This guest article from PsychCentral was written by Nathan Feiles, LMSW
This post is about a common relationship issue: gift-giving anxiety. With the Hallmark holidays constantly expanding, men and women in any significant relationship — girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives — are all in the same boat of constantly looking for new ways to make their significant other feel special on a gift-giving occasion. But what isn’t always discussed is the anxiety that many people feel in having to generate new ideas and still have them be meaningful.
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Couples — whether in the beginning of a new relationship or in a 40-year marriage — each have their own dynamic, and some have ways of diminishing their anxieties about gift-giving. For example, one person has an agreement with her boyfriend that they don’t buy each other gifts on any day except for a birthday. While this is in some ways good and shows that the couple is on the same page, it can also create more problems. Couples in this situation often end up worrying that if they don’t do something special, even with the agreement in place, it will seem like they don’t care. So the avoided gift-giving anxiety ends up turning into a “will-it-look-like-I-don’t-care-if-I-follow-the-agreement?” anxiety.
So, what’s the solution to the gift-giving anxiety? Thankfully, there are several ways to approach this issue, and if you’re committed to seeing the option(s) you choose through, you should be able to not only quell your gift-giving anxiety, but also make your partner feel special at the same time.
Here are six suggestions:
1) Keep a list:
The most effective way to approach this issue is to be in tune with your partner. If we really pay attention throughout the year (and granted this is often harder for men), partners give plenty of clues as to what they would like. What are your partners hobbies and interests? What websites attract their attention? Do they discuss things they’ve been wanting but haven’t gotten around to buying or doing (remember not all gifts need to be tangible)? These clues often come scattered throughout the year. When they surface, write them down on a constantly growing list that you keep in a special place. It only takes about 15 seconds to write something down, and you’ve just eliminated a piece of anxiety simply by having one option.
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2) Ask your partner’s friends:
This might be an old-fashioned and a tough one to get motivated for — it risks some ego injury to admit to our partner’s friends that we don’t know the “perfect” gift. But these clues described above are often found in their friends. And with existence of Facebook, it’s easy to just drop a quick message if a phone call seems too awkward.
3) Remember the past: