you're too kind. no really.
February 11, 2017 7:43 AM   Subscribe

A friend has started giving me large anonymous cash gifts. I don't know who it is or why they're doing it. I appreciate the gesture but I don't know how to deal. Help?

Just before Christmas I suddenly received a significant amount of money via PayPal -- talking a few hundred £ -- from an anonymous donor. They signed off with a note saying I could spend it however I wanted and not to worry.

Some necessary background: I have some personal issues about receiving gifts, especially money. I'm currently financially stable (although paying off a decent amount of debt from my student days and being unemployed for most of last year). I grew up in a poor family, so cash gifts have always been rare and special. I'm a proud person who enjoys working hard for what I need and taking care of people when I can, and I'm not used to being on the receiving end of generosity. It usually makes me feel guilty and miserable that I don't have anything to offer in kind.

So when I received this gift I went from 0 to Anxiety in about 60 seconds. I was convinced it was a scam of some kind and wrote a message on social media asking for the person to come forward so I could thank them and to give me peace of mind. I got another email from them within a few hours saying that I didn't need to worry so much and that they gave it with no expectations of thanks, because they consider me to be a good person who deserves nice things. So I concluded that it was a friend who knows me personally, since they obviously saw my social media panic and wanted to reassure me.

I swallowed my pride and used the money to buy gifts for my family, assuming that it was a one-off because someone was feeling generous at Christmas.

However, today I logged in to see another message and another cash gift -- about half as much as last time -- and another note saying not to worry. Now I'm back to square one -- uncomfortable, full of cycling guilt, and stuck with the thought that one of my trusted friends is using me as a charity donation tin.

How can I deal with this gracefully? How can I refuse their kindness without destroying our friendship and making things even more awkward? I'm tempted to just ignore it and put it in a savings account, but I also don't want to become reliant on these random acts of generosity. I could donate it to an actual charity but at the same time this cash is a useful buffer while I get back on my feet. Ugh.

Any thoughts/ideas welcome.
posted by fight or flight to Human Relations (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't know who it is, I'm not sure how the friendship would be "destroyed" by a refusal. If you can't find a way for PayPal to return the deposit, withdraw the money and close your PayPal account.
posted by Karaage at 7:55 AM on February 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Wait, you know specifically who it is now? Or not?

Pay down your student debt, say you used the money for that, and be happy someone helped. Sometimes people have more than they need, see someone who can use it, and it makes them happy to be able to help. Pay down your student debt.
posted by cashman at 7:55 AM on February 11, 2017 [18 favorites]

There does not seem to be any attempt to coerce or control you here, which is good. Pay down your debts, or donate it.
posted by coberh at 8:00 AM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

I think it's absolutely fair for you to set a boundary here. I suggest emailing this person (I assume you have a sock address for them, since they emailed you but you don't know who they are) and saying you prefer not to receive cash gifts. It would be graceful to thank them for thinking of you, and to say that you appreciate the thought and the kindness but that cash gifts make you uncomfortable and so you are asking them to please not do this again. Do whatever is most useful with the cash you already received - it is, after all, a gift, and I do think it would be harsh to just return it.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:01 AM on February 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth?
posted by james33 at 8:01 AM on February 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think all you need to send money via PayPal is the recipient's email address, so could it have been a typo and thus intended for someone else? If you're completely mystified, and you haven't been talking about financial troubles on social media, I would refuse it unless you can verify that it's for you.
posted by AFABulous at 8:02 AM on February 11, 2017

Never mind, I see the person follows you on social media. In that case I would keep it.
posted by AFABulous at 8:02 AM on February 11, 2017

Have you fully discussed with yourself WHY you are uncomfortable receiving gifts? You might find that the underlying reason is something that, when you press yourself, you recognize that you should try to change your mind about. (Simple example: "I don't deserve it" or "Anybody who gives me something must be secretly thinking they're better than me.") I mean, other things being equal, it is nice to have free money appear! And, in this instance, it is also good evidence that somebody who knows you thinks highly of you - which is also nice. You probably have a friend who has more money than people realize, and who feels that it is right to share some of that without seeking thanks. That's nice too. So perhaps see if you can tell yourself with some force that this is, all around, a lovely thing.
posted by sheldman at 8:07 AM on February 11, 2017 [38 favorites]

I assume you have some method of contacting them. If not, I'd just put this on social media. Set a boundary at this point. "I have donated the gift you sent me to X charity. Please do not send me any more gifts as it makes me very uncomfortable. You are welcome to donate to X charity instead." If they persist past the boundary, then I think it's okay to take more drastic steps. At this point, you have concerns and anxiety but it may not be clear to others just how much discomfort this is causing you.

