Christmas arrived just about four months after Peter and I met. I knew it was probably too soon to get him anything very personal, but after thinking about it for a long while, I got him a beautiful case for his new tablet. He loved it, but didn’t get me anything in return– not even a card or something small. Does this send the message that he just isn’t into me? Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I am really worried that he won’t give me anything for this day, either. I am not materialistic, but I think a small token to show he cares, would have been appropriate if we are more than just friends. I plan to get him a card for Valentines’ Day but not a gift. The whole situation is so awkward. How do you suggest I handle it, and do you think since he didn’t get my anything, he isn’t all that interested in me?
Sign Me: Gift-less Girlfriend
Alison’s Take: People can really be mis-matched when it comes to gift giving styles. . I’ve met both men and women who don’t like to give gifts, and they don’t like to get gifts, either. Some people become so stymied about how to shop for a gift, that they literally become frozen with indecision, and end up empty-handed. But for many people (myself included), a gift is a token of affection to treasure, no matter how small it is. And giving a gift can mean anything from “thank you” to “I appreciate you” to “I love you.”
Four months really isn’t a lot of time to get to know someone, but almost everyone seems to exchange gifts at holiday time if they are dating for a while. It is a good time to show that you “care.” The fact that Peter didn’t give you a gift doesn’t mean he doesn’t see a future with you. He may just not have known what would be appropriate for that short period of time (so he just didn’t get you anything to avoid sending the wrong message). He might also be one of those people for whom getting and giving gifts is just no big deal. If Peter isn’t into you, four months is enough time to figure this out from all the things he says and does, and not just one incident.
If you feel that things are otherwise good with Peter, and you are worried about Valentine’s Day, be proactive. Tell him you hope the two of you can celebrate in a big way with a romantic dinner or something else only dating couples would do. But I wouldn’t mention giving gifts and I wouldn’t plan to give him more than a card. Meanwhile, you might ask him how he feels about gifting, in general. If you find that he just doesn’t like to give or get gifts, you will want to let him know that for you, a gift is a way to show affection, and it is important to you. If he is interested in pursuing the relationship, he will quickly realize that he will need to enhance romance by occasionally giving you a “token” of his affection. You might take a walk through the mall or down your main street and point out things you really like, so if he does decide to cough up a gift for Valentine’s Day (or another occasion) he will already know that you love books of poetry, or anything with cats on it, or whatever it is that you really like.
Actions speak louder than words. If after all this, If Valentine’s Day passes without a nice dinner, flowers or anything else from Peter, he is telling you something you need to consider: he’s not that into you. Start looking for a new boyfriend.
Tony’s Take: Although not totally distinct categories gifts, are generally given either as an obligation or as caring.
Obviously there are some people who are so oblivious to the outside world that they never even think about gifts. They fall into two categories, the absolutely brilliant and otherwise nice ones who if you remind them will actually get you a spectacular gift, and the second, larger group which doesn’t care about the world or you. Then there are people in this world who feel all gifts are obligations, that to give a gift means taking from themselves. Some people classify these people as cheapskates, but the issue lies deeper than that. The chances are that they were deprived of love and affection as children and given material things to compensate by guilty parents. For them, to give away material things is to give away love. The final group is the narcissists who think adoration is their due, and would never consider the feelings of the person giving the gift.
Gifts are like hugs. They acknowledge our existence and worth, and they make us feel warm and happy. Cards are a token, they allow us to express the same sentiment and evoke a similar feeling in cases where a gift would not be appropriate, be delayed or be too extravagant.
To have some one who is so self absorbed that they do not acknowledge you and your worth to them as a human, as a person, as a companion, as a lover, is totally unacceptable. The person is cold and will never be capable of loving you in the way that you need.
The world is big, scary and cold as it is, so why not find someone you can care for and who cares about you? By the way: Get your boyfriend to take you to a very nice Valentine’s Day dinner. Since he owes you a present, you can at least collect it as fine food. Unless your birthday is later in February or March, I’d dump him the day after Valentine’s day. Otherwise, you might do it the day after he takes you out for your birthday.