Saturday, January 19, 2008

Is Morality Important in a Partner?

"Dear Prudence" at Slate says a one time moral blunder is okay, I say it's a warning sign. "Mr. Goody Two Shoes" writes Prudence, concerned that his girlfriend is a thief:

The other day my girlfriend of three years told me that she found a wallet with over $200 inside. When I asked her what she was going to do with it, she said she was going to keep the cash. When I asked her why, she responded that she "needed the money." While I can understand finding that much money just laying on the ground doesn't happen often, I am somewhat disappointed and shocked by the lack of ethics in her final decision (even though we are both pretty broke at the moment). I even had to plead with her to anonymously mail back the person's driver's license and other contents of the wallet because it was a generous thing to do. Part of me just wants to forget the whole thing ever happened, while another part of me tries to make her feel guilty for being so misanthropic. Are opposing moral views something I should just accept within our relationship, or is this a sign of a deeper issue?

Prudie's response?

...... But your next move should not be to try to make her feel guilty, but to get her to understand why you were so disturbed by this incident. Tell her you don't want to keep flogging this, and after this discussion you will not bring it up again, but what nags at you about the whole thing is how out of character it was for her, because she is a thoughtful, considerate person. You can add that you know that if she accidentally left her wallet somewhere, she'd hope the person who found it would return it intact. Obviously, you're looking for her to say that you're right, and that she realizes she made a mistake. She may feel so defensive that she can't do that now, but maybe after mulling it, she will. Keep your promise that you will then let this drop. You've known her for three years, so unless other evidence presents itself, consider it a one-time lapse.

Hello? The girlfriend should feel guilty, she took someone else's money and then had no qualms about never returning the wallet. This is not a one-time lapse, it is a window into how the girlfriend ticks. Understanding how someone operates when under stress or when no one else is watching is important. It tells you how they will treat you under the same circumstances. The girlfriend said she took the money because she needed it, what if this couple gets married and this woman needs money or something else in the future, will she just take it out of your joint account when you're not watching even if you don't want her too? If she gets desperate enough, what else will she do? Perhaps this guy doesn't know this woman as well as he should.

I would tell him to take this behavior as a warning sign and to keep it forefront in his mind. Does he plan on marrying her at some point? If so, I would tell him to have a looooonnnng engagement because watching how she responds to that stress might tell him even more about what kind of person she is, or isn't. It's better that he find out about her lack of morals now before he is sitting in divorce court, or worse, in a loveless marriage wondering how he missed the warning signs when they were right in front of him all along.



Blogger Michael Lee said...

Prudie is an idiot.

Just watch. There will be some kind of asinine scandal with her one of these days.

Someone used to post lampoons of her advice that were hilarious. But I lost track of them. If anyone remembers where those are, I would love a link to them.

9:11 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Wow, I would have told him to dump the woman right then.

9:22 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

Theodore Roosevelt once owned a cattle ranch where he employed several hands. One day, one of his hands came in from the field with a calf that had wandered over from a neighboring ranch. Roosevelt saw his employee about to brand the calf with the Roosevelt ranch's brand, stopped him, and fired him on the spot. His explanation?

"A man that will steal for me will steal from me."

Something to think about.

9:56 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Dump the thief.


10:03 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

So far, it looks like several of you think I was too lenient and the guy should have dumped her right then!

10:08 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Danny said...

Helen, I woul dgo one further.
First, the guy should dump his GF. Then, he should report her to the police for the theft she had committed. ( in most States, a theft cash or items valued over $49.00 or $50.00 becomes a felony charge.)
And if the man cant bring himself to dump said thieving GF and report her to the cops, I'd call him a wimpy geek, who ought to give up his "man-card"!! :):)

10:45 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger BobH said...

To Helen:

I have to agree with the consensus here. He should have dumped the girl. On the other hand, this advice of yours is pretty good for any relationship:

"I would tell him to have a looooonnnng engagement because watching how she responds to that stress might tell him even more about what kind of person she is, or isn't. It's better that he find out about her lack of morals now before he is sitting in divorce court, or worse, in a loveless marriage wondering how he missed the warning signs when they were right in front of him all along."

11:12 AM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger pdwalker said...

My advice?

Dump her and fast. It is a sign of a completely screwed up moral code and that is the last kind of personl you want to be spending your life with.

What if she decides to turn her precious moral code against him?

uh uh. no way. Marriage with women is fraught with enough danger without getting involved with someone as flawed as this moral midget.

12:38 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Darleen said...

Yep...dump her immediately.

Contrast that immoral behavior with the reactions of these people to an unlocked car full of high priced goodies.

1:16 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Mad William Flint said...

"Obligatory Me Too Comment" (tm)

It's such a wonderful window in to the way her mind works that it's really tough for me to come up with another perspective on it.

I had a relationship recently where I got one of those "morality warning signs" and I didn't heed it. Details aside, it bit me in the arse badly.

Once I did the math and realized that my initial hunch was right, well...

"Like a bad habit."

1:17 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Lone Star JW said...

Everybody has their price. This woman's price is a mere $200. She has shown she will steal for that much, what wouldn't she do for that?

People don't really see what their friends do. They have an image of fidelity and trust and love, then they cut and paste reality into pretzels so that their friends (the more important the relationship the more skilled they become with scissors and glue) actions seem to conform to their ideals. It is only when a stark event that isn't able to be filtered through the usual arrays occurs that the 'friend's' actions can be seen clearly.

If this woman would take $200 from a wallet with ID, and purpose callously to trash the effects, there is a lot of other stuff she is already doing, but the BF is refusing to see the pattern.

1:18 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

The good news is that there are one or two people left who are capable of outrage. I sometimes think I am the only person left who is[1].

Yes, he should have dumped her. Yes, he should report the theft. Yes, he should have done all of that without having to ask anybody. And, yes, you should have said so.

[1] Every now and again something like this comes up--most recent that comes to mind was loading some bags of stuff at Lowe's (that had been "scanned" without taking it out of the cart) in my car, discovered several small items in the bottom of the cart that I had forgotten about. Went back into the store, clerk, thanked me, rang up the stuff, etc--no big deal, as should be. Other incidents like that often result in flustered clerks, questions about how to deal with it, etc etc etc. Great puzzle to me.

But some times the karma thing arises. Years ago my mother made a withdrawal of a fairly large amount of money (what they would live on for some months). As she walked away from the teller she realized that the teller had counted out the sum ($2,000 sticks in my mind but the truth is I don't remember for sure--and this was back in the 1970's where $2000 was a LOT of money to some of us) using $20 bills as if they were $10 bills.