How can I refuse their kindness without destroying our friendship and making things even more awkward?

Etiquette surrounding gifts is that a gift is, optimally, supposed to be something nice for the receiver. If this gift is not something nice for you, then it's not a good gift. If you let the sender know that and it destroys our friendship then they're being rude and/or unpleasant about this. Sometimes dealing with anxiety involves getting a grip on social norms and realizing that other people (who may also not totally have a grip on them) are working outside of them, that is sort of on them, not on you to manage.

There are a lot of people who don't understand that gifts, especially anonymous ones, can be seen as not just not necessary but actively creepy and scary (let's all recall this thread). Give them the benefit of the doubt, once, that they are not clued in to this but once you've made it clear its totally okay to make it stop, issue a refund, and be done with it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:14 AM on February 11, 2017 [24 favorites]

Sooner or later someone you know is really going to need it. If they are like you, your explanation of where the money came from will probably be enough to get them to accept.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:42 AM on February 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I get that you have a thing about gifts, and that receiving a random cash gift is stressful for you. But consider the following:

- You're doing fine financially right now, although don't have a huge cushion.
- You have a friend who thinks you're pretty great.
- That friend knows you were out of work and probably guesses you might not have a huge cushion.
- That friend has a big cushion right now and wants to share the wealth.
- You also like to take care of people, so you can understand this friend's motivation: it feels good to be generous! It feels good when our friends and loved ones are happy!

"stuck with the thought that one of my trusted friends is using me as a charity donation tin"

That's a pretty awful way to frame this. It's super problematic for people who really depend on charity, and also just not a nice way to think of your kind friend who wanted to do something nice for you! This way of looking at things takes two nice, innocent people (you and your friend) and puts you both in a dismissive sad place.

Someone gave you an anonymous gift. You're under no obligation whatsoever. But your friend was trying to be kind. You entitled to return the gift if you want, but it'll leave you both a bit sad. Instead, use this money to buy happiness! Using it to make yourself happy will also make your friend happy. You might:
- Donate the money to a cause you support!
- Give it to another friend who could use it!
- Take someone out to supper!
- Pay down debt!
- Put it in a savings account!
- Buy a parakeet!

By the way you frame this, you choose whether this money makes you, and by extension your friend, happy or hurt. Go with happy!
posted by MangoNews at 8:51 AM on February 11, 2017 [37 favorites]

So I think you have the right to set whatever boundaries you want, and people should respect them, especially people you care about.

That doesn't mean all the boundaries you set will be healthy.

I think there can be healthy reasons to be really uncomfortable with this situation and want it to stop, but what you've described here seems more like a reflexive defensive reaction that comes from a place of fear, shame, and past traumas.

I think it might be worth sitting with and working through these feelings. That seems to be more important than dealing with the gift situation, and in fact you can table the idea of deciding what to do about it (if anything) until you've worked through all the complicated and obviously strong feelings you have about it, because odds are those feelings aren't limited to instances of cash gifts. Depending on your background, it can be very difficult to enjoy good things or good fortune, and if you don't know how to enjoy good fortune because you simply don't trust it, you're likely to sabotage it in some way. It's possible to treat this gift as an opportunity to deal with your learned reactions to good fortune, sort of like a practice round.

Anyway, if I were you, that would be my priority.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:54 AM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

Just a thought, but maybe the person could be someone who wronged you in the past and is trying to make amends; maybe they took advantage of you and are trying to ease their conscience?

