Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My girlfriend gave me a gift I don’t like, what the f$%# do I do?

Gift giving in relationships can be a very controversial subject. Something that’s supposed to be thoughtful and positive can turn out to be stressful and argument-inducing. From figuring out what’s appropriate to give in the delicate, early stages of a relationship (we’ve all been there) to deciphering the specific tastes of your significant other, hopefully you can tread the upcoming gift-giving season successfully and make it to the other side.

Once, I designed a custom 2’ x 3’ flag for my boyfriend’s boat for his birthday. If someone owns a boat, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the essentials are covered and they fall into the “man who has everything” category. So, what do you get the man who has everything? Something for his boat.

Nine days after I gave the flag to him, he informed me that the shade of orange wasn’t exactly what he wanted, so he wanted to get himself a new one.
Gifts are not the main priority in our relationship, and they shouldn’t be in any relationship. But it wasn’t about the gift. I wanted him to see the love in the gift I gave him. Sure, maybe the coloring was a little different than what he envisioned. But he was seeing it for the object itself, not what it really was: a demonstration of my love for him.

Since men are generally more utilitarian than women and women generally place more importance on gift giving, I wanted to give some advice for the upcoming holiday season. If you don't like a gift from your girlfriend:

10. Don’t place more importance on the object than her feelings.

9. Accept the gift with appreciation. That's all she wants from you. She wants you to be happy.

8. If you do reject her gift, don’t start by pointing out what’s wrong with it. It will only demotivate and hurt her—instead, try to start with what you do like about it.

7. And be ready for some tears.

6. Because being forthright likely won’t be viewed as you voicing your preferences assertively. Sometimes we need to swallow unfiltered thoughts and just move on.

5. Even if she appears to take a rejection well at the time, she may grow to resent your unguarded words. If you can live with that happening, that's great. If not, consider the less confrontational route.1

4. The fact that she did something for you is testament to how much she cares. Telling her you don’t like it will make her feel like you don’t appreciate what she did, making you come across as ungrateful and self-centered.

3. Not telling her that you don't like it doesn't make you dishonest. Rather, it will reflect the care and love that you are receiving from her.

2. Sometimes we have to do things we don't really want to do when we’re in a relationship. We have to do some of these things because they make the other person happy. Sometimes we have to sacrifice getting exactly what we want (particularly when the other person is ponying up the cash, and even more so if it can’t be returned).

1. If receiving a gift you like is that important to you, consider suggesting giving experiences to each other in lieu of gifts. Paying for a nice meal or going on a trip together can be a good alternative to physical objects.

Have you ever rejected a gift from a significant other? How did it go?

1 There are exceptions—if it’s easily remedied, such as the wrong size, then by all means speak up.

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