bike, how he acted wasn't above board AT ALL.
posted by pairofshades at 12:31 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Billy does have a brother, I've met him several times, has been battling cancer for 5 years. Spoke to their mother last night. Prognosis not good. Billy is not a liar. Just flakey and with a long string of bad luck.
posted by thereemix at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

He rented a car to steal a bike and is mad it didn't work out so he's blaming you.
posted by parki at 12:40 PM on April 12, 2015 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your kind words and perspective. This is out of character for SO and we will have a longer conversation about this. I suspect he may have been trying to help me be better about boundaries and less of a doormat but this is not the way to do that. He can absolutely afford a bike on his own.

I don't feel bad for giving Billy his bike, just bummed that it caused an argument, and confused as to why it went down like this.
posted by thereemix at 12:42 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Man. I think your SO accidentally learned a lesson about your "being a doormat." Namely, that you aren't his doormat. And now he's pouting about that.
posted by kapers at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2015 [55 favorites]

I won't pass judgement on SO since I don't know him but just chiming in that his request for the ultimatum was out of line in the first place. You did the right thing. I don't know why your SO thinks he should get a free bike out of this situation. The honorable thing would have been to offer to buy it for some fair used bike price.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I suspect he may have been trying to help me be better about boundaries

You can be better about boundaries by letting your boyfriend own his own feelings and not put the blame on you for doing the right, decent human being thing. This is literally the only thing I can think of that you could have done differently here.

Nthing everyone else - your boyfriend is seriously in the wrong here and has no justification whatsoever for treating you like you did something wrong. When the two of you do talk about this, please do so from this position.

You did the right thing, you are NOT a shitty girlfriend, and any attempt to make you feel like you are should be recognized as invalid.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah this had nothing to do with you being a doormat and everything to do with your boyfriend not getting a new toy that he had zero claim over to begin with. It wasn't even like you live together and therefore he was sharing the burden of storing the bike this whole time. If anyone had a claim, it was you. If you had put it on craigslist and sold it before your friend came I would be like well sorry dude, it's gone. But your boyfriend just thought he was getting an awesome bike for free, having done nothing to earn it or pay for it.

It's weird to begin with that he pressured you to give your friend an ultimatum. Don't kid yourself, this is just about your boyfriend being mad his manipulation of the situation didn't result in him getting a free bike. His behavior is super gross.

And I agree if he wanted the bike, he should have just made Billy an offer. Instead he tried to unsuccessfully profit from your generosity and Billy being down on his luck.
posted by whoaali at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

What I think is that you basically actually did everything right. There's only so long you should be expected to hold on to a friend's property. Hence, the ultimatum. That was cool.

But the thing is, the purpose of the ultimatum isn't to impose a technical game of gotcha. It's to make the owner get his stuff back, or to eliminate your responsibility of continuing to hold it for him. So when your friend came to get the bike, even though past your deadline, you were right to give it back because you still had it -- regardless of whether he had an excuse, although he most certainly did.

Your boyfriend should realize that you did the right thing, and apologize for suggesting you didn't. If he doesn't, you will have learned something important about him (such as, he might be a prick or lack empathy or be self-centered).
posted by J. Wilson at 1:00 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

SO should offer to help you out by offering to buy some of Billy's stuff, and/or offering to help Billy sell it and get it out of your house.

Maybe you can do the same for Billy. He has no immediate need for a drum set he hasn't seen in 4 years. You could help him sell it on Craig's List and get him a few bucks.

SO's demand for a free bicycle was no help to you or Billy. The bike is probably a lot smaller than the other stuff you're storing for Billy. Billy must have thought it pretty weird that the bike was the only item you wanted him to get out of your house.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your SO is being an utter dick. From "I like this thing that is someone else's property, so you should give it to me" to "you broke a promise to meeeeeeeeee, fuck that other guy" he honestly sounds like a terrible, entitled, spoiled child of a human being.

To answer the question: you should have handled this by putting on your appalled face and dumping him.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

I suspect he may have been trying to help me be better about boundaries

God, I hope not. 'Helping' someone with boundary issues is respecting their boundaries, not subbing in the helper's boundaries and trying to get them to enforce them on the helper's behalf.