Paying down your debt is a great way to spend it but if you are uncomfortable or if you really don't need the money, consider "paying it forward" and becoming an anonymous donor to someone you know who is working really hard and could use a little extra money for themselves.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:58 AM on February 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nothing wrong with putting it in a bank account and keeping it there until you see an opportunity in the future to do a similar kindness for another person.
posted by megatherium at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Wow. I come from this from a very different angle. I do not have issues receiving gifts but this would totally freak me out. Like who is this person, why are they giving me money, what are they getting from it, how closely are they following me on social media, is this some weird power trip? Kind of like the anonymous banjo gift. I would post on social media ,"Thanks but no more anonymous gifts, please. I have donated this one to charity and won't accept any others." I wouldn't even specify the charity, and I would shut down that specific PayPal account.

There's nothing wrong with you. Large anonymous cash gifts to a random person not clearly in need plus anonymous follow-up are kind of a breech of social norms!
posted by whitewall at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2017 [26 favorites]

Yeah, I wouldn't try to talk myself out of being freaked by this. I'm surprised so many people are all 'shrug, whatever' about it. If it wasn't anonymous then it might be fine, but if it was me, I'd think - is this person, whoever they are, trying to get me in their debt for some reason? Do they have a crush on me? Did they do something bad to me that I don't even know about? It's perfectly likely none of those things are true, but since it's anonymous, you can't know. Of course it makes you uncomfortable.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

One is not actually obligated to accept a gift gracefully or at all. Anonymous gifts of cash? No way! I imagine one of your friends is trying to be kind but anonymous person's imagined intention does not trump your actual comfort and well-being. If you have problems accepting gifts, that's an issue to work on when you get gifts from people who are not anonymous. In my experience, giving a gift can be a form of control as well as or instead of an act of generosity. So I would nope right out of this. Don't feel bad about the money gift you've put to good use but do pull the plug on this operation now. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah I have no issues accepting gifts but this would freak me out. Personally I wouldn't touch this money until I at least found out who it was from. Until then you don't have to worry about guilt or anxiety. I think you're getting ahead of yourself worrying about ruining a friendship that you can't even identify.
posted by bleep at 10:48 AM on February 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would use it to pay down the debt; drop them a note saying "what a nice gesture but please no more", and close the paypal account, since there is a clearly a disconnect between what this person wants (which could be anything from "to get you in their debt" to "to do something nice for a person they admire") and what you want (not to get mysterious gifts.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2017

Totally understandable that this is making you uncomfortable, but I would also say there is a real social consequence of not accepting this gift in the spirit in which it was given. I'm not saying this to increase your anxiety about it, but to say that there is human on the other side of this gift. They... well honestly, they love you. They gave, sought no credit or thanks or any conditions, because they love you. Rejecting their gift... is inevitably and unavoidably going to be received as a rejection of their love.

You're free to reject their love, as you are with anyone's. It would just make me feel terrible about our friendship, if I was the giver.

Also, if you do choose that route, maybe don't announce your rejection via social media, because your other friends, who perhaps also need money desperately but don't have that same generous individual in their lives, may feel... bitter. That you got so much and that you're so "ungrateful."
posted by danny the boy at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

And honestly it sounds like you want to keep this money for all the reasons the giver (presumably) gave it to you... you need it. It would help--and the only reason this is an issue is your own pride.

So maybe a way to look at this is that this isn't free money; you earn it by working on your own humility.
posted by danny the boy at 11:02 AM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, +1 to the idea that this is creepy. I read this and immediately thought "stalker". The whole "you don't need to worry so much, you're a nice person who deserves nice things" thing sounds... potentially off to me. Like, controlling or something. And patronizing.

I am a pretty cynical, suspicious person though. But do be careful.
posted by imalaowai at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

I do this. The reason to do it anonymously is that...I get frustrated when the people around me are frustrated by life. I'm not exactly rich either, but by almost any standard, I'm unencumbered. No kids, no financial constraints for reasonable things, freelance, healthy, single. I wake up in the morning and much of my frustration in life are that the people around me aren't that way. I can fly to Bali tomorrow and stay as long as I want and it affects nothing. I offer to pay for a friend's ticket and then they think I'm trying to get something out of them, no, I'm just saying why not let's go to Bali. Or they tell their friends, and then I'm the guy who buys people tickets to Bali, which I also don't want. I don't need that to be general knowledge, thanks. I just wanted someone to go to Bali with me, and now it's a whole mess of awkward. I picked up that lesson about a week after being able to afford it.