Mom went back to the teller who was just started with another customer and said "Please excuse me, but I think you made a mistake, ..." and was interrupted by the teller in a loud and strident voice telling the world for several counties in each direction that they did not make mistakes, and besides, she had walked away from the window .....

I don't know for sure but I am pretty sure that Mom waited a week or two and went back to talk to the manager--she did not talk a lot about such things.

1:28 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would personally return the wallet. I've had similar things happen where I've seeked out the person to return the item. On the other hand, this is not theft. Loose morals? probably. But if you find something and don't return it you are not a thief that should be punished by the law. You're just a bad person.

I agree on the dumping her thing

4:01 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Wikipedia (among others) says "In the criminal law, theft (also known as stealing) is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent. ...".

How does the perp know that the "found" item was not placed where it was, on purpose? (Not a bright idea, for sure, but wisdom in leaving valuable things unattended is not part of either the law, or any moral system I am aware of.)

4:20 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

Dare I remind everyone about observing the mote in someone else's eye with the beam in your own?

All those who declare that the girlfriend should be dumped should step back a moment and consider whether they would want their own actions judged so harshly (and without context.) I sure as hell wouldn't.

I'm normally a very honest person, but I've done some spectacularly dishonest things in my life. I hate to be judged for those truly rare exceptions rather than what my actions actually are the vast majority (i.e. 99.999%) of the time.

4:35 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Want to be judged? Hell no (pun intended).

Should be judged? Yeah, probably.

4:50 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

joe --

I've personally returned maybe four or five wallets with money intact in my life.

And, yeah. Judge me by what I do. Especially judge me harshly if I decide to go ahead and cause someone else grief for a few bucks after my significant other pleaded with me to talk me out of it and it was made clear it bothered them a lot.

What context, pray tell, would justify keeping the money and trashing the ids, cards, etc?

6:52 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger El Duderino said...

The nimrod seeking advice deserves the mendacious bimbo, because he knows better and instead of dumping Ms Sticky Fingers, he writes in to Dr. Clueless for absolution. If he stays with her and finds her engaging in other inappropriate activities, like sleeping with his friends, dating her boss, cheating at Scrabble and tearing labels from un-purchased habiliments, he has only himself to blame.

8:35 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Kel said...

I agree with everyone here who says that the girl should IMMEDIATELY be dumped. He should dump her and RUN THE HELL AWAY from her.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that even if he dumps her, the next girl and the girl after that, and on, will probably have the exact same terrible morals. His only real hope of finding a person who isn't a thief is to date a person considering becoming a nun.

9:40 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

Good News:

The Slaters are giving Prudie hell for that brain cramp.

12:30 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Kel said...

Dr. Helen,

In answer to your blog title, morality is probably the most important thing to me in a girl. I don't care how beautiful or funny a person is, because if their morals aren't right, then there'll always be trouble later. Even a seemingly nice girl could be incredibly selfish later on, in her more guarded moments.

I use religion as a proxy for this when dating a person. If she's religious, that's a good sign (and I'm not talking about merely going through the motions, she has to LIVE the religion). Practicing Catholics preferred. It's not always the best proxy, but it does help. In NYC, where I live, if you go to church, that definitely sets you apart from the rest of the general scum in the City.

1:42 AM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought that character is what one does when (s)he knows no one is looking.

9:05 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger AmericanWoman said...

A few years ago, my husband and I were at the beach. I found a wallet with about $30 in cash and lots of credit cards and ID in it in the sand.

It never occurred to me to keep the cash. I saw a police officer who was stationed at the beach and handed it to him. He saw that it had cash in it and looked at me like I had 3 heads. I don't know what he did with the wallet.

I've had my wallet stolen a few times and was lucky and happy to get back just the wallet and ID with no cash. Last year I stupidly left my entire pocketbook in a shopping cart. I went back for it, but it was gone. The next day a man came to my house to return it, everything intact. I gave him the $40 cash that I had in it for being honest and for his trouble.

Taking the cash is bad enough, but not even thinking to return the wallet (even anonymously) is a horrible character flaw. Dump the beyotch.

9:07 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

When my son was in kindergarten he found a money clip in snow while we walked out to the car. It had $240 and no ID except an initial engraved on the clip. Going through an expensive divorce at the time, I really could have used the money. Instead, we walked the three blocks to the police station to turn it in.

The receptionist at the police station immediately recognized the clip as belonging to her grandfather. She thanked us profusely and took our names and address. Eventually, her grandfather sent my son $20 as a reward. But, more importantly, I got to give my son a real-life lesson in honesty. We also endeared ourselves to our small town police department which can be helpful at times.

I wonder what lesson this woman would have taught her kids. Dump her.

9:53 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Mike said...


If you have done some spectacularly dishonest things in your life, that is on you. The rest of us aren't going to live cowed lives because you feel guilty about what you've done.

The only thing I've ever stolen was a toy that didn't cost even $1 when I was a kid. Out of guilt, I discretely dropped it back off with the rightful owner. Am I fit to judge this woman's actions, and say that she's probably a scumbag? Absolutely because while I have moral problems of my own, stealing isn't one of them (nor is lying).

10:31 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

"All those who declare that the girlfriend should be dumped should step back a moment and consider whether they would want their own actions judged so harshly (and without context.) I sure as hell wouldn't."

Actions have consequences. Sometimes one stupid, out of character action can have disastrous consequences.

The guy had to plead with her just to get her to return the ID. It's not like he said "hey, hon, that's stealing, ya know?" and she snapped out of it and returned everything. But he's an idiot too, because returning the items in the wallet is not the "generous" thing to do, it's the right thing to do.

1:59 PM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a practical matter, would you want to enter into a business partnership - which marriage is, in part - with someone this dishonest? Sounds like you'd be letting yourself in for credit problems, tax problems, and possibly even trouble with the law. People like this cut corners to get what they want. They often get caught. In a marriage, both spouses pay the price.

2:07 PM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh - and about not casting the first stone. It's not about judging a person's worth as a human being. Most of the time, you don't really know whether the person is 'bad' or that you're really 'better' than they are. What you do recognize is that their behavior is self-destructive and could possibly destroy you as well. You have to adjust your relationship with them accordingly.

2:17 PM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On second thought, perhaps she is a liberal democrat, and was just practicing her personal version of the re-distribution of wealth.

2:33 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Friend of USA said...

I once brought back an item of high value to someone who had lost it and barely got a thank you for it.

No reward.

I'm not saying I was owed a reward but I could have kept or sold the item that was worth a lot of money, and then the person would have have never seen the item ever again.