(I apologize to all for how incoherent that sentence is.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:15 PM on April 12, 2015 [19 favorites]

You handled it the way it should have been handled. I would be thankful your friend got there to get his bike before your boyfriend took it. Because if the bike was gone you would have had to tell your friend it was gone - leaving you feeling two inches tall. You have nothing to feel bad about.
posted by just asking at 1:15 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow, i can't believe i'm almost the sole dissenting voice here in any way.

I think you were both right.

I've been on both sides of this. And what you did is what i would secretly hope someone would do if i had left my stuff with them, but not what i feel like i could in any way reasonably expect.

Bikes are huge and awkward, they take up a large amount of space that's more than they even look like they would because of how they're shaped. They're annoying to store, especially if you don't have a ton of room. And even if you do, they just waste room. 4 years is also a REALLY REALLY long time to leave something at someone elses house, especially considering he also left other stuff there including other awkward huge stuff like a drumset(!).

I think, at the beginning, your boyfriend was pretty much right. I think where he fell off the mostly-right train was being a dick after the fact.

I also think it's kinda lame that while that situation is fucked for your friend, if it mattered that much to him why didn't he get it sooner? Because he knew you wouldn't do anything.

The key here would have been communication. You should have said at say, the beginning of February, hey this can't stay here past easter. Any of the stuff. How much notice did you give him? If you gave him plenty, and he didn't come til the last possible second then dropped that story i would be annoyed but feel like i also couldn't say anything without being a huge dickhead and i hate that. It feels like manipulation. But if you only gave him a weeks notice, then eh, i don't think that was quite enough of a heads up.

I think your boyfriend was completely right that you let this go on for way too long, especially with physically huge stuff like that. But i think where it might have gone wrong is letting it go on for so long then not giving enough notice. I think there needs to have been at least a month, and i'm not clear on that from this explanation.

If there WAS plenty of notice, i think your boyfriend was more right and your friend was kind of crappy for showing up at the last possible second. But not nearly as crappy as your boyfriend was for going "i drove ALL THIS WAY AND GOT THIS HUGE CAR?!?!". If there wasn't much notice, then this is almost entirely on your boyfriend.

I don't think this is just a by-default your boyfriend is a dick thing. But i think how much it is depends entirely on how much notice your friend got. If you told him like, two months in advance, then showing up at the last second is vaguely lame, and would be outright tiresome without the extenuating circumstances. If you told him a week in advance then nah.

Either way though, i DO think your boyfriend has a point about boundaries and letting people store stuff like this. Even if he ended up being a raging cock after the fact, which kind of muddied it. I can very, very much relate the frustration of having to tend things for way too long that people left at your house they just keep not getting, and keep having reasons they can't which can at least be partially tied to personal irresponsibility. It's also frustrating to watch a parter perpetually put up with that sort of thing. I don't think it's some controlling dickhead thing to be frustrated to watch that, and i also don't think he gets utterly no comment or say if you guys are going to be partners.

I also don't think it's lacking empathy to think that someone who left something somewhere for 4 years doesn't really care that much about it, because they don't. If someone posted about having left their own stuff for that long on ask, and whether they should keep it, people would probably tell them they didn't really care and to ditch it.

I also think there could have been more communication on your friends part here. Something other than showing up and dropping that story. Hell, he could have sent a quick text even just saying "hey, i'm dealing with this situation, i can't really do this right now, can we work something out?". I have been in shitty family health situations and i didn't just ignore all responsibilities or not deal with shit.

You would not have been wrong or a horrible cock to say "sorry, i already got rid of the stuff" is my point. It wouldn't matter if your boyfriend had it, or goodwill. You did a nice thing, but you didn't do the only right thing. And your boyfriend only started being wrong when he was a footstomping toddler after the fact. Both courses of action here would have been ok, for different reasons.
posted by emptythought at 1:45 PM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think you did the right thing.