With my anonymous gives it's more like, "Dude, you JUST said you need that hardware to do project but you can't afford it, and I think that project would be super cool if you could do project, but the subject of that project is once a year and by next year I don't know if you'll still be interested, and I only met you last week." Or "Your cat is peeing on your couch, you can't afford to neuter it, it stinks, and you spent last Saturday cleaning that instead of at band rehearsal for the third week in a row. HERE, putz." It's a much more elegant solution than face-to-face offers in some cases. There's an art to it though, and one should make the hint more obvious than "you deserve nice things".

I'm not the only person I know who does this. People have done this to me in the past. While I am with a lot of the commenters that this could veer into the creepy or coercive real quick, maybe it's a friend trying to give you a nudge that you should go do that thing you've currently ruled out as impossible or unworkable. Of course, I wouldn't take it personally if an anonymous gift like that didn't go as planned, because that's the boundary, and I don't get to make certain demands, which is why I offered anonymously in the first place. I tried, okay. And if it does work, good. And a good portion of the time it does.

Is there a Big Life Improvement you've been talking about a lot lately? And/or do you know creepy and relatively well-heeled people who have attempted to creep on you in other ways? If not the former, well, then yeah, we're in creepy territory, and you're within your friend rights to donate, deactivate account, and be done with it, and I say that as someone who stepped over that line a few times. I got over it, because it's a gift, and it obligates you to nothing.
posted by saysthis at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2017 [20 favorites]

I would perhaps do this:

Use most of the cash to pay down your debt (or whatever other usage feels right).

Keep some of the cash aside from the debt payment, and use that portion in a way that shares the generosity forward (treat a struggling friend, make a donation to a grassroots cause, etc).

Send a private (not social media!!) PayPal note back, saying

"Thank you so much for this generous gift. I appreciate it and after some debate I decided to use it in a way that makes my life better; thank you. I do need to let you know that the anonymity of this gesture has caused me anxiety. Would you be kind enough to hear me when I ask you to not send gifts to me in this way? Thank you, both for the gestures, and for understanding their unintended effect. I appreciate your kindness and I will continue to pay it forward."

This way:

You get this money to improve your life, but hopefully you get no more anonymous money.
You are kind to the person and show gratitude.
You are clear about your boundary in an honest and dignified way.
You don't generate any bitterness or jealousy from other friends on social media.
You make another person's life better too, and spread kindness and resources.
posted by spraypaint at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2017 [16 favorites]

Refusing a Payment by Sending It Back

Log in to your PayPal account.

Click “History,” located below the Request Money section. You’ll be taken to a page detailing the history of your PayPal transactions.

Scroll down to the transaction for which you wish to refund the payment. Click “Details” to reveal a page of information pertaining to the transaction.

Click “Issue a Refund.” You’ll be taken to a confirmation page, detailing the name of the sender, the sending party’s email address, the transaction ID and the amount of the refund. Make sure the provided information is correct.

Scroll down to the “Invoice Number” pane. If there’s an invoice number associated with the transaction, click on the pane to enable the typing cursor and use your keyboard to enter the number.

Click on the “Note to Buyer” pane and type a brief explanation as to why his or her payment isn’t being accepted.

Click the “Continue” button to issue the refund.
posted by WCityMike at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2017 [12 favorites]

This is some real Abel Magwich shit here.

If you're really troubled by this, I could give you my PayPal account and you could forward it to me. (This is a joke; I don't even have a PayPal account anymore, to the point where when I registered for MeFi a few years ago, I had to use the Stripe option.)

Seriously, though, it sounds like the gifts are related to the hard times you fell on recently, so I'd suggest using it to invest in yourself. Get some training or certifications, something like that to make yourself more able to withstand bad breaks in the future. That way, this person won't have to keep giving you money.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:42 PM on February 11, 2017

My first thought was that your anonymous gifter was in a manic /hypo manic upcycle and they may come to regret this decision, or their family might.

