Breakup Birthday Bash
September 28, 2007 6:35 PM   Subscribe

What do I buy my girlfriend that I'm not dating for her birthday?

We've been dating for 2 years, but recently things have taken a turn downwards. We've been talking it through (she wants to stay together, I don't), and things will more than likely be completely over next week. But in the meantime, it's her birthday. I still consider he someone I would like to maintain some sort of friendship with, but I don't want to get her something that says 'let's be together' when that's not the case.

Bonus Question: My mom wants to know what she should get her (if anything) as well...
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My advice is don't get her anything. Take her out to dinner or do something (NOT ROMANTIC) nice for her. If you do wind up splitting up, whatever you get her isn't going to say "friend" it's going to say "the last thing my boyfriend ever gave me" and that's just not going to be a good.

The people who don't want to stay in the relationship are often the ones who hope that there can be some sort of friendship that comes out of things, but it's going to be her call how she feels once things are well and truly over. This whole week probably sucks for her and her birthday is going to be sort of sucky. If a break-up is inevitable, the best thing you could do is get it over with as soon as possible so she can spend the day with her friends or someone who is not you and get on with her life.

Tell your mom no, don't get her anything or send a card. If there's any possibility of misunderstanding, that will exacerbate it. If they want to stay friends after your breakup, that's their prerogative.
posted by jessamyn at 6:41 PM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

This is a tough one, because giving her anything romantic might inflame her hopes that you will stay together. But you are right that you should get her something.

Does she have an interest or hobby that you could target? Does she love running or knitting or cooking or gaming - anything that someone who knows her, but does not necessarily love her in a romantic way, could acknowledge? That's the route I would take.

Also, even though your mother is, well, YOUR mother, I think that it is lovely if she gives a gift to your girlfriend-that-you-are-not-dating. She should give a gift from the heart without regard to the situation, IMO. This is very sweet, by the way.

Good luck.
posted by frumious bandersnatch at 6:46 PM on September 28, 2007

Nothing says "I'm not really interested in you" like a fruit basket.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:53 PM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

A card with a gift certificate to something practical. Your mom should not get her anything this year UNLESS there are good friends outside of your relationship and are likely to remain so post breakup.
posted by edgeways at 7:07 PM on September 28, 2007

Second the bandersnatch - give your mom honest advice about what gift to get, it's cool that she's kicking one in! Their relationship doesn't exist solely through your proxy, right?

As for you: give her something amazing. She'll chuck it when you dump her but that'll only deepen the eventual Tori-Amos-soundtracked goddamn diary entries.
posted by waxbanks at 7:21 PM on September 28, 2007

A card with a gift certificate to something practical.

No. All wrong. Mine as well just slap her in the face. Really, if you already know you're going to break up with her, you just should do it now, so she can go out and get drunk on her birthday, and hopefully meet some cute guy to make out with. If Hallmark makes a "I'm Going To Stop Stringing You Along: Happy Birthday!" card, that might be appropriate.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 PM on September 28, 2007 [10 favorites]

I agree with jessamyn - giving her a birthday gift with your break-up looming will only make her feel worse in the long run. And your mother should most definitely stay out of this.
posted by phoenixc at 7:33 PM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by Snoogylips at 7:46 PM on September 28, 2007

My one ex gave me Play-Doh and a Monkees CD for my birthday right before breaking up with me.

Needless to say, I've never liked the Monkees, before or after.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:38 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not that I'm suggesting you do this because I don't think my ex did this on purpose, but my boyfriend of four years and I broke up about a month after my birthday. Part of his gift was a hanging planter (with seeds and soil) that I can't plant until the spring, and my birthday is at the end of the summer. As things started to rapidly go south, I thought about how when it was time to plant it, I would be in a much different place and could look back with clarity on a bad time. But to actually give it with the intent that it's symbol of new beginnings or whatever would be a BAD idea.
posted by Airhen at 8:40 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

From what you've written, it seems clear to me that you're already out of this relationship, emotionally and mentally at least. At this point, the best thing I think you could do for her is to break it off completely, immediately, and graciously as possible.

I don't know why you'd prolong it like that (I mean, is there any chance she could talk you into staying together?), but that's not the point of your question, so...

If you get her something she likes, even if it's not traditionally romantic, she could interpret it as "hope."