RE: your boyfriend helping you with boundaries --- I agree with the person above who said that this doesn't mean he gets to push his boundaries on you. But even so, consider: if the objective was to get Billy to come and get his stuff and stop inconveniencing you, well, you did that! The fact that BF is upset makes me wonder if this was not about "helping you with boundaries," but getting something for free and/or PUNISHING Billy for inconveniencing you.
posted by CMcG at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

What he did is the opposite of supporting you in "being better" about boundaries for yourself -- he's stomping all over them and then telling you you're in the wrong. Keeping Billy's things over time has been your choice, and you've done it with your own free will. *I* have confidence that you could/would have handled it on your own, in a way that matched with your values and that honored your friendship with Billy. For your SO to guilt you about the larger car he brought (wtf) and chastising you about what you "shouldn't have done," and now being mad at you and letting you (WANTING you to) believe that you've "disappointed him" and are a shitty girlfriend (WTF)... Jiminy, who the hell does he think he is??

For him to act that he knows your mind better than you, and that if you don't do things the way he has prescribed (in a way that just-coincidentally benefits him much more than anyone else involved), then that means you've done wrong and done HIM wrong, personally........ it's more than a bad sign, it's a bad billboard/Jumbotron/skywriting package. I know I'm being a bit glib, but as with many others above, ask me how I know. [No, seriously: feel free to MeMail me, any time.]

Your boyfriend didn't get his way (free bike! grateful, compliant (inferior-minded) girlfriend!), he seems to think he was entitled to get it, and now that he didn't he wants you to learn a lesson about "letting him down." Twisting it into him only wanting to help you be better about your boundaries and you disappointing him is Grade A gaslighting bullshit.

I understand and believe that you love him, and that this may seem like many of us are overreacting to a complicated and relatively small situation. But we don't get many chances to see clearly what others' ethics are, where they fall out when it comes to their own self-interest versus any other consideration, and how willing (let alone eager) they are for their SOs to feel bad, and bad about theirselves, and to convince them that THEY'RE the ones who should be feeling guilty and apologizing to him and trying to "do better" (for him) from now on. For him. If you had a child, the way he's acted in this situation is what he would advise your child is the best way to act.

Look at how much he cares, deep down, about your and Billy's interests and feelings. Give yourself some time to at least reflect on the joy and warmth and delightfulness-as-a-person in his heart, and mind, and mouth. His [bullshit] argument that he was trying to help you and that therefore you now deserve to feel bad is belittling and mindfucking and inappropriate for the person who's supposed to be your #1 ally in this world. If you'd be uncomfortable with your child building his/her own moral compass on your SO's coaching and his worldview, that's your gut--who YOU are--telling you something important.

Again, we don't get many chances to see clearly what your SO is showing you. Yes, it's probably a complicated (and relatively small) situation. But life is jam-packed with them, and there are many more to come. If you want to let this one slide, that's 100% your choice... but I hope you'll come back and read this thread in 3 and 6 and 9 months to pressure-test whether your SO has done more, or less, in that time to demonstrate that he is a Good Person and someone whose instincts always err on the side of making you feel good about yourself -- even when you disagree or he has different perspective/advice to offer. That he's as interested in what he can continue to learn from you as what he thinks he can teach you. Someone that views you as a true and equal and inspiring peer.

Fuck, I'm rambling, but maybe one of these phrases will resonate. For what it's worth, I think you're awesome, and I would love for you to help guide my hypothetical child in thinking about how to treat people. Start setting more boundaries if you think that's good for you -- just make sure they apply to and are respected by your SO at least as much as they do anyone else. Wishing you the best of luck.
posted by argonauta at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2015 [13 favorites]

As to how you should've handled it, in my opinion (even if Billy's brother wasn't dying):

- When your boyfriend proposed that you issue an Easter deadline, you should've thought about whether keeping Billy's stuff was really inconveniencing you enough that issuing a deadline was the best course of action. If so, great - telling Billy the deadline made sense. If not, you could've (a) refrained from issuing the deadline and told your boyfriend that this situation was between you and Billy and you were fine keeping his stuff, or (b) sent Billy a reminder about his stuff and asked when he might come get it, rather than issuing a deadline.

- When Billy arrived a week late for his bike, you should've given it to him (as you did).

- When your boyfriend got angry, you should've told him that the bike belonged to Billy, Billy came for the bike, and you didn't feel right enforcing a strict deadline for no real reason.

