It's just a sweater... or is it?
October 7, 2012 3:18 AM   Subscribe

3 months of dating and haven't determined the relationship yet. Is it too soon to give him a $40 gift?

I'm not very familiar with dating relationships. I'm in my late twenties and I've had only one serious 4-year relationship that ended a year and a half ago. My question comes from a naivete of social appropriateness and a desire to be selfless without going overboard.

About 3 months ago I started dating a guy and we've been mutually exclusive (as far as I can tell). We haven't determined the status of the relationship yet since we're still getting to know each other, but we get together about once a week for dinner or a movie or just beers on the couch and I usually spend the night at his house (I have cats he's allergic to and also a roommate).

Last night while waiting for our dinner reservation, we took an impromptu shopping trip and he asked me to help pick out clothes I think would look good on him. We didn't buy anything, but I got to know his tastes and we had fun trying things on. Today I bought him a quality sweater that I know he will like that was marked down to $40 and want to give it to him as a gift next time I see him.

I'm an introvert and not very good at verbalizing my interest and growing attachment. The closest we've come is characteristics we like about each other and I've told him I would like to continue seeing him. He continues to show interest in getting to know me through conversation and has paid for all our dates, sparing no expense. My hope is that he might recognize this gift as a return of affection.

However, I'm very nervous. He knows I'm on a tight budget and considering we haven't determined our relationship, there's a chance he's still feeling us out and may not want to continue dating, therefore a gift like this could be overkill. This is not a "strings-attached" gift, but at this early stage I'm worried he might see it as that. We're not a perfect match (he's 7 years older and a little more active and established in life), but we seem to like each other, are getting to know each other, and I want to see where this could go.

Would the gift be appropriate? Would it be better to hold off and have a serious conversation first? Or should I just go for it?

(Btw, this is my first question on the green and I hope I'm succinct yet to the point--any input is welcome and appreciated!)
posted by E3 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It could be fine. Will be fine if it's approached correctly. I'd take the following honest approach - "hey uh I don't know if this is technically appropriate or what - i suck at this pro relationship stuff - but I thought of you when I saw it and I got a good deal so I couldn't pass it up", or similar
posted by krilli at 3:24 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The sweater is fine (so long as it wasn't made this way). He's been happy with paying for dates so far. If you haven't had a conversation about your relative finances so far then it could be good to do so - but not at the same time as handing over a present.
posted by Wordshore at 3:55 AM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

I might wait. The winter holidays are less then 3 months away and the sweater will be an extra fun surprise then.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:57 AM on October 7, 2012

3 months of him paying for all dates DEFINITELY makes giving him the sweater totally appropriate in my books (after all, you didn't knit it yourself, that would be overkill for now)

especially since clothes is an area where he's expressed he'd like your input- otherwise maybe clothes would be too personal for right now and I'd suggest some other kind of gift, but really it sounds perfect.

when a guy pays for all dates, I make a point of doing stuff on my end to sort of even things out at least a little- buying small gifts, occasionally paying for simpler meals (if there's a budget concern on my end), definitely making dinner frequently (but that sounds like a stereotypical gender role for females, it might not be for you- I just do that because I love cooking and since most people love my food I consider it a good way to contribute to the dates)

give it to him with absolutely no apologies, just telling him that you thought it would like nice on him.
posted by saraindc at 4:09 AM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Giving him a sweater is a nice, thoughtful thing. Stop overthinking it.
posted by loriginedumonde at 4:12 AM on October 7, 2012 [21 favorites]

think about it - if he was agonizing over whether you guys were for real or not every time he spent $40 on the relationship, you wouldn't have made it past the first dinner!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:36 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agree. Just be sweet and casual about it. "Hey, I saw this and knew it would look great on you! " don't over think.
posted by pearlybob at 4:37 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is perfect reciprocity. If you had a platonic friend who funded all of your get togethers, by chance or largesse, this would be appropriate. Don't make it weird or stressful just because of social norms of Relationships or sex.
posted by peacrow at 5:44 AM on October 7, 2012

As a fellow, I think in his circumstances I'd find it totally appropriate. He's probably down with paying sixty dollars for a meal with drinks and a tip, yes, if not more? That establishes that the price of the sweater is in the "moderate spending" zone.

You could even qualify it with "Well, it's just a forty-dollar sweater..." in conversation if there's any chance he might believe it to be a more expensive garment. Anyhow, it's a totally normal and appropriate gift. Some ladies do seem to like getting their main squeezes sweaters, besides.
posted by mr. digits at 5:54 AM on October 7, 2012

"I saw this on sale and thought it would be perfect for you."

You're simultaneously letting him know that you're not spending a fortune you don't have on him, keeping the actual price of the gift a secret (sale could mean a wide range of prices) and telling him you were thinking of him.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:58 AM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

As a guy I would say that is appropriate.

I have been in relationships where the girl NEVER bought me anything (nor did I expect it). In my last relationship, my girlfriend bought me a nice cologne about four weeks into dating and she just casually said “I am marking my territory.” It was perfect timing and the fact that she put a lot of thought into which kind to get (Prada infusion d’homme) made it even better.

So, go for it!
posted by vkxmai at 7:31 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are over-thinking it. Next time you sleep over, go to bed a few minutes before him, undress, and then put the sweater on. When he walks in and sees you, tell him that you thought he might like this sweater. He won't be worried about your budget or what it means.
posted by myselfasme at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

IF you are sleeping with a guy your are close enough to give him store bought clothing.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

If it were me and I wanted to give the gift, I would give it -- and let his reaction be whatever it will be. If some man can't accept my expressiveness and will bale over that, I would rather know sooner than later. But I would also be very prepared to say "Dude, chill. It isn't as expensive as you think. It was on sale." And then try to change the subject ("Are you going to finish your appetizer? If not, can I have it?").
posted by Michele in California at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2012

Thank you for all your encouragement! I'm excited to give this to him and keep it simple.

myselfasme - love it
posted by E3 at 11:41 AM on October 7, 2012

Since he's paid for all dates, this is a very nice way of reciprocating. It is not too-too personal (you know, like a heart-shaped photo frame {:-0) and you've ascertained that he really will like it, so the thought (which counts) will shine through.
posted by tel3path at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2012

Next time you sleep over, go to bed a few minutes before him, undress, and then put the sweater on. When he walks in and sees you, tell him that you thought he might like this sweater. He won't be worried about your budget or what it means.

WAT. No don't do this. It's weird. Nice presentation is half the fun of a present and if you're wearing what is clearly a man's sweater, and you offer it to him randomly, not only does it seem far less thoughtful, but also borderline sketchy - used clothes are fine and all, but if someone pulled this on me I'd wonder where the sweater was from. Give him the nice new sweater, don't risk implying it belonged to an ex-boyfriend or something!
posted by slow graffiti at 12:49 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

The sweater is fine. mentioning the cost is not. never, ever talk about the price of a gift. never.
posted by dejah420 at 6:45 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

We had a date this week and I handed the sweater to him unceremoniously, wrapped in tissue in the store bag. He LOVED it. He spent the rest of the night bringing it up and thanking me and saying how no one ever buys him things and that it was so sweet of me to think of it. Booyah! Thanks again all :)
posted by E3 at 11:04 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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