I also once picked up a gold necklace from the dance floor a woman had just lost while dancing, she did not feel it slip off her neck,
and when I gave it to her, she gave me a stare as if she thought I was a thief or something.
no thank you, nothing, just a cold angry stare while she ripped it off my hand.

I could not believe it!

I never for a second thought she would treat me like dirt for doing something honest and moral.

So if I were to find a wallet, I would keep some of the money to reward myself and then mail it to the owner.

my "sin" is certainly not worse than the ugly ingratitude I have received and could receive again.

Rewarding good behavior is constructive, being ingrate is not.

3:04 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

It is unfortunate that the world has forgotten, in large part, how to say "Thank you."

But my moral system, and the moral system of no person I am interested in knowing contains the words "Thank you" in the determination of right and wrong.

Being able to fall asleep with a clear conscience is important, and sometimes I take a little guilty pleasure is knowing that the loser is a jerk, in addition to being stupid, and I say to myself "It must really suck to be that person, or anybody that person knows."

3:44 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

"So if I were to find a wallet, I would keep some of the money to reward myself and then mail it to the owner."

And so a culture degenerates. 2 people I encountered in my life treated my honorable act with less reverence (and reward) than I deserved, so I'll show them by stealing from the next unfortunate soul who gives me the opportunity.

4:11 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

I am truly and seriously impressed by the apparent consensus here.

The world may be in better shape than I thought.

4:16 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


It is important to remember that most people are decent and fairly moral; I thought for a long time that people were morally bankrupt because of the clients that I saw on a daily basis. I know this is not the case. The good in people usually wins out. However, that does not mean overlooking individuals that one comes in contact with that offer evidence to the contrary such as the girlfriend in the example; she seems like a poor choice for a partner, except in crime.

4:54 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Helen said: "...she seems like a poor choice for a partner, except in crime."

Heh. I agree absolutely with everything said before that quote, but I think if I were to take up a life of crime I would think she talks to much.

Which makes her a loser all the way around.

5:12 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Teresa said...

You have to wonder about people like the writer of the letter who are so confused over right and wrong that they have to ask someone else. Sheesh.

As another commenter noted above, he deserves her in some measure just because of the letter. But if he isn't locking up all his valuables whenever she's in the room - he's a complete moron.

Yeah, I'm another one who says he should've dumped her - immediately. I've never stolen anything (although I was once accused and given the "3rd degree" by my boss until the woman actually found that her money had slipped to the bottom of her purse... *sigh*) and I have no patience for those who do and yet try to find reasons to excuse their behavior.

Oh and, sorry to Sydney Carton, I am not a regular church goer. I don't think you need church to keep you in line, nor do I think those who attend church are necessarily better people. After much experience, I'd have to say the only way to figure it out is to get to know the person. Nothing short of directly seeing how people react in situations will tell you what their moral code is.

5:35 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Bruce said...

Whether or not the rightful owner offers a thank-you or reward says things about their character. Whether or not you return everything to the rightful owner says things about you.

You have no morality if you're not willing to give things up for the sake of upholding it, whether you "need" something or not.

I believe upholding a set of good moral behaviors in all circumstances will show up to other people who will sense your character.

5:37 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Birkel said...

Telling her boyfriend about the theft is interesting. Did she do it for validation? Did she do it because she felt badly about her decision and wanted him to talk her out of it?

I'd be concerned about her motivations one way or the other if I were the boyfriend.

5:44 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger wGraves said...

People like the girlfriend are, unfortunately, not difficult to find. If you ask her why she steals, she will probably reply that everybody does it. And that's a big red flag. Anyone who reasons from the 'everybody does it' premise is an ethical train wreck. Whenever you hear that, pay attention. And yes, probably her family and close friends all 'do it.' Is this the sort of person you want a relationship with?

5:49 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger SwampWoman said...

I wouldn't want a person with a seriously defective moral compass as a friend, much less a partner. Don't walk away, run away.

5:57 PM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously defective moral compass my ass. Finders keepers, losers weepers.

You find a wedding band or, say, an heirloom piece of silver, you return it or hand it over to the police to see if they can find the owner. You find cash, you keep it and send the wallet back. There's no moral lapse there (unless you saw the wallet fall out of someone's pocket, then if you keep it that's theft).

Sorry, but most of you sound like you're taking a really easy opportunity to stand on a moral pedestal and feel good about yourselves. I'm not buying it.

7:01 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger The Big H said...

This girlfriend is nothing but grief. Dump her, call the cops, and tell her you are calling the cops.

As far as judging goes, I learned at an early age that stealing is wrong and I don't do it. Period. There is nothing that anyone has that I want. If I see someone stealing, I call the cops immediately or I try to stop them.

Yachira, you sound just like the type of sorry slimeball that I would call the cops on.

7:27 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...


Oh, wait. "Finders Keepers, losers weepers." Was the Christ, Buddha, or Kant?

That's right there in the book of morals, next to, "He who smelt it, dealt it" and "You move your meat you lose your seat."

Genius, man, genius.

7:29 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

I have found loose money on several occasions. My usual tactic is to pick it up and immediately look for anyone who might have dropped it. (There the ones walking along while digging in their pockets or purse.)

Strangely enough, I've never gotten a bad reastion from returning money. And once I had a kid on a train ask what to do with found money— told him to take it to the conductor. Then I got back to the seat and discovered it was mine (oops) so I retrieved it and gave the kid a reward (because he'd never thought of keeping it, he was honestly trying to figure out how to get it back to the owner.)

There's plenty of honest people around. Sometimes you just get a run of the othery type.

7:52 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Hushashi said...

not. marriage. material. full stop.

don't break up with her if she's a hottie, but if he marries her he should have his head examined.

8:07 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Synova said...

I think that most people write those sorts of letters in order to prove to the other person that more people agree with them. That they aren't being a prude.

I agree he should dump the dishonest girlfriend.

If the comments to the original column are similar to here, probably the girlfriend is being shown them. "See, *most* people think that's stealing."

8:15 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Bill Peschel said...

"You have to wonder about people like the writer of the letter who are so confused over right and wrong that they have to ask someone else. Sheesh."

Teresa, I'd like to cut the guy a break. He wants to learn, so he asks.

Notice that he thought he was right about what to do with the money and the wallet. He was not so sure about what to do with the girlfriend.

I would have asked the same question at one time. I was dating a hottie who I took to a club, and saw her take someone else's bottle of liquor and sneak a drink out of it. I was so stunned (by drink, by hormones, by seeing such a stupid act), that I couldn't begin to broach the subject with her.

Fortunately, the bartender spotted her and threw us out. Even better, I didn't marry her.

