AITA for Wanting to Keep an Expensive Birthday Gift?

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I never thought that my desire to keep an expensive birthday gift would lead to such a moral dilemma. It all started when my 30th birthday was approaching.

My family, always enthusiastic about birthdays, decided to throw a surprise party for me. Little did I know, this celebration would become the epicenter of an ethical debate that still lingers in my mind.

The Giver

My older sister, Emma, was always known for her grand gestures. She had a knack for picking out the perfect gifts, and she took pride in her thoughtfulness.

This time, she truly outdid herself. She had recently landed a high-paying job as a successful investment banker, and she decided to surprise me with an extravagant present.

The Gift

On my birthday, as I walked into the beautifully decorated living room, I was overwhelmed by the sight of a brand-new, shiny sports car. I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was a car I had only ever dreamt of owning.

Emma was grinning from ear to ear as she handed me the keys. The room was filled with gasps of astonishment and claps of approval.

The Situation

While I was genuinely grateful for Emma’s generous gesture, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this gift came with an enormous moral weight.

Here’s why I’ve been grappling with the question, “Am I the Asshole for wanting to keep this expensive birthday gift?”

Financial Disparity

Emma had clearly spent a small fortune on the car, and I was well aware of the financial disparity between us. I had chosen a more modest career in teaching, while Emma’s job allowed her to live a life of luxury.

The thought of accepting such an extravagant gift made me uncomfortable because it seemed to highlight the stark contrast in our financial situations.


I had always prided myself on my independence and self-sufficiency. Owning an expensive gift like this car, something I could never afford on my own, felt like it might compromise my sense of self-reliance. I didn’t want to be indebted to my sister or anyone else.


On one hand, I didn’t want to hurt my sister’s feelings. She genuinely seemed thrilled to give me this gift, and I knew it meant a lot to her.

However, on the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder if this extravagant gesture came with strings attached.

Did accepting the gift mean that I would be expected to return the favor in some grand, perhaps financially impossible, way?


The guilt that gnawed at me was not just about the financial aspects but also about the environmental impact.

Owning a sports car came with a hefty carbon footprint, something I had always been conscious of.

The thought of contributing to climate change through such an extravagant gift was deeply unsettling.

Peer Pressure

As friends and family weighed in on the situation, the lines between what I wanted and what I felt pressured to do became increasingly blurred.

Some thought I should absolutely keep the car, while others believed it was impractical and that I should return it. The external pressure only added to the complexity of the situation.

Am I the Asshole?

Now, reflecting on this situation, I’m left wondering if I was in the wrong for wanting to keep the expensive birthday gift. I can see it from both sides:

Arguments for Keeping the Gift

  • Gratitude: Emma gave me this gift out of love and generosity, and rejecting it might hurt her feelings. Keeping the car could show appreciation for her thoughtfulness.
  • Enjoyment: It’s a luxurious sports car, and I’ve always dreamed of owning one. Accepting it would allow me to experience something I never thought possible.
  • Family Bond: By keeping the gift, I might strengthen the bond with my sister and create lasting memories tied to the car.

Arguments for Returning the Gift

  • Financial Disparity: Accepting such an extravagant gift might accentuate the financial gap between my sister and me, making me uncomfortable.
  • Independence: I risk compromising my sense of self-sufficiency by owning a gift I could never afford on my own.
  • Environmental Impact: The car comes with an environmental cost, and owning it might go against my values of sustainability.
  • Expectations: Keeping the gift might set unrealistic expectations for future gift-giving or create a sense of obligation to reciprocate in a way that I cannot afford.

As I stand at this moral crossroads, I can’t help but ask: “Am I the asshole for wanting to keep this expensive birthday gift?”

The answer is not straightforward, as it depends on one’s perspective and values. So, I turn to you for your opinions and insights on this complex ethical dilemma.

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