If you had a chance to conquer your biggest fear, but on someone else's terms, would you take it? Here we have the story of a boyfriend buying a skydiving adventure for his girlfriend, who has a crippling fear of heights and doesn't want to go. The gift was supposed to be a surprise, and OP, the girlfriend, doesn't want to go. What should she do?
Below is nayahs's predicament, and Reddit's advice on how to handle it.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Okay, I really need help here.
My birthday is in two days and my boyfriend of six months, Alex*, has been talking about his surprise present for a while. He's really excited and can't wait to give it to me. He knows I love animals, so I thought he'd take me to the zoo or something like that. I'm not a big birthday person, so I just wanted something small and thoughtful.
Today my best friend Sara*, who is also friends with Alex, let it slip that she thinks his present is a really bad idea. I asked her why, since I didn't know what it was, and she asked tentatively if I was afraid of heights.
I have a phobia of heights. I have ever since I was a child. When I am in open spaces with fear of falling I have anxiety attacks and cry. When I tried cliff jumping (off an objectively small cliff) I cried and had to be carried back down. I can't even climb trees. I've been like this since I was a child. Alex knows this, but I haven't talked about it to him in very much depth, just in passing, and he thinks it's sort of cute and that he wants to help me get over it. I don't think he realizes how bad my fear is.
I don't know what to do. I know he's spent lots of money, especially as a student, on getting this present. I think it be an amazing present for someone else other than me. The thought of it is making me sweat. Please help.
TL;DR: My boyfriend has decided to surprise me with my worst fear.
*Not their real names.
EDIT: Holy sh*t, thank you guys for all your advice. My birthday is tomorrow. I will be posting an update.
There are better ways to conquer fear.Giphy
Yikes, OP. Ok first I would see if you could get Sara to convey to him just how crippling your fear is. If he isn't going to listen to her... Idk, it really sucks but you might have to tell him you know. Phrase like you know he doesn't get how truly afraid you are and that it's sweet that he wants to help you get past it, but this is not the way to go about it. See if he can get his money back, otherwise suggest he takes one of his friends who can cover half the cost so it's not as bad for him. I'm really sorry OP, I hope this gets figured out! And happy birthday!
This probably wasn't the best gift idea - tell him.Giphy
If my husband surprised me with skydiving my response would be "Hey, take someone else and have fun!" I sure as hell wouldn't go.
I'm not even afraid of heights, as in, I'll climb a mountain or look off a cliff or look off the edge of a tall building, but I sure as hell don't want to be plummeting to the ground from an airplane.
I don't know why he knew you were afraid of heights and his idea of helping you get over it AND his idea of an appropriate GIFT to you is skydiving. He could have helped you get over it in a different way by say taking you to the grand canyon to look over the cliffs or something but he also didn't have to make it out like it's a present to you if he KNOWS it's something you wouldn't like.
This post reminds me of the woman who planned a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend who had extreme social anxiety. Like oh hey surprise, I got you something I knew you would hate.
Stupid and inconsiderate.
Even though the relationship is new - you don't have to go.Giphy
Tell him the truth... and don't go. Don't be ashamed of or apologize for your phobia. If you had a crippling peanut allergy no one would expect you to go to the peanut-butter factory tour. As someone with a fear of heights, you certainly have a free pass to not go frickin' skydiving when climbing up a tree alone makes you break down. Your boyfriend should have known that there was a good chance someone wouldn't randomly be willing to go skydiving, phobia or not.
If he wants to give you help getting over your phobia, it should be with a trained therapist. Jumping out of the plane could give you PTSD or something don't do it.
Give him a chance to either invite someone else or get his money back.Giphy
The amount of money one spent on an unwelcome gift doesn't mean that the recipient has to accept it. Your BF may have bought a $50000 live rhinoceros on a leash, and tried to give that to you as a pet. Would you have to accept because he paid so much for this thoughtful present? Especially that you told him that you like animals, so it makes it your fault somehow, lol.
Talk to him, that you know what the present is and can't accept. Don't wait till the last moment, give him a chance to ask a friend to skydive instead.