Just something to consider.
posted by taff at 12:51 PM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of folks think anonymous gifts are a way to reduce awkwardness - they don't have to say "I inherited a million bucks and feel guilty having that much and you not being able to fix your car" and it doesn't harm your specific friendship with a potentially toxic power imbalance.

If you're uncomfortable with it, you do have the right to say so though. Just worth thinking about why and whether that's still true if your friend also come to the money as a windfall, regardless of who it was, etc.
posted by Lady Li at 12:56 PM on February 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd send a message asking who they are and try to talk to them about it directly. If it turned out to be just a friend giving because they felt like it, I'd not be inclined to spoil the pleasure they got from giving, so I wouldn't ask in an accusing way, just, "This was so generous of you! Who are you anyway?" And then when they tell you, or even if they don't, you can thank them on the basis it was a nice, one (one and a half?) time thing and that you will be trying to pay it forward.
posted by BibiRose at 12:58 PM on February 11, 2017

this would creep me the fuck out and more importantly, anyone close enough to me to do something like this would already know that this shit would creep me the fuck out, and would thus not be responsible for it. so for me personally it would not be a big deal to say on social media that someone had been doing this and it was freaking me out badly and i'd like it to stop.

i would be doubly creeped out if they saw my comments online about not liking it and their response to that was to do it again.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:42 PM on February 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

like, yikes, the fact that they saw your public statement of anxiety and decided to MAKE IT HAPPEN AGAIN is so uncomfortably outside common understandings of social boundaries.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:47 PM on February 11, 2017 [14 favorites]

I know a person who has come into a lot of money (think lottery or giant inheritance). They don't want others to know and stay within their previous lifestyle habits, so it's not obvious. They give large gifts to family, friends, charities, and strangers in need, but they do it anonymously so that they can give without it changing relationship dynamics and also to prevent unsolicited requests for money. In cases of large amounts like paying for college for the children of friends/family, they used a lawyer to be the intermediary, but for smaller amounts, they employ tactics like what you're describing.
posted by quince at 5:00 PM on February 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Being given a gift creates no debt unless it's given in the right context - a relationship, for example; since you don't know the other person, there is no debt or obligation.

I would love to receive this. I've gone through a Voyager-esque Year of Hell and it would mean a lot for someone to take the pressure off without giving the gift with their name on it and creating the obligation in return. A relative recently paid for some very expensive life-saving medication and immediately lectured me for several hours on how I should rearrange my life. Your friend isn't doing that. That's loving kindness in the best way.

If you do find it too weird to bear it, donate it to charity. Thank them on social media for the opportunity to do so, as you haven't been able to give as much as you want because you've been in a hard place. They may take a hint and stop, or they may think, wow, fantastic, she can do good with my gift! and keep going.

But try to frame this with the benefit of the doubt. No sane observer would tell you you're indebted to an anonymous donor. Enjoy a small kindness.
posted by Nyx at 7:31 PM on February 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's possible that this person is deliberately trying to make you feel uncomfortable or is biding their time until they can reveal themselves and guilt trip you/call in favours/lord it over you or whatever.

But it's also possible that someone has a bit of spare cash, knows you've had a hard time lately and wants to help you in a way that *doesn't* create some weird obligation and this is the way they've chosen. This seems more likely to me, though of course I don't know your friend group.

How can I deal with this gracefully?
It would be a kindness to the person who's trying to do a nice thing to accept the gift rather than returning it or questioning their motivations. Imagine if you were in the position to do this for someone one day. How would you want your giftee to respond?

So this time: accept the gift, thank the giver and make it clear that you will not be accepting any further gifts of this type.
posted by pianissimo at 8:11 PM on February 11, 2017

From an anonymous commenter:
There's nothing wrong with you. Large anonymous cash gifts to a random person not clearly in need plus anonymous follow-up are kind of a breech of social norms!

I am an anonymous giver, although I am not your anonymous giver!