8:22 PM, January 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What she *should* have done to really make the world a better place is not only keep the wallet, but ruin the life of someone so stupid as to lose their wallet.

First, soak it slightly in a highly carcinogenic non-volative liquid like hexamethyldiethylamide (HMDA), and then after demagnetizing the credit cards, scan and inkjet print the actual money contents and crumple them up a bit to make them look real, but are in fact easily (by a store clerk, and the police who then arrive), forged money. Next, order 12 "Bill Me Later" magazines to their address, each week for the next year. On the one year anniversary, pen a death threat in their (see back of credit cards) handwriting to several, including top government officials unless they repeal the gas tax. Do not cancel the credit cards though, just post scans of their front and back to a hacker forum. Next, mail them a fake mail marketing gift such as a free disposable camera (and suggestion they sign up for Google's picture album site), only stuff most of the camera insides with cocaine. Then, three days later, make an anonymous call to the police that person X is smuggling cocaine inside of cheap plastic digital cameras, but they ripped you off so you want to rat them out. As they die of skin cancer in prison, you can smile, knowing that you are not just amoral but actively evil, especially since you spent the $300 on 12 year old prostitutes in Thailand.

9:05 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

What worries me is the narcissism. It never occurred to the thief to think of the victim. She just saw the victim as an object: when there was personal gain with no adverse consequences to herself, others did not signify.

That's not just dishonesty. Run, do not walk, away, and warn all your friends. Suggest she might seek treatment.

9:18 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

g.h. hushashi wrote:

"don't break up with her if she's a hottie, but if he marries her he should have his head examined."

Two young friends are now having to raise children with 'hotties' they didn't want to break up with. You think if she'll steal $200, she'll stop short of faking birth control when she thinks there's a lifetime meal ticket in front of her?

9:31 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Steve Poling said...

My 2 cents. He should NOT try to make his G/F feel guilty. That's God's job and when humans get in the way they goof it up. Does the guy love the girl? How much does he love her? Does he love her $200 worth?

If not, he should dump her.

If so, he should ask the girl to give him the wallet, sans cash, so that he can return it anonymously to the owner. Then he should quietly replace the $200 from his own pocket. If she happens to find out that he's short $200 and why, OK, but don't hide it or advertise it.

If you're familiar with how Christianity works, this should not sound particularly strange.

10:10 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger blogagog said...

Why do you continue to go by the pseudonym 'Smith'? Everyone knows you are a Greenwald. Just wonderin'.

10:26 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger marion said...

Understanding how someone operates when under stress or when no one else is watching is important.

THANK YOU. I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone excuse the *egregiously* unacceptable behavior of his or her SO by saying, "Well, she/he was under a lot of stress! She/he isn't really like that!" Sorry, but ANYONE can be sweet and moral when things are going well. The real question is, how do they behave when the chips are down - when the other person in the relationship has lost his/her job, when a child gets very sick, when a natural disaster destroys home and hearth?

Don't get me wrong - I don't expect people to be perfect angels under stress, especially extreme stress. But there's a big difference between, say, snapping at someone once and later apologizing and, say, screaming at someone that he/she is worthless and stupid. Where's the line? Not 100% sure, but part of protecting oneself is figuring that out.The idea that being under stress/duress gives one an excuse for otherwise *egregiously* unacceptable behavior is a fallacy perpetuated by abusive personalities, and every time I see it argued, I wince.

What worries me is the narcissism. It never occurred to the thief to think of the victim. She just saw the victim as an object: when there was personal gain with no adverse consequences to herself, others did not signify.

Exactly. And that, I think, is the response to the poster who claimed we were judging this woman too harshly. None of us is perfect. We have said and done things we regret. But this particular action is on another level from garden-variety imperfections. This woman appears to be totally unable or unwilling to think about how it would feel to have one's wallet - and potentially one's identity - stolen. If that's the case, then how much weight is she going to give to her partner's feelings and needs, especially when the chips are down? Dump her.

I think the boyfriend knows what to do. However, I've found that, when dealing with sociopathic personalities, regular people can get confuzzled specifically because what the other person is saying is SO absurd. This is his girlfriend. He cares about her. He had thought she was a good person. Now she's done something unbelievable. His brain is trying to process all of the information, including the fact that *she* seems so blase about it. What he needs to do is to realize that some of his previous assumptions about her were very wrong, and see her in a new light. That often takes longer, short of immediate and violent stimuli (such as finding your SO in bed with your best friend, for example). He may just have needed confirmation from an outside source that yes, his girlfriend's behavior is immoral.

steve: I'm a Christian, and I don't remember ever reading a Scripture that called upon you to not just forgive a sinner, but to continue sleeping with her and to join your life with hers (or his). He can forgive her all he wants, but claiming that his love for her is worth less than $200 if he won't "let this go" is ridiculous. By your logic, NO ONE would ever be prosecuted for theft. I am reminded of the old yarn that ends with God saying, "I sent a raft, a powerboat, and a helicopter to save you! What more did you want?"

10:32 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Mark O. Martin said...

Great and reassuring thread, Dr. Helen.... (I finally got Blogger to take my name again, so I can post once more).

About seven years ago, where I used to teach, I got out of my car one morning, and found a rolled up bundle of bills. No identifying marks.

It was 350 dollars.

So I called the Information Tech folks on campus, and was able to get permission to send a broadcast e-mail to everyone on campus, student, faculty, and staff alike.

I wrote: "If you have lost something important this morning, I believe I have found it in such and such parking lot. Please identify it exactly and I will be happy to return it."

Twenty minutes later, I got a call from a very flustered student, who had lost his "book buying" bankroll (he knew the correct amount, and I never told the IT folks how much money I found). Apparently it was in his pocket, and as he got out of his car, it fell to the asphalt.

So I was able to return his money. English majors buy a lot of books, and they aren't cheap.

The reason I am telling this story was the very large number of people who thought I was foolish to try to return the money. People who I expected to call me foolish did so...but some people I thought better of did as well. It was an education to me.

Thus, this thread makes me feel much better even after seven years.

11:04 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger jjv said...

Finder's keepers, losers weepers. This is ancient wisdom. Someone follows it and is branded a criminal? For shame from a libertarian perspective. I thought the libertarian rallying cry was "what's in it for me?" and all else was opression by the state?

In point of fact, I'm almost always appalled by prudie but she is Bishop Fulton Sheen compared to "the ethicist" at the NYT.

Its probably right to watch her and criticize this but a quick dumping of the girl without more seems a little extreme. Also, if she is good looking and physically appealing in other ways it makes it very, very hard for a young man to simply dump her over this.

11:46 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Steven said...