Also: if your boyfriend's goal here really was to teach you to enforce boundaries, he would've encouraged you to set a deadline for ALL of Billy's stuff, not just the bike. Perhaps he did want to teach you to enforce boundaries, but as a secondary goal (it seems pretty clear to me that his primary goal here was to get a free bike).
posted by sunflower16 at 2:30 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey sorry should have clarified, I gave Billy the Easter deadline at the end of February, so over one month's notice.
posted by thereemix at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2015

Can you clarify if your notice was only for the bike or for all his stuff?
posted by jeather at 2:44 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

If your SO wanted to help you develop better boundaries he shouldn't have picked a situation where he could profit from it. It puts you in a no-win situation and denies you of his support. It compromises his motives quite solidly.

If he was truly committed to helping you get better boundaries, he would've let you choose the situation, helped you define what was acceptable and what was not, and then been a sympathetic ear if you struggled.

Helping you build better boundaries does NOT mean choosing the situations in which you make a stand, nor does it mean defining the (un)acceptable outcomes for you. That's just him imposing his boundaries on you--the same thing he doesn't want other people to do to you. And when he's pushing you to make a decision that he benefits from he's no longer thinking of you, but of himself.
posted by lilac girl at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2015 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Just the bike and the drum set, as they take up the most room. But fuck if I know how to deal with getting rid of a drum set.

Honestly at this point I wish I hadn't set the deadline. I think I should have set a deadline with Billy to have a conversation about how to deal with the stuff (i.e. let's have a plan for your things by Easter), but he was anf is not equipped to mobilize fast enough to get two bulky items out of my house and it wasn't fair of me to ask him to. I let my SO strongarm me into the ultimatum. I feel pretty awful and pretty stupid for it now. :(
posted by thereemix at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

You've gotten a lot of answers here, so I don't know if I'm making the same point as someone else, but I did want to say that I think you began to get into an ethically questionable area when you issued Billy an ultimatum. An ultimatum takes a lot of free will away from someone else, because it backs them into a corner, doesn't give them a voice, and forces them to take action that they wouldn't necessarily have otherwise wanted to take. It's a very controlling thing to do to someone, and in my opinion that's unethical.

That's not to say that there's no time and place for ultimatums, because sometimes someone is so negatively affecting your life that in order to assert your own rights you have to try to control their behavior. Sometimes an ultimatum is the only way to bring a bad situation to a close. But you hadn't gotten anywhere near that point with Billy. Yeah, it was getting annoying to have his stuff there, so it was definitely time to do something, but I think the most respectful, ethical thing to do at that point would have been to simply try to get in contact with Billy and have a conversation about the situation. That would be the most obvious first step, I think. There was no reason to go straight for the jugular and start issuing threats. If he kept avoiding you, and kept refusing to help you come up with a solution, then yeah, it would have eventually come to the point where you would have had to issue an ultimatum. But unless there's something you're not telling us, I don't think you were there yet.

As far as giving the bike back goes, I think you did the right thing. The 'deadline' is irrelevant, because Billy never agreed to that. From what I can tell, the initial agreement was that you would hold onto his stuff 'until he got his life sorted', which could mean anything. If you weren't happy with that agreement anymore, and wanted to change it, then the first step would have been to contact Billy and try to hammer out a new agreement that would satisfy both of you. If he kept avoiding you, and kept thwarting your attempts to make a new agreement, then eventually issuing him a strict deadline would have been appropriate. But like I said before, I personally don't think you had gotten to that point yet, so abiding by the rules of your original agreement was the most appropriate action. Billy got his life sorted enough to get his bike back, so he got it, end of story.

EDIT: As far as the drum set goes, you probably won't be surprised when I say that you should call up Billy and ask to have a conversation about it. If he won't talk about it, or won't work with you to figure out what to do with it, then eventually you'll just have to take charge and do what you want with it. But I think first you need to give him a chance to decide what to do with it.
posted by sam_harms at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I feel pretty awful and pretty stupid for it now. :(
You are neither awful nor stupid :(

I think you are still mad at the wrong person here.
posted by kapers at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2015 [48 favorites]

Hey, I just wanted to remind you that you did good. You didn't let your boyfriend's pressure stop
You from giving back the bike. You did what your heart told you was the right thing. That's pretty strong behaviour.
So now you can go on being strong by telling the boyfriend that this subject is no longer up for discussion and that from now on you will handle Billy as you see fit.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2015 [9 favorites]

Your SO should have asked if he could buy Billy's stuff from him, or at least let him know and okay that he was going to take the bike, via actual communication and not an ultimatum delivered through you.