I give anonymously for personal, somewhat idiosyncratic religious reasons (ie, not everyone in my religion interprets the textual references to this issue as requiring anonymity). It is usually in a more anonymous-friendly way, like through a GoFundMe or similar. Honestly, the only reason I don't give in the way this person gave to you is because I read another AskMe question from someone who found it similarly unsettling. I come from a background that emphasizes giving without getting credit, and it would never occur to me that it would scare someone. Totally baffles me, to be honest. Obviously, now that I know, I'm more sensitive, and I don't know why your giver did this, but I wanted to give you another perspective on why someone might be anonymous. It might just be something more common in their family or cultural background.

Other thoughts from an anonymous giver, not very well-ordered and mostly to give you more perspectives as you decide how you feel and what you want to do:
-Another reason I give anonymously is so I cannot control the other person's reaction to the gift or make things About Me. The recipient doesn't need to perform gratitude or give me an accounting of what they spent or why. In this case, the person didn't tell you their motives and you are uncomfortable, so now they have to deal with the fact that you are NOT glowing with the light of gratitude and are in fact stressed out and anxious. Oh well, that's what happens sometimes.

-You are allowed to set boundaries in your life. You can return this money, give it to charity, save it, spend it on a trip to Dubai, whatever. Giving anonymously means that if this person ever comes to you expecting something, you can say cooly, "How odd- my great-auntie Clarabelle told me she gave me that money and that I should spend it on a resort in Bali." Guess what, being anonymous meant is was not About Them and now they have to deal. You have nothing to feel guilty or obligated about.

-One of my biggest criteria for giving is not really visible/obvious to others and is related to my personal political beliefs. I don't view giving as charity but as a commitment to justice and equality. One of the reasons I give sometimes is BECAUSE I know how hard someone works and it is a way of addressing, in a small way, the unjust circumstances outside of their control. Like, if I were your anonymous giver, I would think, "Well, why the fuck should my friend have debt from bettering themselves through education? Literally just because their parents happened to have less money than my parents? That's not right."

-I don't really think of giving this way as a one-way stream. It's circular. There are resources other than money, so you might have done something meaningful for this person that you didn't notice . Maybe you loaned them something small, or remembered their favorite food, or changed your plans to something that would make them more comfortable, and because of THEIR background, that was as meaningful and rare to them as a cash gift is to you. Or maybe like someone else said, they were a jerk to you once and are trying to ham-fistedly atone. Maybe they got a gift like this at a similar time in their life and were instructed to pay it forward instead of back, and by giving you this money they feel they have honored their mentor or elderly relative and fulfilled an obligation to that person. Relatedly:

-Sometimes it is a kindness to let someone help you, or to let them THINK they've helped you. It might be kind to let this person believe you are glowing with the light of gratitude. They might think they don't have anything to offer except money, or be assuaging their guilt about some bizarre thing that has nothing to do with you. But I genuinely mean what I said above- you have the right to react however you feel comfortable reacting, and you can tell them to go jump in a lake.

-Sometimes when people don't want money for themselves, I give to a charity that relates somehow to the reason I want to give to them. Maybe you could post on your social media something like, "Hi anonymous person who sent me a gift on DATE and DATE- that was kind but I really don't need more. The most meaningful thing you could for me would be send any more gifts to this charity that's important to me." Maybe this person can learn to take direction.

Like I said, those weren't very well-ordered, but I thought it might help you as you decide how to react. I 100% do mean it when I say it is totally fine to return this money if that's what is comfortable/right for you. This person is an adult and they are capable of managing their own emotions around this idiosyncratic thing they did.
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on February 12, 2017 [10 favorites]

I would 100% send this back with a note that says stop doing this, and if it ever happens again I will continue sending it back. I would say that it makes me feel frightened and controlled, and that I do not want to be friends with anyone who can't respect that boundary, so if the giver can't respect it, they should stop being my friend. This would be a deal breaker for me in any friendship. It would drive me crazy and ramp my anxiety all the way up. I completely get why this feels controlling and weird and maybe even a little scary. That's how I'd feel too.