Unlike jjv, most libertarians I have known have been pretty honorable. Not all, but most. They certainly appreciate property rights.

When I saw this advice, my reaction was more like Helen's than most of the commenters; I thought this should cause a rethinking of the relationship, but not necessarily an immediate dumping.

What intrigued me, though, was her advice a couple notes later; a woman wrote in saying she wanted to marry someone, and he seemed to want to marry her, except that he wanted her to lose 20 lbs first. Prudence said she should dump him immediately. Well, that's not admirable, either, but I didn't think she had enough context to say she should dump him based on that, if everything else seems right. It struck me as a jarring contrast to her complete nonchalance about the woman who took the money two letters earlier.

12:03 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Finders keepers. Right.

Just walking along, found a E-jag sitting there in the parking lot, windows open, key in the ignition.....

Finders, keepers, right?

With this, I'll say the right-thinkers are in the majority, and I am heartened by that and I think I'll stand down now.

I am interested in how the activity in this thread compares to others.

12:06 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger jeff said...

I had an ex-Girlfriend who I should have noticed the warning signs on when she was offended at me for being annoyed at her snacking out of the bulk food bins... right under the "No Snacking" sign.

Sigh. Fortunately for my future sanity she dumped me a couple months later. I would have gone crazy dealing with the matriarchy of her mother and two sisters.

Love may be blind... lust is blind and deaf.

12:12 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger pdwalker said...

Finder's keepers, losers weepers. This is ancient wisdom.

Oh my GOD!

That's twice people have brought this up.

This is not ancient wisdom, this is a childish catcall.

Grow up!

12:24 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Maxine Weiss said...

The guy wasn't upset that girlfriend took the money.....he was only upset that she didn't mail back the driver's license.

I think both the girl and the guy are idiots. Mailing back a driver's license......the Police can easily trace the sender, (fingerprints on the drivers license, and cameras at the mailbox etc...) and then you've got an even bigger problem of mail fraud on your hands, as well as theft.

As far as giving someone a second chance, if it were me.....the first time IS the last time !!!!

1:06 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

The self-righteousness here kills me. EVERY person here has done dishonest acts in their life. Everyone here has done things that embarrass them and would hate to have their character solely judged on those things. To pretend otherwise is exactly what the moral of the mote and beam parable was about (regardless of your religious attitudes, it's still a great parable.)

What I consider spectacularly dishonest things in my own life would likely be dismissed out-of-hand by the average person as trivial. I've made restitution for those acts where I could and try to live my life as honestly as possible; to the extent possible, I've even purchased legitimate copy of every piece of music I have.

This isn't to brag, just to point out that the moralizing in these responses is nauseating and probably extremely hypocritical. I'm quite sure everyone here has had a spouse or partner do something immoral, but you forgave them.

I go back to my point; how many people here would really accept being judged with the same harshness with which you are judging this woman and her boyfriend?

2:01 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Friend of USA said...

Yachira said,

Sorry, but most of you sound like you're taking a really easy opportunity to stand on a moral pedestal and feel good about yourselves. I'm not buying it.

Yachira I'm not buying it either.

I just don't buy it.

Next thing you know they will tell us they never smoked pot as teenagers or they never ever have sexual thoughts about their neighbor's wife!

Yeah right.

it's hilarious what people will pretend, even behind the anonimity of comment boxes.

I am way more honest for admitting what I would do with a found wallet - not a stolen wallet but a lost wallet - than all these people here pretending to be pure.

2:03 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Friend of USA said...

Joe said,

The self-righteousness here kills me. EVERY person here has done dishonest acts in their life.

It is killing me too!

and I will add that
out of 63 comments,

60 persons here pretend to be pure and perfect which is dishonest of them,

and only 3 persons here ( Yachira, Joe and me ) are actually honest enough to admit we all have done or would do little imperfect acts.

2:26 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

"The guy wasn't upset that girlfriend took the money.....he was only upset that she didn't mail back the driver's license."

Wrong. He said"While I can understand finding that much money just laying on the ground doesn't happen often, I am somewhat disappointed and shocked by the lack of ethics in her final decision (even though we are both pretty broke at the moment). I even had to plead with her to anonymously mail back the person's driver's license"

Yachira, Joe and Friend of USA, it speaks volumes that you assume that anyone who says they would do something good is lying, that people are 'pretending'.People do actually refrain from taking things that do not belong to them. Really, if you lost over $200 in cash and I picked it up and kept it you'd really say 'that's okay'? Somehow I doubt it.

2:41 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said... was this the one you mean michael lee

yes i have done a few bad things, but if its in a wallet with his personal details, its not mine, if i find money on the street, with no obvious owneship..

5:15 AM, January 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yachira, joe, and friend of the usa:

I submit you are cynical folks. That you assume everyone thinks as you do, and for them to say otherwise, is being disingenuous.

Keeping the money is the wrong thing to do. It's not that hard.

6:29 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Geez, my 10 and 9 year old kids, when faced with the question "what would you do if you found a wallet full of money and the person's identification" answered "take it to them." They were stunned by the notion that anyone would think it was OK to do otherwise. It made for interesting dinnertime discussion.

7:25 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

y, j, fu --

You also have done a poor job of counting in order to spin, as a number of posts were made by the same people.

That said, in my life I've done poor things, and I was judged harshly -- as I should have been. Those things being done prior to my mid-teens, when conscience and morality kicked in. That's the point here, she was an adult. She had a long time to learn better and didn't.

Have I stolen? Not since I was maybe twelve or so. Would I purposely trash someone's id? No. It's a despicable thing to do. Worse than stealing $200.

Oh, recently my daughter lost her wallet while shopping. Someone found it and dropped it in a postal box. You know they'll deliver it free in the U.S., right? Not at all a burden to return. She got it back two days later, cash inside. Not much, but still there.

8:16 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger nk said...

I absolutely agree that people should keep their hands off the property of others.

But that does not mean that the fiance should leave her. The worst woman to the whole rest of the world could be the best woman in the world for him. For that reason he should not be asking anybody's advice -- not his father's, not his mother's, not his brothers' and certainly not some stranger's.

8:53 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger John Maguire said...

I just ended a marriage to a very very dishonest woman. All the signs were there, and I married her anyway. You make an emotional commitment to someone in your heart, it's hard to revise. That's why the honest sometimes marry the dishonest.

You know, most really dishonest people are fooling themselves first. When they say "Everyone does it" they believe that--and they believe they are just being realistic when they steal...or do whatever they do.

If a person has not accepted the responsibility of doing what it takes to have a clear conscience, you cannot talk them into it. It's an inside job to accept that responsibility.