Skydiving is probably not the best way to conquer your fear.Giphy
This is like helping you overcome a fear of dogs by covering you in gravy and locking you in a closet with a pack of half-starved wolves.
One person offered a script.Giphy
Here's a script: "Honey, thank you so much for the wonderful thought, but I can't accept the gift. I have an actual phobia of heights - not a mild fear, not a discomfort thing. Phobia. Going on this excursion would ruin my birthday and possibly our relationship - I'd be so embarrassed to have a panic attack right then after you'd gone to all this trouble! So let's you and me do something else instead and you can take [insert his best friend's name] skydiving instead."
Let him know his idea is not going to help you overcome your fear.
I'm like you, very afraid of heights. Sky diving is on my "never going to try that list." If that changes, great, but I wouldn't bend on that for someone else.
Your bf knows of your fear and still got you these tickets on some misguided notion that he's helping you. He obviously doesn't know how to help someone get over a phobia. Not to mention that you never asked him to help you with this. He's just forcing this on you.
If I were you I'd say "thanks for the tickets but I'm not going. Invite someone else or sell the ticket, but I will not be using it." I personally wouldn't feel bad about saying that and would be very disappointed in him for giving such a selfish, thoughtless gift. He could have bought you something you would enjoy and have a good time with and instead he literally bought you your greatest fear. Thanks bf :/
It seems like the gift is more for the boyfriend.Giphy
Boyfriend is about to learn a very expensive lesson about giving gifts that are more about HIM than about the person they're intended for. It seems he's got this whole plan of "curing" you of your fear and being a big fucking hero. Notice how you magically not being scared of heights afterward is actually the second-most significant thing in his fantasy?
His gift is selfish and stupid. The amount of money isn't the issue, and if he DARES try to guilt trip you with that, go fucking nuclear. It is neither his right or responsibility to "fix" you, and he doesn't have the power to do it even if you wanted to let him. The only person who can mitigate your fears and anxieties is you.
I would get ahead of this and tell him you found out, so you don't have to go through the embarrassing ritual of gift presentation. Personally, I'd be pissed and offended at his selfishness and presumption. I have phobias of my own and I've had to work really hard at times in my life to enforce boundaries around them - not to preserve them, but to keep the responsibility for managing them on myself... and to avoid gaining a father-figure who thinks I'm some broken dolly who needs sorting out.
Be careful telling people a surprise present is okay.Giphy
Lesson learnt OP, right? If you don't say what you want people might surprise you with your worst fear.
His reaction to declining the gift will be a sign.Giphy
I wouldn't condemn the BF just yet. I think his reaction to her refusing to do it will be more telling. He just may not understand phobias nor the extent of her phobia.
And if he truly cares, he'll make it up to you.Giphy
OP, this isn't a fair response.
You spoke to him about it in passing, he has no idea how bad your phobia is and I really truly believe he does want to help you get over it.
Is getting over it out of the question? Imagine you were able to go and just conquer that fear? You would be unstoppable. Is it something you would reconsider?
If not, wait until he gives you the gift. Be appreciative but also really tell him about your phobia (if it is out of the question) and tell him to go with one of his friends instead.
He'll make it up to you, I promise.
This is a reasonable assessment.Giphy
I would argue the real TL;DR here is "My boyfriend got himself a present for my birthday."
Part of the issue is that the relationship is new.Giphy
Most people give gifts that they'd love to receive themselves. It's an unconscious sort of blind spot: they think, "I'd really love this, so they will too!"
It takes a while of being together before these little things get sorted out. I wouldn't be able to skydive either, so that's hardly an unusual reaction. I think most people would be at least a little terrified of participating in most of the extreme sports.
I would talk to your man ASAP and tell him you know what his surprise gift is and you aren't on board, so that if he can get his money back or plan to go with his brother or best friend or something, he still has time to change plans.
Then I would very gently and kindly make a list for him of things that ARE on your bucket list that you'd really enjoy if he surprised you with it on a special day. It could be anything from "make me breakfast in bed" to "a day at the spa" to "coupons redeemable for specific chores I can use at any time" to "gift card to my favorite store". Just list any and everything that you'd really actually like. That way he can pick something and it'll still be a surprise but it won't be something terrifying.
