Selfish gifts

There’s an interesting event in Marian Keye’s latest book, The Brightest Star in the Sky (Michael Joseph, 2009), where a character, having earlier expressed a strong dislike of opera, is taken on a luxurious mystery day trip by her wealthy new boyfriend.

The destination turns out to be Glyndebourne, an English country manor that holds an opera festival each year.  The boyfriend wines and dines her, in front of a superb operatic performance – but the girlfriend is livid, and sulks furiously through the whole thing.  She’d told him that she hated opera and he’d gone and taken her to one!

Of course, he adored opera and was simply trying to help her appreciate it.  But ultimately his motives were selfish: if his girlfriend liked opera, she would agree to see them and they could go out to opera on a regular basis….which was something he wanted.

Selfish gifts like this – they look kind and generous, but secretly have selfish motives – are to be avoided.  I know I’ve done it – invited someone to a restaurant to celebrate their birthday, but made sure it was held at a restaurant I actually wanted to go to – that sort of thing.

Just don’t make the opera mistake.

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