And these people want to get married. They don't look at themselves in the mirror and say, "I'm morally defective, I shouldn't marry." They say, "Why shouldn't I get married like anyone else?" And they have an advantage over us non-sociopaths: they get away with a lot because they are paying attention to what they can get away with while others around are paying attention, some of the time, to their consciences.

I paid for this marriage decision with three and a half years of pain. And regret that at my advanced age (over 55) I did something that stupid and wasted that much time.

(Note to previous poster, NK: Your post implies that morality is situational only, that she can be immoral to the world at large, but good to him. This is defective moral thinking: children and prostitutes and crooks think this way. You are a good example of the kind of morality-blindness we are talking about on this thread. )

9:08 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger K-Man said...

Here's something else to think about. The lost wallet could be a police sting.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been leaving backpacks, purses, shopping bags, and wallets with cash on subway platforms and then arresting people who picked up these items for petit larceny. This was called Operation Lucky Bag, and news organizations publicized it in 2006. Google this if you don't believe me. Supposedly, to be arrested, the person taking the property had to walk past a subway cop without reporting finding the goods. Right.

Posters on other forums have said that cops in other cities have had variations of the program as well.

Though a Brooklyn judge knocked down the program in early 2007, the NYPD has continued the program in public places—and upped the ante by including credit cards in the "lost" property, which makes taking it grand larceny, a felony. However, the charge is (apparently) often now "suspicious behavior".

Now, suppose your girlfriend picks up a wallet and gets busted...

9:34 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger marion said...

You know, it would be nice if we had perfect beings on earth who could determine morality and pass moral judgments for us. We don't. Which means that it's up to the flawed humans. Yes, I do judge her, as others have judged me when I've screwed up. At some point, morality involves judgment. Sometimes it's judgment by a judge and a jury. Sometimes it's judgment by your peers. The alternative is giving up on having any moral structure at all. Take a look at societies in which that has happened. They aren't pretty. While I admit that judgment must be tempered with a full awareness of context and with mercy when appropriate, this isn't a case of someone being forced into a bad situation. This is a case of a well-fed woman with shelter and friends, living in the First World, who wants more than she has.

I've been the subject of a wallet theft. In this day and age, anger over the wallet theft rapidly morphs into the fear of identity theft. Not to mention the fact that she is using money that was earned by someone else in order to make her life slightly easier. This is not a starving child or homeless adult. $300 out of nowhere would make my life easier too, but that doesn't justify me appropriating it from someone else.

The worst woman to the whole rest of the world could be the best woman in the world for him.

How you behave toward everyone else and how you behave toward your romantic partner are not exclusive of each other, however much those in lust or love may wish it to be so. She doesn't become a different person when she's with him than she is with everyone else. Oh, sure, in the initial stages of a relationship, people are typically on their best behavior. And people certainly can be inspired to change for the better by love. But if that change doesn't show up in general as the relationship progresses, hoping for it to occur is generally fruitless. The world is full of the corpses of marriages that were founded on the idea that "Well, he/she is awful to everyone else in the world, but he/she won't act that way with ME!" Doesn't work that way. How your significant other treats other people in general is a KEY indicator as to how she or he will treat you over the years.

What this guy now knows about his girlfriend is that she's perfectly happy to do something immoral if she's not going to be found out, that she won't reconsider that when asked to do so, and that she apparently feels disinclined to display empathy for others. Is that really someone to whom you want to be married? How's she going to react if the two of you have an enormous fight and she heads off to a conference in a far-away state with the cute guy from Purchasing who's been flirting with her?

9:59 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Darleen said...


the NYPD sting goes over the line into entrapment. Unlike the link I gave above to the Thousand Oaks operation of having an unlocked car with presents on the backseat where a thief had to actually get inside someone's car to get them, that NY operation doesn't take into account people who would pick up the abandoned purse/wallet with the intent to take it to the cops.

and for the few here sniffing about "self righteousness", I'm not judging the girlfriend as a human being, I'm judging her behavior in this instance AND since the boyfriend finds it bothersome enough to ask "should I dump her" then yes, he should. It [rightfully] bothers him and he should follow his own conscience. She may love puppies, adore little children, be a gourmet cook and a wildwoman in the sack but she engages in opportunistic behavior at someone else's expense.

10:21 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


I agree that the NYPD sting sounds like entrapment, some people have an inherent distrust of cops and might be afraid to approach one initially but would be willing to mail the contents back to someone.


Good for your kids, moral development is a sign of intelligence and adaptability; in fact these types of moral dilemmas are posed to kids during intelligence testing as a measure of those traits.

11:09 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger John Maguire said...

Everyone "needs the money." Ask any strung-out drug addict trying to rob a 7-11. He needs the money real bad. But we don't accord his moral reasoning any respect, now, do we? I think it was Kant who said that one test of morality is to ask, "What would the world be like if everyone acted the way I am about to act?" This female is a moral retard, and she will probably be a weight on this guy, at the least, and will be perhaps his nemesis at the worst. He should decamp asap. Go out the back, Jack. But many have said this already.

I interpret this couple's story as a consequence of social changes that followed our conversion to the secular religion called feminism. All too many young women I have observed are disgusting puss-balls of self-interest, and their underlying belief is something like, "Patriarchy is so bad and old-fashioned and so is that old-fashioned morality the rotten priests talk about, so I can just grab what I want if nobody's looking, that's what everybody does, that's the new morality and that's why I am so cool and advanced. Wanna hook up?"

If there is no God, in any sense, anything is permitted, anyone can be God, and who's watching, eh? Dostoevsky said that first, and there's a lot of truth in it. It's even uglier when such trash is espoused by young women. Bums me out, personally.

11:25 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Drinkwater said...

Colleagues and I found a wallet left behind in a rental car. Back at the office, we noticed it was the lady's birthday (from her DL) as we were calling her to tell her good news. She was happy enough until my colleague suggested he could take enough cash from the wallet to cover shipping it back to her (across the US). Lucky lady blew a gasket and called him a thief. Sigh. We mailed the thing to her anyway, minus the $ to pay for insured mail.

12:05 PM, January 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this: If you find something and it's possible to identify the owner, return it. If it's not possible to identify the owner, do whatever you want with it.

This should work ok if you're talking about finding a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk. What if it's ten thousand dollars in a brown paper sack? Or a million dollars in an unmarked deposit bag? Is it more likely that the million would be reported missing? Should you report that one to the police?

12:13 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, it's important to know the values and character of the people you choose to be with. Those values will affect you over and over again.

TR said: "A man that will steal for me will steal from me."

And of course the other, related maxim that too many young women don't understand: "A man that will cheat with me will undoubtedly cheat on me."

