Couple Gift Exchange, Tricky to Faux Pas Ridden

When new couples or other political power keg relationships start exchanging gifts, could be time to batten down the hatches. Figuring out what that gift is saying you’re saying, and how much so.      — BadWitch

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Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I’ve been hanging out for two months with a woman I just started calling my girlfriend. Our birthdays happen to be in the same week, so we exchanged presents. Oops. Mine was under $40, and she spent like at least $150. What do think she expects of me? Should I feel guilty?Less Gifted


Dear Less Gifted,

Yikes. Sticky one! I find even with the hubster we can still have a difference of opinion about a gift’s “worth” — but by now, ours have everything to do with price (HA!), because we know when we give, we really mean it (having nothing to do with price). But unlike you, with so many anniversaries under our belt, any possible faux pas is not fraught with break up potential, quasi-political sentiment anymore. With your relationship still early in its development, now is the best time to set some boundaries and expectations together. Do I sound like I’ve been married a long time? Maybe, but really I recommend this course of action because I have known people who feel like they have to spend the big bucks to buy relationships and affection they don’t really feel worthy of. So that makes my dry recommendation more about a respectful relationship.

Make sure you are having the same relationship at the same time by chatting out: 1) what you want at this stage of your life from a relationship with her; and 2) set some pricing comfort levels for gifts for your first year (TBD if there is a second year, and so on). If you have this conversation properly and aren’t silly or completely freaked out about having this conversation properly, you two can have a far more stress-a-bit-less time and get back to the fun connection that brought you along to this stage. Gifts aren’t contracts, but budgets and past expectations sure seem like they are. When it comes to the gift giving, make sure to explicitly spell out your budgetary restraints/cheapness or extravagance level (hey!, all are legit, I’m just saying be clear), and that if she lets you work your way up the spending scale, you’re sure your nicer gifts will actually mean that much more to her. Guilt? Personally, I never feel guilty over what others spend or don’t spend on me — that’s their business — mine is to appreciate and accept what is given freely to me.

Nothing is gratis in life,



Dear Less Gifted,

Price tag is not the defining characteristic of what makes a great, memorable gift and what doesn’t. Sure, if you spent $40 on a towel set (impersonal) yes, she may be pissed. I would be. Hell, my parents or my boss might give the gift of towels. Now, bed sheets with color coordinated lingerie and homemade coupons offering sexual fantasies on request…that’s a gift.

The cost does not out way the thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness trumps all. I mean, haven’t you seen The Gift of the Magi.

So, your girl spent the bucks on you. You know she’s a keeper. If you feel like your gift was woefully un-thoughtful and likely giving the impression that you don’t care, you need an add-on. What’s an add-on? A special “Our Birthday” surprise. If you’ve got the dough, think weekend at swank hotel with champagne, chocolates and spa treatments. A get-away or holiday to a special bed and breakfast.

If you don’t have that kind of bank, think well-prepared three-course meal with the lingerie and coupons.  I once created a board game (Score!) made a three course meal that finished with a lemon cake topped with rose petals. Didn’t actually have to spend much but time and effort. It remained a highlight of the relationship for ten years.

In other words, show up for her. Thoughtfulness does not just mean pricey. It means, ‘I thought about you, our relationship and what I could give you to enhance your life and make you smile.’

It’s not about guilt, which will do nothing for you, her or your relationship. Was she excited by the gift or did she look disappointed? If she looked disappointed know that the gift is not the sum total of your relationship. It is an indicator, however, so if you indicated slightly less feelings than you really want to, step up and take another swing at it. Cute, romantic and thoughtful are not about the price tag. Why do you think a stuffed animal, roses and a box of heart shaped chocolates made such a claim on Valentine’s Day.

Stop the self-flagellating and do something about it. If you still aren’t sure what to do, call her best friend and ask. You’ll get points from the friend for being thoughtful enough to check in with her to find your girlfriend something special. And, a good word from the friend is like, well, gold.

Give from the heart,



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One response to “Couple Gift Exchange, Tricky to Faux Pas Ridden

  1. Pingback: Couple Gift Exchange, Tricky to Faux Pas Ridden « Good Witch / Bad …

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