If you get her something mediocre, it could be almost demeaning in a way...well, I guess it's open to interpretation. But personally I'd steer clear of getting any sort of gift, of any kind.

I would only advise your mom to get her a gift if they have some sort of relationship that has nothing to do with you. She shouldn't get her a present as a formality, or because she's her son's (soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend. But if they ever talk or something on their own time, when you're not around, then sure...she could get her something.
posted by Squee at 8:52 PM on September 28, 2007

Oh, I forgot to mention...

You said you'd like to stay friends, which is fine. But if she wants to stay together, I have a feeling that's not going to be possible for her, for a while. I'd advise a couple months of no contact between you guys.

I realize you probably don't want to be a jerk and not get her a gift, but unfortunately you're kind of automatically in the role of "bad guy" for breaking up with her right now, anyway.

If she still wants to be friends with you once she gets over you, I'm sure she will get over the fact that you didn't get her a present, too.
posted by Squee at 9:01 PM on September 28, 2007

Give her something thoughtful but not romantic: a book she might like, a game if she's in to games, something relating to a hobby, food, music, etc.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:50 PM on September 28, 2007

Ugh. Getting her a gift KNOWING you're probably going to end it after her birthday and having to put careful thought into what said gift might say to her is more cruel than breaking up with her right now, regardless of her birthday. Because you know what? She's going to analyze the crap out of it afterward (well, if she's anything like me, and she might not be), and every conclusion is going to hurt. "But I still want to be friends" isn't going to soften the blow after she's decided you planned the whole thing. Better to break up with her now. You could still get her a birthday present or do something fun with her later if you're on good terms at that point (and as long as she understands that anything you do together is not an indication that you're having second thoughts).
posted by katillathehun at 10:45 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I recommend ending it ON her birthday, thats a great present. I also like the idea of finding some guy for her to make out with.

Good luck staying friends!!
posted by sir_rubixalot at 1:03 AM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

a cheap cast iron pan.

she'll feel special, until it rusts from mistreatment... like your love... >P
posted by emptyinside at 1:51 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't get her anything. That'll give her a reason to hate you adn perhaps get over you quicker. If you get her something, especially something thoughtful, that'll confuse the hell outta her. "Why was he so thoughtful, yet wanted to break up with me?! Maybe deep down, he does care?"

Tell your mom not to get her anything.

Break up with her. If it's over, it's over.

Don't expect her to be your friend. Give her space and don't call her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:46 AM on September 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

As always, jessamyn is right.
posted by languagehat at 7:42 AM on September 29, 2007

If I were in your girlfriend's position (and I've been in similar situations indeed), and you got me this present, I might believe you were trying to assuage your guilt, and make yourself feel better about dumping me. Like you had "done me right" and didn't have to feel as bad for hurting me, because you had rewarded me materially on my birthday. I'm not saying she will feel like this, but it's a possibility.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:42 PM on September 29, 2007

Give her a blank slate. (No, I'm serious. A friend of mine got this from an ex, and it was really meaningful to her, though it surely helped that she got it six months after a breakup that was largely mutual.)
posted by salvia at 8:49 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm not with the "no gift" crowd. I think gifts can reflect your knowledge of her and that you want her to have a good life without being romantic.
posted by salvia at 9:10 PM on September 29, 2007

I'm also with the don't get anything. I know any item I've gotten from an ex during an emotional time I've generally had to get rid of, even if I liked it or it was really useful. You don't want to use the coffeemaker every day and think of an ex. (Not the exact case, but close enough.)
posted by ejaned8 at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2007

I suppose a copy of "He's Just Not That Into You" might be pushing it? But seriously, that joke popped into my head because I was going to recommend a book. A book is a good, non-committal kind of gift (as long as it's not a "meaningful" book). Go with one of the hot new non-fiction offerings.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 5:22 PM on October 1, 2007

While I think it's sweet that you do want to be friends and get her a gift, don't do it. I know because I had a boyfriend break up with me ON my birthday, even after making dinner reservations and everything, because he just didn't want to string me along any further. It hurt like hell and I was furious, but you know what? It was a wakeup call that I needed to move on. I didn't try to keep the relationship alive or hope that he would give it another shot. I got the message loud and clear.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 1:22 PM on October 2, 2007

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