12:42 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

I said I was going to back out of the conversation but this is something I have been thinking about, so I'll step back in for just a moment....

"How about this: If you find something and it's possible to identify the owner, return it. If it's not possible to identify the owner, do whatever you want with it."

I think that is where "common sense" sets in.

(Common sense by the way, says mail the thing back to the ingrate with the receipt for the shipping in the the wallet. But as people have said what the loser does reflects on on the loser, what you do reflects on you.)

How much effort and expense should an honorable finder invest: it depends, and I think honorable people have no trouble working it out. There may be some corner cases that hard to figure out but they don't happen often.

I used to ride a bicycle to and from work and would often find change in the street (I still stop and pick up pennies when walking).

Some times the amount found amounted to several dollars a day. Almost always the evidence indicated drunks dragging the change out with their car keys and not being willing (or able) to pick it up. Correctly locating the owners is impossible.

I pocketed it, and I believe any reasonable person would do so.

If I found a very large amount (as was described above) I would expect to be required to make an effort (such as was described) to identify the owner and return it.

On the other hand, somewhere in the house (I've long forgotten where) is a wallet that I found years ago--called the owner from ID in the wallet, was satisfied that I had found the owner, asked him what he wanted to do about it. He wanted me to ship it to him at my expense. I declined, told him it was available for pickup at my address and that was the end of that.

1:16 PM, January 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The grand moralizers strutting through this comment section, much like Peacocks in heat, are hilarious!

This comment thread is a bright and shining example of how the Net and its anonymity allows people to imagine that they're something they're not.

And the transparency of it! Stunning!!

5:12 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

Look out, everybody, yachira's psychic!

5:23 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger bearing said...

My observation from this thread:

If you know you'd be willing to steal someone's stuff, it must be pretty important to you to believe that anybody else would do the same thing. Therefore you must convince yourself that anyone who says it's wrong must be a hypocrite "pretending to be pure and perfect."

Makes it easier to sleep at night.

6:25 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

Darleen: Contrast that immoral behavior with the reactions of these people to an unlocked car full of high priced goodies.

The article is no longer available.

PsgInfinity: The Slaters are giving Prudie hell for that brain cramp.

Thanks for sharing and that is good news!

Dadvocate: The receptionist at the police station immediately recognized the clip as belonging to her grandfather.

That's a bizarre story; glad it turned out well for your son.

6:29 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Maxine Weiss said...

bugs: If you found $10,000.00 lying in the street with no identification, you would, by law, have to report it to the Police.

There was a case, recently, of someone walking around with $10-15,000.00 on their person.....and the Police detained that individual for having so much cash on him. You can't carry around that much cash without suspicion of money laundering. A bank won't take it either, without notifying both the IRS and the Feds, first.

Believe it or not, cash can be traced, no matter how many times it's changed hands. It might take awhile, but there is a whole department at the FBI devoted to tracing money that's been laundered and unmarked bills.

There is a reason for the serial numbers on unmarked, and marked, bills, ya know.

6:36 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

"This comment thread is a bright and shining example of how the Net and its anonymity allows people to imagine that they're something they're not."

Yachira, this is the 2nd time you've posted saying pretty much the same thing. Need to convince yourself of something?

7:05 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Friend of USA said...

fred drinking water said,

We mailed the thing to her anyway, minus the $ to pay for insured mail.

And that - according to our panel of saints - makes you a criminal!

7:17 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Maxine Weiss said...

It has nothing to do with being saintly, or hypocracy.

Most people wouldn't take the chance for fear of being caught.

The sophisticated techniques for tracing money----hidden cameras that can easily close in on a serial number, not to mention handler. ----Huge computerized tracking machines that can scan pounds of bills in minutes....

I'd say it's a kind of arrogance to think anyone's gonna get away with anything these days.

By the way: The Boyfriend is guilty for receiving stolen property, which is absolutely a crime in most States, even when you don't know the property, or money, in question, was stolen !

7:30 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Friend of USA said...

Dr Helen said,

moral development is a sign of intelligence and adaptability; in fact these types of moral dilemmas are posed to kids during intelligence testing as a measure of those traits.

This only measures if the kid has an understanding of what is wrong and right, it is not a measurement of his actual honesty - especially when no adult is watching.

I would even go as far as saying this measures if the kids is intelligent enough to know what adults want to hear.

If IQ is directly related to honesty, then with the average IQ of North Americans ( including Canada ) being about 96, most people are not too honest nor too moral...

which is what I have observed in my 48 years on this planet.

I am not saying most people would rob a bank but most people do little " immoral" things here and there.

they are just intelligent enough to know what to say to appear honest.

You think I am wrong?

Then how do you explain that in surveys - many of them - at least half of people admit to having cheated on their spouse?

If you take into account that even in anonymous surveys some people will pretend they have never cheated - which means the actual number of cheating spouses is higher -
then this fact pretty much proves my point;

Most people are not all that honest...

8:04 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

"And that - according to our panel of saints - makes you a criminal!"

No one said that...who pays for return of a wallet or other property has not been discussed.

8:27 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger mmaier2112 said...

Yes, we're all liars about being honest... right.

The first time I recall turning in a wallet was when I was 12 or so.

Nowadays, the only thing I'd do different is find the person myself instead of giving it to the cops. I don't trust most cops further than I can throw them.

You "truth tellers" might consider that you're just greedy scum instead of trying to trash more honest folk to make yourself feel better about your scumbaggery.

(And honestly, I know that's an awful run-on sentence. And honestly, I don't care.)

And the "libertarian" crack is pathetic. Libertarian doesn't mean you're a greedy scummy person only out for yourself. And you can hardly respect others' property rights by stealing from them just cuz you know you're unlikely to be caught.

9:10 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Years ago my children found $2520 in cash in a wallet. No identification, no clue to the owner. We turned the money over to the police immediately. Why? Because it didn't belong to us. No idea who it did belong to, but that didn't matter: We knew it didn't belong to us. That's all we needed to know. Some people get the concept of honesty, and some don't. [Submitted for Bruce Small, who for some unexplicable reason can't post comments to this blog on his computer!]

10:51 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oops--inexplicable. Sorry!

10:52 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Rich Rostrom said...

Personnel managers have discovered the easiest way to find potential thief/employees: ask them if they have stolen from a previous employer. Most thieves believe "everybody does it", and that claiming otherwise is obvious hypocrisy. So they confess to minor thefts, expecting a favorable response to this "honesty".

If a potential spouse says, of theft, or other serious offense, "everybody does it" - red flag time!

