Help with inconsiderate gifts
May 4, 2012 10:29 AM Subscribe
How to handle well-intended but inconsiderate and unwanted gifts?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (76 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I realise this is a rather petty problem but it's been ongoing for the past few years and I'm really frustrated. My partner and I have been together for 4 years, don't live together but spend lots of time togeher (weekends and some weekday nights. We're in our 30s). Birthdays and Christmas have become problematic because of gifts. Nearly every occasion he gives me a gift, it is something I openly do not want or need.
A couple examples: once he gave me a special edition of a book that we'd discussed at length--a book that I said I absolutely hated. When I got the gift I accepted it graciously and thanked him. This is what I would normally do. Because he is my partner and I want an honest relationship with, him, I decided to tell him the truth and told him as nicely and tactfully as I could that I didn't like that book but it was a nice edition. He was devastated. He cried and said he couldn't do anything right and then I had to make him feel better about the situation. I did not bully him, I was not mean about it as I am sensitive to how he'll respond (and why I just acted like I liked it initially) but this is a typical response from him. Another time he gave me a DVD because he said he knew I liked it so much and had wanted to see it. It was a film I had already seen, did not like, and had told him so at the time. I also have no TV or DVD player. Again, I mentioned this to him and he was devastated. There are a lot of examples of this but I feel like he isn't paying attention to me and not getting me anything remotely appropriate.
At Christmas I helped him pick out a gift for his mom and saw these perfect necklaces and showed them to him. He started crying, said he should have got me one of those for Christmas. Again, I didn't do anything to incite this. He is very melodramatic. I said it wasn't a big deal and maybe it would be good for my Birthday.
Well, it was my Birthday last week. About a month ago he asked me what I wanted. I was surprised because I thought he had this taken care of, but okay, he forgot. I told him that I sincerely did not want anything and he could take me out for supper instead. I know sometimes people say they don't want gifts when they do but I meant it. I am so tired of getting gifts that just make me feel like my boyrfriend isn't paying any attention to who I am, tired of pretending to like things or being honest and having to reassure him and I'd really rather just not go through the whole thing. He was insistent, said he wanted to get me something I could use and asked for a list. I don't make much money, he makes a lot more than me, and he said he knew this and wanted to do something for me. That seemed sweet and sensible so I thanked him and actually took the time to make a list, which I have never done before. I took the time to find links for the best deals to a few things that I really need and will buy anyway when I have the money, told him sizes and said I would really appreciate one item (one rather than the whole list). I would never give someone a list but he asked for one and said this was what he wanted to do. I felt good about this.
What he gave me for my birthday was a knockoff of a Hitachi Magic Wand. I already have a magic wand and do not want or need another one, particularly a knockoff. He knows I have one. He said he got me another one because it seemed like mine was on its way out (it isn't, it is fine, and if it does break I would look into replacing it then). He also got me a bottle of vanilla extract because I had listed "baking extracts & supplies". Vanilla is the one kind of extract I already have. That was it. The list was entirely ignored aside from that one small item (and to me, if someone had that on a list, I would have made up a package of extracts and colorings and maybe cupcake papers or things--one bottle of extract is bizarre to me but whatever). I don;t know why he asked for a list and I went to the trouble of making one if he was just going to ignore it.
I am beyond frustrated. On the one hand, they are just gifts and he chose to give them and I have no right to question them. But then--he is my boyfriend. He keeps getting me thoughtless and useless gifts and it's a waste of money and makes me feel like he isn't considering me at all. What can I do here? I don't know how to bring this up anymore without him crying and then I need to make him feel better about something that I felt bad about (and I never end up being made to feel better). I don't want this to continue for the rest of our lives.
Can anyone please give me any perspective, insight or advice here?
If I'm being ridiculous and just need to suck it up then I'll accept that but it's getting to where the situation is making me angry. It's not because I want better presents but because his gifts make me feel like I'm not being considered, he isn't paying attention or even trying. I always put a lot of thought into his gifts to get him things I know he will like or use.