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I Love Getting Gifts!

Dear Dr. Neder,

I am 23 years old and just got my Bachelors degree from university. My boyfriend is 28 years old and doing a postdoctoral fellowship at my university. We have been dating for 7 months. (I mentioned this background to let you know that our relationship is more than a transient high school romance.)

During this time, we went through a lot: From arguing and fighting to having beautiful memories. He expresses so much love for me and has mentioned that we are in the road to marriage. Currently, our relationship is going very well and we love each other very much. But there is one thing that bothers me. About 2 months in our relationship he told me: "you'll see what type of a guy I am; I like to give presents and gifts every WEEK to my girlfriend because I love giving presents." As you see he raised my level of expectation at the beginning of the relationship and yet didn't get me much throughout the relationship. He bought me a jewelry container in the shape of a love box, a little souvenir statue from one of his trips, some chocolates souvenir from another trip, a little wish card, and has taken me to dinner in a restaurant to celebrate my acceptance to grad-school. In the last two times that we went out, we had a great time and the next day he would send me a thank you email. But that is it. This all happened in a 7 month period. He is a professor at university so I know he does not have financial hardship. He is also very mature so I can't say that he just said something without thinking. It also seemed to me that he was talking from experience with his ex-girlfriend 5 years ago.

I want you to know that I am not the type of girl who lets the guy spend all his money on me: I have paid for both of us in many occasions from restaurants to theatres.

Please don't get me wrong: I am not looking for expensive gifts, but I can't help of being bothered by what he told me and what he actually did. I am a person who enjoys little, simple things in life so even a 10$ necklace will do it for me. We were once talking about presents and I was in the middle of saying :"yes, I think you are also the type of man who like to give gifts, because I remember you once told me that...." and he suddenly interrupted me, as if he was embarrassed, and said: "yes, yes, I remember what I said, don't say anything, ....." I thought maybe he had got me a nice gift and doesn't want me to think that it was because of my reminder that he got it.
But then time showed that he hadn't got me anything. So I don't know how to explain his reaction.

Overall, I am upset that he doesn't give me presents.

I know he loves me and wants to marry me. But as a girl, I like to see an expression of his love as well. Do you think my concern is valid? Isn't it true that gifts from boyfriends are demonstrations of their love? Should I ask him about the reason? I am sort of reluctant to do so because then I'll be pushing him to get me gifts and it'll no longer be spontaneous. But how should I make him know of my concern?

Thank You,


When people start new relationships, they do everything they can think of to show their interest in the other person. For instance, they tell them they are interested, they show them they are interested by doing thoughtful things; they touch to show interest, etc. In short, they use every method they can think of to express how they feel.

Each person has a "preferred method" or "modality" of being shown this love and interest however. Some people need to hear someone say "I love you" in order to feel loved. Others need touch and closeness and still others have to be shown. It's not that those that prefer touching don't want to hear the words too, it's just that we each have a "primary modality" that makes us feel most loved. As the relationship progresses however, a person tends to revert to the modality that he or she prefers simply because it seems so direct and specific.

You are likely a "show me you love me" type of person. Your boyfriend on the other hand is likely one of the other modalities. Thus, if you were to ask him if he thinks that he expresses his love for you, he'd say, "Absolutely! Don't you remember when I [insert his last expression of love here]..."

Frankly, I'm against gift giving as a method to show love. It's tied to a financial arrangement rather than something less cold. If you really need to have money spent on you to feel that your boyfriend loves you, I'd suggest you re-think that position. If you disagree with this, I suggest you sit down with a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page. Now, list everything you've spent on him on one side, and everything he's spent on you on the other. Then, draw a balance at the bottom. If it doesn't match, (for instance, you haven't spend the same amount on him), then I'd ask you: why don't you love him as much as he loves you? How romantic!

That doesn't mean that a little gift here or there isn't a nice gesture, but why does it have to be based around money specifically? You mentioned that he's dropped you little notes here and there. Isn't that a loving expression? I'll bet he's done other things that are loving expressions too, and if you stop and think about them, you'll begin to realize just what they mean.

So, what's the answer here? Is he a liar because he didn't give you as many gifts as you expected him too? Are you a gold-digger just waiting to fill your closets with things? Neither of these is true. You both simply have different ways of expressing your love for each other.

I suggest that you talk to him and explain that you like being shown how someone feels for you. Little expressions of love and caring go a long way, and you need them regularly. Expand your acceptance of what these expressions are, and if he does something like this - even if he doesn't pay a dime for it - see it for the loving expression it is.

But, don't do this unless you're also willing to find out what makes *him* feel loved too! Ask him what things you do that make him feel close and loved by you and start working on yourself to insure he gets as much of this as he gives you.

Now that's a ledger that balances.

Best regards...

Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at dwneder@beingaman.com for answers. For more information about my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World" (volumes I & II), and other products visit: www.beingaman.com. Check out the discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beingaman.

Copyright (c) 2005, Dr. Dennis W. Neder
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