I will confess to having kept found money on one occasion. It was a collection of loose paper currency blowing through an alley in Chicago. Oddly, it was not U.S. currency, it was a mixture of Korean won, Hong Kong dollars, and Chinese renminbi, worth about $65.

12:57 AM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger dienw said...

The guy should dump the thief -- without guilt.

Let's take this to another step> Suppose she was pro-abortion or had one without regrets before she met you: would you continue the relationship?

I wouldn't: if she is willing to kill her own baby out of convenience, what will stop her from having you die prematurely out of convenience/

11:09 AM, January 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to go with the "dump the girl at once" crowd. I absolutely would do that.

I would like to believe I would have the guts to go further and report her to the cops, but that's where what I am sure I should do parts company with what I am sure I have the character to do.

Funny how the thread metamorphosed from a discussion of whether one should dump a girlfriend-thief has metamorphosed into a discussion of whether she's really a thief at all. That's a no-brainer, whatever two or three thieves-at-heart here may try to tell us. Can you say "projection?" I knew you could.

"But if you find something and don't return it you are not a thief that should be punished by the law."

Bzzzz, wrong answer. Failing to return misplaced property when it's obvious who it belongs to constitutes larceny in every jurisdiction I'm familiar with. "Finder's keepers" is in fact a reasonable principle, and has some validity in law -- only after a reasonable effort to identify the original owner is unsuccessful.

11:36 AM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

and only 3 persons here ( Yachira, Joe and me ) are actually honest enough to admit we all have done or would do little imperfect acts.

No, you three have just revealed that you are potential thieves, when the risk is low enough, and that you want to think everyone else are thieves too, in order to make yourselves feel better about being criminal cowards. Nice try, but your still wrong as hell.

No one is perfect, true, but there's no justification for stealing someone elses money when you have an ID in the wallet with an address listed on it. None.

12:11 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Quick hit-and-run...

Just to clarify for the ones who can not read, can not think clearly, and apparently have no morals....

I am on record as saying that "finders-keepers" only works when it is not reasonably possible to identify the owner of found property.

I wish now to say for the record that Ia ma by no means perfect. I have done a number of morally reprehensible things, including not returning property I should have. A particular incident haunts me even today even though it happened many years ago and there are a number of perfectly valid and defensible arguments for my keeping the property in question.

But not of that changes anything--keeping found property that could be returned to its rightful owner is wrong. Pure and simple. Wrong.

In yesterday's Weird Harold (local newspaper) two citizens found a car unlocked, the engine running. Fortunately, the owner was not injured when they drove off in her car, but there is some concern for the finder's safety since she was still scrapeing the ice off the passenger-side windows as they drove off.

The paper did not say whether she was able to get to work (at the hospital, I think) on time using the bus.

12:44 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

Friend of USA (and your other two fellow travelers):

Most people make the mistake of thinking that most people are just like themselves.

Time after time, when psych majors do experiments to see if people will return lost valuables, most people do. I saw yet another of these experiments on 20/20 a couple of months ago. This is a reliable, repeated outcome.

You really are in the immoral minority.

7:23 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger Bob's Blog said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your thinking.

9:54 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

oligonicella: You know they'll deliver it free in the U.S., right?

I had no idea the Post Office would return a lost wallet, but that is cool.

bugs: How about this: If you find something and it's possible to identify the owner, return it. If it's not possible to identify the owner, do whatever you want with it.

I was thinking we should discuss the scenario when there is no obvious owner. Eric Blair found $350 and managed to return it to the owner. That is very commendable. I remember my cousin finding some cash once, but I believe it was in a wallet. I don't remember what he did with it, but I think he gave it to the police. If I found $5 or less on the ground I would probably keep it. Pennies are frequently left on the ground.

6:15 PM, January 24, 2008  
Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit said...

I lost my wallet--or rather had it stolen--since the finder made no effort to return it (and believe me, I canvassed every possible venue) just at Christmastime last year. Replacing and blocking all the lost I.D. (at that time of year) was pure hell. My one satisfaction is knowing the sorry blatherskite who kept it got no cash: I'd just put the last of it in the Salvation Army bucket.

So yes, dump the girl: she has no capacity for empathy.

But more importantly, as a flawed human bean struggling to choose the right course of action (the metaphorical "wallet return" which really--could be any tempting but wrong opportunity) I rely heavily on the people I love. My husband, friends, family, to kick me in the arse--to judge me--when I'm tempted not "to return the wallet."

This fellow will never be able to count on his girlfriend to help him live virtuously (we all need help) and he apparantly, for whatever reason) is no use to her.

2:16 AM, January 26, 2008  
Blogger Hortensia said...

It seems that we all forget that we are humans... with flaws and qualities. I was shocked that most of the posts said... dump her. If she has ethics problems she is not the only one in the world. WE ALL HAVE our flaws and we will pay in a way or another for them.
She had the TRUST to confess to her boyfriend for finding the wallet and keeping the money , not returning the ID etc... with or without thinking about the consequences of her actions. This is a quality, the quality of telling the truth ,so keep this in mind before "grabbing the stone from the ground and throw it". She needs help in decision making and in problems regarding the basics of ethics but overall she is not a bad person. I suggest that the boy friend should think twice before he dumps her and maybe the help that he will give her will make both of them becoming better human beings.
MR. GOODY TWO SHOES don't become radical in your judgement and don't let your emotions play a big part also, try to find the balance between these two and give a chance to your girlfriend and to you.

10:47 AM, January 25, 2009  
Blogger pdwalker said...

Great, she told the truth.

Which means that in her mind, she saw nothing wrong with what she did. No shame, no embarrassment.

Do people really change after they are involved in a relationship? Perhaps, but not in my experience. Yes, he could try to get her to "see the light" and explain why what she did was wrong, but...

This woman is an adult. If she is unable to see the problem with her actions at this stage of her life, it suggests she lacks even the basic empathy to understand what effect her actions will have on others. It's bad enough taking the money that someone might have needed, but she didn't even want to return the personal identification and other personal items in the wallet? Think of the anguish and amount of time it would have taken the owner to replace all those things. That's more than just cold. That's evil.

Either way, I'd still drop her, or strongly advise others that they should do so. That's not the kind of woman I'd want raising and teaching my kids, or to put it another way, that's not the kind of woman I'd want to have kids with at all.

Had she shown remorse any kind of remorse, I might not be so harsh in my opinion.

She didn't. Her own actions are more condemning than anything I could say. I'm not throwing stones, I'm turning my back and walking away.

And yes, my own flaws are many and varied, but unlike this woman, I recognize that I have them are and I actively work to overcome them.

12:05 AM, January 26, 2009  
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