Hopefully he can get a refund.Giphy
Tell him straight up. Just say that Sara told you about it because she knew how scared you are of heights and wanted to help avoid this problem. She really should have just told your BF, though. Why didn't she tell him how bad your phobia is? If she did and your BF ignored her then this is all on him.
Tell him sooner rather than later in case there are time limits related to getting refunds.
In the grand scheme of things though, it's not that big of a deal.Giphy
Well if you are both otherwise reasonable, it shouldn't be a huge deal. Be honest. Tell him the truth. Then tell him you'd be 110% fine if he took his best friend instead if he can't get his money back or really wants to go himself.
That's a risky gift and if he gets upset, I'd run away from the relationship entirely. my gut tells me the gift is more for him than for you though...
When looking at a resume, it's easy to understand how prospective employers will assume someone is very intelligent based on their education and past experience.
But one shouldn't only assume someone's intelligence based on what they read.
More often than not, one can tell rather quickly that someone possesses above-average intelligence, based on how they speak, how they behave, or other telling details.
Redditor PadWanKenobi was curious to hear what people felt were the tell tale signs they were in the company of a possible genius, leading them to ask:
"What’s a sign of extremely high intelligence?"
"Ability to intuitively and quickly understand complex systems and how lots of parts relate in a coherent whole."
"Like I work with some people who just keep tons of concepts in their head and easily integrate new information into their understanding of those concepts."
"They immediately know what questions they should be asking to better understand."
"And these are things they're currently working on, not like things they spent time studying in school over years."
"They just have a very strong ability to synthesize new information into their understanding."
"I sit in meetings distracted and confused having forgotten what we talked about in the previous meetings, and these folks just consistently have a solid handle on everything."- Ok-Control-787
Innate Problem Solvers
"They know when not to solve a problem."
"This took me a while to understand but the smartest people I know do this."
"It could be a really simple thing like ignoring emails from people asking for help."
"The supervisor or boss might have a quick and easy solution for the situation but instead of just handing it to the person that asked they let them figure it out on their own."
"They know who they can do this with and when to do it."
"If they did that with all of their underlings it would just create a mess."
"Another example that I can think of is planned chaos."
"Some people can predict exactly where things will go wrong and they could fix it before it creates a problem."
"They don't because nobody ever notices what's going on in the background when things are working perfectly."
"Once things fails then everybody notices and if you are the one person that fixed it you become the hero."
"They can also use then chaos to reach a goal they couldn't get before if things were working correctly."
"There's many examples of this in every day life that I didn't see before until I realized what was happening."- atapesGiphy
You know what they say about people with small hands
"If your hand is smaller than your face."- FallofTheKnight
The all knowing glow.
"When someone asks you a question and you push your glasses up while light comes out of it and covers your eyes for some reason."- JonEregor
Those giveaway behavioral quirks
"Wearing glasses and saying things like 'ah yes', and 'I see' while you pensively rub your chin."- iuytrefdgh436yujhe2Thinking Reaction GIF by ABC TV + IVIEWGiphy
"When they explain something they make the people around them feel smarter, not dumber."- redkat85
Being one step ahead.
"The capacity to understand complex things, see patterns where regular people don't."- Ostepop234
"They have this tendency to make you go 'Ohhh, why didn't I think of that?' when listening to them talk."- did_it_forthelulzWhy Didnt I Think Of That Cillian Murphy GIFGiphy
An endless love of learning
"A passion for knowledge and expanding understanding of complex concepts."
"The plumber can be just as insightful as the scholar."- KatatoniK94
Of course, one shouldn't always be fooled by what they see.
As many people are masters at appearing much smarter than they are.
In fact, one important sign of super intelligence is being able to separate those who appear smart, from those who actually are.
With each passing year of a marriage, couples will often discover that while they don't love each other any less than they once did, that spark their relationship used to carry has faded.
This will often lead these couples to look for ways to spice things up a bit.
Among the more popular experiments is inviting a third member to their bedroom.