He is more upset about not getting Billy's bike for free than about that Billy's brother is dying of cancer and the instability in Billy's life. I think the appropriate response here would have been concern for Billy and whether there was anything the two of you could do to help out, or at least to not make this situation awkward for you. He doesn't sound like a supportive partner, and I would take this to be a major red flag.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:10 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your SO owes you an apology for pretty much all of his behavior regarding this.
posted by the bricabrac man at 3:14 PM on April 12, 2015 [26 favorites]

Your SO is definitely not right. At all. You need to tell them that, point blank, and move on.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you should show that you have good boundaries and excellent judgement by dumping this person who has no problem #! manipulating you, #2 bullying you and Billy, and #3 ultimately conniving to steal someone else's property.

No way this is out of character for your SO, because he had to think this out and push you into executing his plan. I believe you are not hip to how selfish and dishonest your SO is, but in no way will I believe that he's a good person after putting this much effort into being so dirty and dishonest. Nope. Nope. Nope.
posted by jbenben at 4:40 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I only skimmed the other replies because it seems pretty unanimous; you did the right thing and your SO was being unreasonable (I am being diplomatic and restrained here).

An old friend of mine was at a crossroads. She was suddenly single, jobless, homeless and didn't know what to do. she stayed with us until she decided to go spend some time with her mother who lives a 24hr flight away. I stored her stuff in our garage for the two years she was gone then for about six months after she got back while she sorted out new digs and job. She is so grateful but to me, it's no big deal. I hope we all have a friend we can count on when life gets too much for us. I hope Billy is okay.
posted by stellathon at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

It's hard to tell whether your SO is being protective or selfish, and it's equally hard to tell if Billy is a user who's taking advantage of the kindness of his friends or a down-on-his-luck guy who will eventually get it together to be responsible for his stuff. Probably both are a little of both. But as far as YOU go, you did great! You agreed with your SO's seemingly sensible recommendation to dispense with your responsibility for Billy's stuff, and then when Billy did his best to comply with the conditions you set, you gave him a little slack, because he's still your friend and you are pretty sure he's telling you the truth.

If this is some kind of new revelation that your SO is materialistic and selfish, I really think you'll be able to know that, but based on your follow ups it seeems more likely that SO's upsetness is mostly about feeling protective of you, and I bet you'll be able to talk this one out and move on.
posted by gubenuj at 5:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I feel pretty awful and pretty stupid for it now. :(

But--doesn't it seem like no matter how this works out you feel lousy? That doesn't seem right or fair. Is there no way to look at this in a way that doesn't result in you feeling crappy?
You are trying to be really considerate and thoughtful of everyone's feelings except your own. Feeling like in retrospect you'd maybe do something differently is a feature, not a bug.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:56 PM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

Oh no. Please don't feel bad. Everything's okay.
posted by bleep at 6:05 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yeah, to be most charitable to your SO, his heart was in the right place in poking you to do something about the lingering situation. But I think he allowed his excitement about getting the bike to make him not the most neutral advisor, you know? I'm sure he thought it was a good idea, but maybe he didn't quite look as hard for other solutions?

In any case, when Billy got his bike back, and out of your house (win/win, right?), that he was mad about that is kind of ah, not complimentary. Hopefully it was just momentary annoyance about finding out after going to some trouble and not who he really is. Everyone has selfish thoughts at times and feels ashamed of themselves for it. Does he?
posted by ctmf at 7:24 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your SO needs a good swift kick in the ass, and for his Mama to teach him about kindness and compassion.

