Hi Alison & Tony: My girlfriend and I have been dating for only about 4 months and we have a long distance relationship, I want this to be a serious relationship, so for the holidays I am going to her home state in the Midwest from my home back east to be with her for a couple of days. I have bought her gifts before this, but now with Christmas coming, I took your advice from another one of your Q&A’s and broached the subject of gifts and should we exchange them? she said she couldn’t afford it. That would have been ok (I am still bringing her a few little things to put under the tree) until she told me that she’s doing Secret Santa for a co-worker and sending a care package to a friend who is down in the dumps. So my question is: am I being selfish or greedy to resent the fact that she can manage to buy gifts for other people, but nothing for me? After all, I’m also making the effort in time and expense to be with her for the holidays. Don’t I deserve some recognition, even if it is just from the Dollar Store? Am I wrong to feel this way? Call me “Sad Samuel”
Tony’s Take: Samuel, it is the holiday season and one must in the spirit of giving give her the chance to prove how valuable you are to her.
But at the end of this trip, you have had a fabulous time and she has shown nothing but love and affection then the small material things do not count.
You are getting out in front of things because you do not know as of yet what small nice thing she intends to be her hearts’ present to you — the sharing of herself and perhaps some small token.
A company is a small community and being part of that community she has to do the secret Santa thing or else be ostracised by the most important part of her daily life since she is not currently living with you. Likewise, sending a small present to a friend of hers who she has known perhaps ten times as long as you and who perhaps has been ten times as supportive than you have been is something she has to do in order to be a good friend.
You are in a relatively new relationship and it sounds like you make more money than she does therefore whatever you do must be proportionally larger in scope than anything she does and vice versa it is the small gifts and expressions of gratitude which should fill you with joy.
This is not a possessions race at this time of year. I admit that you feel very anxious about how much she really cares for you and are thus somewhat jealous of anyone else to whom she shows a physical token of affection but it is insecurity on your part.
Alison’s Take: I can see why you’d feel slighted, but there’s more to consider before you stay “sad” about this:
Your girlfriend knows that you are spending time, money, and effort to visit her and that you have already given her gifts in the past. She should reciprocate with a token of affection to you, even if it’s just cookies she has baked for you to take home.
This might still happen. However, if she offers nothing, she is self-absorbed to the point where I’d look more carefully at whether or not you want the relationship to flourish.
I can see you are feeling anxious. The relationship is less than 6 months old. You’re wondering whether it will last and if she’s into you.
Obviously, gifts say ” I care about you” and they reassure you that she cares.
To be fair, a Secret Santa gift is an obligation that everyone who works in an office must participate in.
We don’t know the extent of her relationship with her friend, but it could be that this is also an obligation gift for an dear old friend.
I assume, you have already obligated yourself and have your ticket, so you should go, but keep your expectations in check.
Also, keep your eyes open while you are with her and see how she behaves towards others as well as towards you.
This is a good opportunity to discover whether or not there is a reason to return (you know what I mean).