Enticing as this prospect is, however, it's also easy to be intimidated by the reality of it, or even the mere suggestion of it.
"Men, what advice do you have for men whose wives want to bring a third into the bedroom?"
Make sure you want to do it.
"You need to be completely honest with yourself, ask if this is something you want and could live with."- Dame87
Proceed with caution
"It’s like frolicking in a mine field."
"You both better be SUPER into the idea, you can’t have one person who’s reluctantly agreed to go along with it."
"And established rules."
"A threesome sounds like fun and games until you’re watching your partner make faces and sounds that you only thought were for you in your most intimate moments together, and a burning jealousy comes out of nowhere and breaks your heart."
"I’m not saying it’s automatically a bad idea and I know people do polyamory successfully, but dear god be careful."- coleosis1414
Make sure you're an active participant
"I had an ex that was adamant that she wanted to be a swinger or whatever."
"The one time I decided to roll with it, I hit it off immediately with the other dude's girlfriend and had a blast hanging out with her all night."
"The other dude was a total creep, though."
"Also, my ex could not handle the fact that someone else was giving me the slightest bit of attention."
"So, needless to say, that didn't go anywhere."
"Turns out she didn't want to be a swinger, she just wanted to have sex with other people behind my back, which she had no problems whatsoever with."- Ted_Denslow
Look out for ulterior motives
"Just remember that if you bring this up and your husband is against it, that could be the beginning of the end of your marriage."
"For a lot of people their partner saying 'I am seriously considering having sex with other people and I'm checking with you if it is ok', is a deal breaker."- gamerplays
Consider a test run?
"Go to a bar together separately."
"Watch them flirt/interact with someone else."
"If you get jealous, it's probably a bad idea to bring in a third."
"If it turns you on, go for it."- SinSlayer
Query people with experience.
"It’s something my wife and I have talked about."
"We both agreed that opening the Pandora’s box is not the way we want our relationship to go."
"While it sounds fun, we have seen way to many relationships derailed because of it."- DarthDujo
Consider going whole hog.
"Bring a 4th."- xxemrgmi
Evaluate your relationship first.
"Make sure you and your partner are secure in your own relationship before having another person join."
"Have boundaries, and no secrets."
"From my experience it doesn't usually work out in the end."- Thick-Procedure455
"Don't do it."
"For a long time, my ex harbored a fantasy of watching me have sex with another woman."
"Hey, who knows why any of us are wired the way we are?"
"After contemplating the idea together for a while, we decided to approach one of her more attractive co-workers, who had made a series of flattering comments along the lines of "you're so lucky" and "he's so good-looking'."
"She enthusiastically agreed."
"Our first meet-up was of course awkward, but the second, third and following were pretty good."
"In fact they got progressively hotter, as we all got more comfortable with each other's boundaries, erotic likes and dislikes."
"However, over a few months these occasional kinky weekends transitioned into the co-worker asking more frequently and aggressively to be invited over."
"We tried to explain that we had intended these threesomes to be rare and exotic highlights in our sex life, not regular occurrences, but she didn't take the message to heart and instead became increasingly insistent, bordering on smothering."
"After being turned down one Friday, that night she unexpectedly showed up at our door anyway, carrying a weekend bag and wearing nothing but a raincoat, stay-ups and heels."
"While that was quite a sight, it definitely creeped us out, as it made us finally realize the whole arrangement was descending into 'play Misty for me' territory."
"My ex and I agreed that her unexpected and unwelcome appearance signaled the end of future three-ways, at least until we were able to cool our own selves down, reassess, and perhaps later find a less demanding and insistent third."
"Things subsequently got very sticky at work for my wife, as her co-worker, with whom she had to interact closely, strongly resented being permabanned, and kept demanding to know 'what she'd done that was so awful'."
"Coworker eventually asked to be transferred to another office, but by the time that process was over and done, the discomfort / guilt / pressure / confusion my ex was suffering both at home and at work had begun to take its psychological toll."
"I must confess it didn't help that our own sex life was simultaneously going through a rough patch."