To all you anonymous givers out there who claim you do it because you don't want it to be about you: bullshit. Doing it anonymously makes it all about you and the drama of who you are and what you're doing. You're either not considering anyone else's feelings, or you're intentionally creating an overdramatic situation that you secretly get to star in. Stop doing this. People who are okay with getting the gift will also be okay if you just offer. People like me who are not okay with it need to have the right to refuse, and you don't get to make that decision for us. Stop it.
posted by decathecting at 12:37 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I affirm your right to make the choice that is right for you and your own situation, goals and preferences. You feel the way you feel and that is neither right nor wrong; it is true for you.

Whatever you decide to do, I agree there is space to use this as a learning experience for your personal growth.

For example: I'm tempted to just ignore it and put it in a savings account, but I also don't want to become reliant on these random acts of generosity.

If you trust yourself, if you are confident in your ability to manage your money and live in a way that you're satisfied with, it's possible you won't have to be afraid of becoming reliant in a way you feel uncomfortable with. You can decide whether you become reliant. Trust that you will be able to change course if that happens.

Perhaps set some boundary markers and practices to help assess your reliance and remind yourself of how you'd like to proceed. For example: Don't make plans for the future that rely on getting more financial gifts. Live as though you won't see more gifts! Cultivate a practice of gratitude when you receive and spend the money. Think of it as a windfall, a piece of one-time good fortune; and remind yourself of this whenever you think of it, so it becomes a reflex. Consider it more like a work bonus or some other source that inspires fewer fraught feelings. Engage in an open-hand approach to life more generally, able to take things as they come and bid farewell as they go.

Consider whether you find yourself reliant on other things, and whether that's played a role in why you assume or fear you will become reliant on random financial gifts.

I also think the fact of what you do with it will not change some of the things you worry about -- like someone viewing you as a charity donation bin. If that is indeed the case, there's nothing you can do to change it. They already think the way they think about you. Perhaps consider whether your motivation is to change someone else's viewpoint when it is not really yours to change. Figure out what you can control, what's in your sphere, and let go of the rest. (Unless you feel unsafe. Then do what you need to feel safe and assert control over your wellbeing and safety.)

(Recognizing you and I have different perspectives here, I also add my voice to the "I would accept it" side. I get to decide what and whom I'm beholden to. I can choose not to be beholden to someone. I can choose whether to see myself as a charity or as someone independent and awesome who happens to have more money with which to be awesome. This is a gift -- once a gift is given, the giver's part is over; the recipient gets to decide what happens with it. Unless I had a creepy or boundary-pushing friend who I actually thought may try to use this to do something unkind down the road, I would accept it, tell myself that I'm not a charity bin, and enjoy it.)
posted by ramenopres at 9:26 PM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd be so hurt if someone I did something so generous for looked for all sorts of creepy reasons I could have had for going out of my way to give a gift to, and to give it anonymously so that our friendship wouldn't be tainted with weird charity vibes. So very hurt.

How could this possibly be seen as weird, manipulative, boundary violating, or anything else negative? It's so incredibly thoughtful and kind. There's no lecture about how to change your life, no desire to be appreciated in person, just a straight-up gift with a nice note attached saying "You deserve this."

Please, deserve it by seeing it for the loving gift that it is.
posted by Capri at 11:37 PM on February 15, 2017

I'd be so hurt if someone I did something so generous for looked for all sorts of creepy reasons I could have had for going out of my way to give a gift to, and to give it anonymously so that our friendship wouldn't be tainted with weird charity vibes. So very hurt.

From this thread, it's clear that for a variety of completely legitimate reasons, some people ARE freaked out by this.

If it's anonymous, they cannot possibly know that it isn't a stalker or something. Remember the banjo question? That guy wanted to send an anonymous gift to a woman he was infatuated with who had already turned him down. If you refuse to disclose who you are when sending a gift, I can't assume you AREN'T a Creepy Banjo-Sender.

If it hurts your feelings to have people assume you're doing something you aren't really doing with a donation like this, the responsibility is 100% on you to admit who you actually are and assuage their fears, rather than being offended that they're scared.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:54 AM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

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