Gift Giving - to strengthen your relationship


Are you clueless or stressed out with gift giving? Relax, I'm going to make it easy.


It’s gift giving time. Are you feeling clueless or stressed over what to give your lover? Don’t want to become one of those crazed last minute shoppers?

Or worse yet might be the fear of hearing a polite, less than enthusiastic ‘thank you.’ Have your previous gifts taken up residence in the back of a drawer or the corner of a closet, never to be worn or used?

I’m going to make it easy for you.

But first, let me share some basics of gift giving:

1) Buy your partner something that they want; not something that you want them to have. (Can’t tell you how many times my male clients have shared ‘I bought her sexy lingerie and it’s stuffed in the back of her drawer. Why doesn’t she wear it?’ Answer: ‘Because she wanted a bathrobe.’)

2) Once you’ve given the gift, you no longer have any rights to it. That means you need to stifle any comments such as: ‘When are you going to wear that sexy teddy/Broncos sweatshirt?’ ‘I never see you using that waffle maker/new car vacuum.’ ‘I thought you wanted that book on firm abs that I bought?’

That gift now belongs to your partner and what they do or don’t do with it is up to them.

3) Not to up the stress level, but there’s another aspect of gift giving that should be mentioned –‘Bad gifts’– for lack of a better term. Gifts can strengthen a relationship (more later), but they can also threaten a relationship.

When a gift is judged as ‘bad’ (not what was wanted, not appropriate for the situation, in poor taste…), women tend to interpret that as a signal that the relationship is not strong. ‘I thought he knew me better.’ ‘He knows I hate orange.’ ‘Why did he get me the same thing he bought his mother?’ In other words, a ‘kindred spirit’ does not give a bad gift.

How men and women deal with the bad gift issue brings up a gender difference: Women are more often motivated to strengthen the relationship. In contrast, when men don’t like their partner’s choice of a gift, by extension, they like their partner less.

Relationship longevity

This may seem like common sense, though don’t we know that when love or lust are running the show, sometimes common sense is nowhere to be found? You might be head over heals in love with your new partner, but if you’ve been dating for just a few weeks, expensive jewelry or the iPhone 4 is not an appropriate gift. A gift that is overly expensive will create discomfort, even though it may not be a strain on your budget.

Early dating gift suggestions are: wine, flowers, his favorite gourmet jam, Godiva for her, a book, CD or DVD. Keep it simple.

Similarly, the type of relationship path that you and your partner have chosen is to be considered. Are you exclusive? Polyamorous? Friends with benefits? In a non-monogamous relationship, refrain from gifts that shout ‘You’re my one and only.’ Or ‘Til death do us part.’

Consider ‘The Five Love Languages’

In ‘The Five Love Languages’ Gary Chapman shares about the various ways in which we feel loved. When it comes to giving and showing love, be aware of what matters to your partner. It may be different from how you are programmed to show love, or how you feel loved by another.

The Love Languages are:

1) Words of Affirmation – You may want to write a love poem for your partner, or present her/him with a book of poetry in which you have bookmarked a favorite. Or simply write words of affirmation as decoration on the wrapping paper of her/his gift.

2) Quality Time – Give the gift of a shared experience (more below). Or suggest that you both block out one entire day each month to focus on each other. Shut out the world and have some fun.

3) Receiving Gifts – There’s lots of suggestions as you read on.

4) Acts of Service –Would your lover like a home-cooked meal of their choosing, a housekeeper for a day? Think ‘pampering’ and acts that only you could provide.

5) Physical Touch – Give a gift certificate for a professional massage, rolfing session, cranial sacral work, or maybe Thai massage. Or offer a sensual or sexual massage with candles, incense, music

Be practical…or not…

Is your partner currently very practical or budget-minded? If so, presenting a gift that s/he would routinely purchase for themself might be a good idea. Possibly a gift basket or *stocking brimming with toiletries, office supplies, car wash items… You get the picture.

Tread carefully with this one.

*I’m thinking: the red kind of stocking that hangs by the fire. But men, if stuffing a sexy black silk stocking is your vision – go for it!

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