"Long story short, we ended our decade-long relationship less than a year after breaking off the threesomes, chiefly due to trust issues and growing sexual incompatibility, both perhaps triggered by our experimentation."
"Ever since, I've regretted agreeing to that first three-way."
"If I hadn't been so damned eager to take a bite of forbidden fruit, we might have kept our relationship intact."
"But I guess this can also be put down as what sometimes happens when you ignore that old advice, 'don't sh*t where you sleep'."- theartfulcodger
When venturing into the unknown, it's always wise to gain some first hand experience, to hear a variety of pros and cons of what you're possibly getting yourself into.
That way, deciding whether or not it's for you will become increasingly clear.
It's also important to remember, that it is always ok to say "no".
People Share Their Best 'You Either Die The Hero Or Live Long Enough To Become The Villain' Experiences
"You either die the hero or live long enough to become the villain."
Though not necessarily a universal truth, all of us have witnessed unfortunate moments in our lives where we've seen this saying become a reality.
Be it seeing our favorite public figures take a serious fall from grace, someone we know and admire eventually disappointing us in a devastating manner, or even seeing ourselves turn into someone we promised we'd never become.
One Redditor was curious to hear people's examples of this saying coming to light, either from a personal experience or seeing it happen to a well-known, public figure, leading them to ask:
"Who is your example of 'you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain'?"
"He originally stood up for civil rights when it was really unpopular."
"Was hospitalized and accidentally placed in the black ward."
"When the doctors found out, they tried to move him, but he refused."
"Then he became a cult leader and used his power and influence to end the lives of a thousand people."- Crvsby
Earning a position of power
"Working in restaurant kitchens."
"You either burn out young, or become the boss that everyone hates."
"There's exceptions, but that's the rule."- grandpas_old_crow
"Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver."
"Made up a bunch of untested uses for it, treating people having asthma attacks, and drowning victims were the two I remember that he publicly talked up."
"Later, he funded an experiment that involved injecting people with Malaria to see if it would treat other conditions.
"The experiment was found to be unethical by American review boards, so he conducted them in Ethiopia." - User Deleted
"In WW1 he led the French to victory at Verdun, one of the worst battles in human history."
"In WW2, after France was beaten, Petain was the head of state of Vichy France."
"Guy went from the Lion of Verdun to the biggest Nazi collaborator in France."- arthuranymoredonuts
"Every organ until it gets cancer."- SuperBaconjam
"He had the whole country behind him here in Ireland at one point bar people who thought combat sport is grotesque."
"He was witty, original, backing himself up and having a Hollywood like rise to stardom."
"Now he's someone who the whole country is ashamed of, goes punching old men, clearly sleeps around on his wife while she's at home with the kids, just a walking caricature of himself."
"He didn't listen to his own advice."
"Get out."- StephenPigot2020
Turning into our parents
"My dad used to annoy me by calling my Pokemon cards 'Pokey-Mans'."
"Now my kids have them and I do the same thing and it annoys the sh*t out of them."
"Thanks for the (Pokeyman) gold!"- rumpel4skinOU
"Almost died during the revolutionary way, if I recall correctly, and if he had he would have been remembered a huge hero, and a martyr."
"Instead he lived and changed sides, and is remembered only for his being a traitor."- uniqueperson22
Be it someone we knew quite intimately, or someone we admired from a far, it is always heartbreaking to see someone evolve from someone we love, to someone we utterly hate.
Sometimes we do things that have to be done.
And some of those things live in life's gray area of right and wrong.
What comes as a surprise to some is when we don't care if we're wrong.
We may still technically be in the right.
But morally and ethically, there may be some issues.
But still, many people don't care.
Redditor BirdyPizzawanted to see who would fess up about some of the worst things we're responsible for but have no shame.
"What is the darkest thing you have ever done and don’t regret?"
I've stolen from department stores that overcharged. I was arrested. I didn't care. So there...
"Five years ago my dad suffered a catastrophic stroke. Left paralyzed and robbed of his speech and ability to communicate he was a shell of the once vibrant, charismatic man he once was. He was moved into skilled nursing where he lived for nearly two years, he was miserable."
"On my last visit I told him it was okay if he wanted to leave us, that we would miss him but he should go. A week later I received the call that he had passed. Instead of immediate grief I felt relief. Relief that he was finally free. The grief came later and I still miss him every single day."
"Got into a car accident and had to stay with my mom for a couple days to figure out what to do. Went back to my apartment (I had two roommates) and everything was missing from my room. Long story short one of my roommates had everything hidden in her room."
"I called and told her the things were missing from my room and she came up with a lie that a couple girls came to look at my room (I was moving out bc of the accident, long story) and that they must have taken my things. She had everything I owned. Including my grandmothers perfume bottles, stuffed to the back of her closet, under her bed, behind her dresser etc."
"So I packed all of my stuff up. Then took a giant black garbage bag and stuffed as much of her closet in it as I could. Took it to the middle of nowhere, dug a hole and burnt it. She called screaming at me that her stuff was missing. I told her the two girls must have come by and taken her stuff too."
"I hit my uncle left right and center when he was trying to choke my father to death. I was 16 years old at that time, a very skinny girl. I beat his face neck and every part of him that I could target with so much intensity that my knuckles turned blue the next day. I had an animalistic rage that day trying to help my father get away from his death grip. I hate my uncle even today."
"I got anger issues because of growing up around him. And I don't regret beating him that day at all. He was physically abusive to his wife as well. One fine day, his wife retaliated by beating him blue with a stick. And he stopped being physically violent towards her post that."
"A neighbor like 10 years ago was neglecting their dog badly in the heat. The dog escaped often and ended up at the shelter a lot. One day she jumped the fence and got her tie-out cable stuck on the fence. (She was not in danger of choking.) Neighbor put her on a 3-foot-long cable tied to a doorknob, no water, 90 degree day. I let some kind folks steal her, watched the whole thing and said nothing to stop them."
"When my father was dying and in pain I was the one who told the doctors he had been through enough and we couldn't see him suffer anymore. Doctor injected him with something, I assume a morphine mega dose and he passed peacefully moments after. Euthanasia may not be legal in UK but compassionate doctors know what's what. I don't regret it because my pa made me promise I would have his back when he got sick or old. I'm sad he got sick and never got to get old."
That is a lot of mess. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do.
"One of my ex best friends in high school was a real narcissistic lunatic. Had so many egotistical fantasies about what he deserved but I remained his friend because we met through my close friend (his girlfriend). As I started realizing what a terrible person he was I convinced him to go after his fantasy of a harem by asking to add a 3rd to their relationship, that led to a fight between his gf."
"I called her about it and asked how she felt about him adding someone to their relationship and about him sleeping with her. She said she knew nothing about that and started crying because he cheated on her. I basically helped orchestrate their breakup and have no regrets. She is happy with her first child now and he is in a toxic af relationship with 3 kids, 2 of which aren't his and his partner is 8 years older than him."
"Had to make the choice to take my dad off of life support after he got Covid this year. He was sedated for a couple of weeks and one of his lungs collapsed and I couldn't watch him fall apart anymore. My dad was a bulky dude. Constantly did a lot of outdoor work and to see him bone skinny and have no muscle left killed me and I knew even if he somehow got through it, he would have been so miserable and depressed in that state he was in. I don’t regret it. I think it was the right thing to do by him. I’ll never not miss him though. That was my buddy."
"Turned a close friend into the fish and game. He would poach mountain lions and bears. His whole family would literally shoot them and leave them. He would brag about it. I couldn’t stand it and felt that I needed to stop him. He’s in prison and so is his uncle. I know I ruined his life but he was literally killing so many mountain lions and bears."
"In middle school, there was this group of boys that would corner me in the hallway and try to scare me. I was the perfect target for these little b**tards. I was short, skinny, and had (and still have) and anxiety disorder. One day I just had enough, and asked a friend if I could have an extra pencil, sharpened it as much as I could, and when I saw one of them in the hallway, I stabbed the hell out of his leg. Sh**head got what he deserved."
Wow... we really are a dark and secretive people.