You were very clearly taught about these values, and have done a marvelous job of showing them to Billy. You did nothing that you should feel bad about. You helped a friend in need. That is a good thing, no matter how hard your SO pouts.
posted by MissySedai at 10:00 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

My SO is now mad about this. He is saying that the drop dead date was Easter

If this was your boyfriend's actual wording about wanting to seize the personal property of someone whose brother is currently dying in palliative care, you need to break up with him ASAP for your personal safety. Holy shit.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:05 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: "Drop dead date" is common vernacular for "hard deadline, no exceptions" in the industry we both work in. But I appreciate where you are coming from moonlight.
posted by thereemix at 2:35 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

For me it sounds like your SO is using this situation to manipulate you into giving him a bike, and was caught being a total asshole, so he's trying to manipulate the situation into "teaching you a lesson" about boundaries. I remember the first time my sister "taught me a lesson" about money by stealing my money because I shouldn't just trust money lying around in my own bedroom because some well-meaning person might need to teach me a valuable lesson!

It's a total dick move full of selfishness and circular logic and the "boundaries lesson!" comes across as something a manipulative, lying, disingenuous person would do. Like it's just dick moves all around, it's pure DTMFA territory, this guy deserves to learn a hard lesson in boundaries by losing someone because he tried to guilt them into stealing someone's bike for HIS advantage, and then let the original owner take his own property back.

I have been in the situation where you can't contact the previous owner and even then would give them months of advance notice to get back to me
posted by aydeejones at 7:21 AM on April 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

"Drop dead date" is totally sterile biz-speak intended for hard and fast deadlines that people might otherwise not take seriously if it isn't framed with "THE WORLD STOPS ON THIS DATE, EVERYONE IS FIRED IF WE FAIL," and it has no place at all in a discussion of friendships that involves words like "cancer" and "ultimatum"
posted by aydeejones at 7:23 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also I think it's fair to say that if I were in my twenties and the situation were just right, I could see myself being the SO. I could see myself saying "you really are too accommodating and are being taken advantage of" and could see myself being somewhat possibly threatened by this bond that sort of feels like an "ex" who just leaves enormous chunks of his stuff at "your place."

So for as much "DTMFA" as I feel impulsively at the ripe old age of 34, I don't think your SO is necessarily a rotten dick to the core who deserves to be punished, but if his moral compass is salvageable, he will pull back his hand and sting if he's reminded of the fact that this just looks bad and manipulative, and that if he was really concerned about teaching you a lesson about boundaries, he should know what lines he himself is crossing, and that imposing an arbitrary deadline after which you transfer possession to someone else who happens to be your immediate SO is the worst sort of boundary. It's almost like an episode of Seinfeld -- what if you had given him the bike? I would think that your friend, who does come off as a flake (and every heavy flake I've run into has had a very hard life that wasn't in large part due to their own decisions ) would have the right to say "so, did you give your bike to your boyfriend? Because in that case it isn't really gone, and I'd really appreciate it if he could give it back."

Definitely your friend put you in an uncomfortable position but nobody should profit from it.
posted by aydeejones at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

In summary, I can relate to knowing all sorts of cool life lessons that other people should apply to their lives, but as soon as them applying that lesson somehow benefits me, and requires me to compromise the very principle myself
(boundaries) I have really just relegated myself to being a young pup who thinks he knows everything there is to know about being well-adjusted, healthy, and "grown-up" but I am full of shit. Naturally I never did "know everything" and still don't
posted by aydeejones at 7:36 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hey, I agree with emptythought.

I feel bad for Billy. But I also feel bad for you for having to store a bike and drumset for four years. And I bet your boyfriend felt bad for you too. Maybe even a little righteously indignant on your behalf.

Look, it's just plain old kind of shitty to beg favors off of friends for four years. I can easily understand your boyfriend walking into your apartment every day, seeing the damn drumset, and thinking: why is that still here? What gives? Yes, Billy has a hard life. I really get that. But some of it is his responsibility. It simply has to be. So he's culpable for some of this.

Where you went wrong was letting it go this far. Something should have happened two years ago. I also agree that giving the guy money for the stuff would have been the classiest way to deal with this, and easier logistically.

This was a bad end to an already bad situation. Your boyfriend was a shit about it and needs to apologize. However, essentially he is right that you needed to stop enabling Billy long ago. Four years is a longass time.
posted by quincunx at 8:16 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your boyfriend was a shit about it and needs to apologize. However, essentially he is right that you needed to stop enabling Billy long ago. Four years is a longass time.

He would have been right if he wanted to get rid of the bike (as in, we need the garage space for our car/boat/whatever). But he wanted to keep it for himself AKA he had his own motives re: the ultimatum. In my book, that cancels out him technically being "right".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

^Yup. If SO was all: As of Easter we give this stupid bike to the Salvation Army! I would have been way more on his side. Or even, "we sell this bike and use the proceeds to buy you (OP) something cool! And easy to store!"

But as it is? Nope.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:18 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

For the record, don't get trapped into trying to sell the drum kit for your friend. It will take up way more time than you want to spend trying to find a buyer, and will potentially result in your friend claiming that you didn't get a good enough price, etc. No good, very bad.

Instead, you should look up the laws in your area for "abandoned property". Give at least as much notice as required by the law (ignoring that you've already had this stuff for four years). Then tell your friend, "I can only keep your drum kit for n more days. You need to find a new home for it by [day] [month], or I will, on [day+1] [month], [donate it to Salvation Army/put it out on the curb with a first-come on Craigslist/sell it to someone who you already know wants it (and send friend the money)]." The key to taking anything skeevy out of this is to make sure the actions don't have any personal gain attached to them, you're just getting rid of the thing. The key to actually making it effective is making it clear that the drum kit will be g-o-n-e by the date you specify, so showing up a week late will not work. (Plan ahead, if you know you can only get rid of it on a Saturday then tell your friend to deal with it by the Friday before.)
posted by anaelith at 5:49 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ugh... About all this stuff about abandoned property laws I'm seeing in the comments...I don't know what's been going on in Billy's life for the past 4 years but right now his brother is dying, and dealing with the storage situation you have with him is not a priority. Not for him, not for you, not for your boyfriend. Should Billy have dealt with this stuff years ago? Probably, yeah. Can you guys wait at least until his brother is in the ground, and any time Billy spends reclaiming his bike or drum kit from you isn't taking away from the last time he's ever going to get to spend with his brother, or supporting his parents in this horrible time? He needs to be with his family right now. Not attending to your boyfriend's bizarre tantrum about wanting a bike. Not getting drawn into the manipulation and mind games your boyfriend is playing with you about 'boundaries'. Your bf needs to calm way the fuck down about this. You did the right thing not letting your boyfriend steal Billy's bike, and like a lot of posters I am concerned that he's making you feel like a bad person for that act of basic decency. But the kind of family emergency and bereavement Billy is facing right now means that the storage issue needs to be tabled until that emergency is over. Best of luck- you are being a good person and don't deserve the grief you've been getting for that from your partner.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

Honestly, I think the way you should have handled it is by telling your SO "you know what, you're being a jerk, and you have no right to be angry with me. In fact, I should be angry at YOU. In fact, I am now."

And another good way to try to "stop being a doormat", if that is indeed what your SO wants, is to tell your SO "I had the right to change my mind and I did, and you have no right to judge me."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I will put in a lone voice for the boyfriend's (temporary) annoyance or frustration. If he went out of his way to procure special transportation for the bike, I could definitely see him being annoyed by Billy's timing. I think you did the right thing handling the situation, and that Billy's family situation is an extenuating circumstance, but that Billy's general flakiness put everyone into a rather annoying/disruptive spot.
posted by samthemander at 11:16 PM on April 15, 2015

I suspect he may have been trying to help me be better about boundaries

You've now learned that just because someone claims that you are the owner of an object, and that you should give the object to them, does not mean that you own the object or that you are obligated to give it to them.

I think you've done a great job with boundaries here even if your boyfriend would have liked you to pick different ones that would have been more convenient for him.
posted by yohko at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Honestly, for me, having a SO storing a friend's stuff would have been a DTMFA type situation 4 months into it, let alone FOUR YEARS. How has there not been a relationship ending fight over this?

What he should have done is just sent a check for the value of the bike as soon as he started using it.
posted by sideshow at 3:07 PM on April 18, 2015

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