My fiancée tells me she feels lucky that our first Christmas as an engaged couple is also our first Christmas together. This means that she doesn’t have to try to interpret where our relationship stands based on how the holidays go down. She already knows that I want to be with her for the rest of my life.
For most women in a relationship, Christmas can be riddled with potential clues that signify how serious your boyfriend wants your relationship to be. Is he willing to meet your family? Does he want you to meet his? But the question that is often agonized over the most is: What does his Christmas gift really mean?
This can be confusing, and women often misinterpret their beau’s gift. Some women look at jewelry as a sign of pending nuptials, while others receive a gift card and assume that he simply doesn’t care. But these notions are not necessarily correct.
To get some clarity, I asked men for their thoughts on five popular Christmas gift categories. Does expensive jewelry always mean lasting commitment? Does a boyfriend who is more than happy to agree to a no-gift policy really not care? These guys tell it like it is.
It’s common for women to assume that if your boyfriend buys you tickets to an event that they must want to be serious. They are showing a future commitment towards spending time with you, and guys agree.
“It may seem a bit unimaginative, but buying tickets can definitely make for a meaningful gift” says Josh, who has been with his girlfriend for over a year. “Earlier in our relationship, I gave my girlfriend tickets to see her favorite musician in Chicago for her birthday. At the time, the concert was several months down the road, but in a way, I think this gift was also a signal that this relationship is important to me. I knew it would last and wanted the show to be something for us to look forward to together.”
These guys also agree that future things are even more significant if it is something that interests you especially, not him. “Purchasing tickets to an event that doesn't necessarily top your interests list shows that you are willing to give her interests an equal shot compared to your own established interests,” says Bobby. Adam agrees, “It would be a selfish gift to buy her tickets to the ‘big game’ when she’s not into sports. It should be something she’s interested in if it’s going to be called a ‘gift.’”
According to Nick, planning for a future experience together shows that he “wants to experience something that brings you a lot of joy” and Wes adds that it “expresses that he wants to give you a great experience” instead of just possessions.
So, yeah, men agree that an IOU for a future date means his feelings for you are pretty solid.
Many women view jewelry as one of the most significant gifts that can be given in a relationship. However, the guys who I interviewed pointed out that sparkly things don’t necessarily equate to lasting love and commitment.
“If I had a lot of capital, I would buy her an expensive necklace just because,” says Jimmy, who recently got engaged. “I wouldn’t necessarily think the next thing had to be an engagement ring.” According to Nick, it could even mean an engagement is far in the future. “If I were to buy a diamond necklace, it would mean it was a few years before I could afford a diamond ring.”
That being said, the guys agree that it would be nice for a guy to give some sort of explanation with his gift of jewelry. “The night should end with her knowing 'why' she received what she did,” says Bobby,” and not simply walk away with a new piece of jewelry.”
Blame these unrealistic expectations on all the jewelry advertisements on television during the holiday season, not on your boyfriend.
After thirty years of marriage, my dad’s only guideline for purchasing a Christmas gift for my mother is to “never buy anything that needs to be plugged in,” and many women might agree that something practical does not spell romance. It’s true that men generally do not get favorable responses from their girlfriends if they get them a cleaning appliance. But should this type of gift always be dismissed as thoughtless? Most men don’t think so.
“I do think it makes sense in certain situations,” says Bobby. “Just as I would appreciate a new grill, or something similar, I think a woman could equally enjoy a new appliance she has had her eye on. I think this also comes with a certain level of comfort in the relationship.”
Jimmy agrees. He says “I think that I would get her a vacuum cleaner, but mainly because my fiancé is extremely neat, but if I were to do that it would be very high end. Not that she has to clean, but we are at the points where gifts are based on needs.”
In a guy’s mind, useful things can be really romantic because it shows that he knows you and your interests and understands your needs.
A letter or homemade gift might seem cheap, but when it comes from men whose love language is words of affirmation, a thoughtful and handcrafted gift may be an indication that he is serious about the relationship.
“Last Christmas I was in a new relationship and, while I didn't spend a ton of money on the gift I gave her, I did write a nice note in my girlfriend's card,” Josh says. “At the end of the day, clothes will go out of style, just as cool electronics and gadgets will become outdated. I think for many of us, there are still few gifts more cherished than a thoughtful note from a friend, family member or loved one.”
“A letter will also show you that he really cares, even if words of affirmation isn’t your love language,” Rob says. “It still shows that he is making an effort to express his feelings for you in the best way that he knows how.”
But, if you are someone whose love language is “gift giving” a “priceless” heartfelt gift, like a love letter, should be an added bonus to a inexpensive Christmas gift if money is tight. Ted explains that something like a letter shouldn’t be the only gift a girlfriend receives for Christmas. “A letter is an acceptable gift as long as it’s not the only gift,” Ted says. “But if it’s well thought out and comes from the heart, it could be a nice finishing touch on a gift. But it has to be meaningful, so it’s probably not OK if it’s written in crayon.”
If you and your guy agree not to exchange gifts this year (and he actually follows through with it) it can feel like maybe he doesn’t care enough...even if you agreed to it in the first place! (This may sound confusing to some, but I know enough women who have been through this!) If your guy happily agrees to no gift-giving this year it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t care.
Some guys really struggle to find meaning in gift giving, especially if he is a Quality Time guy. “Gifts aren't a love language of mine—so anyone who tried to read too much into my gifts would be in trouble,” Rob explains.
But, that’s not to say not trying at all is acceptable. The guys I asked agree that if your guy knows gifts are something that makes you feel loved, he should make the effort.
“Every Christmas you should definitely treat her well,” Jimmy says. “Any chance you get to show your significant other how much you care for them you should take. Even if it is small, you have to do it.”
“I don't think I would ever choose not to get my partner a Christmas gift,” Bobby says. “A lot of times, couples agree not to get each other gifts for Christmas for various reasons, and I fully support that. But even if I agreed to not purchase a gift, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't find another way to give her something special.”
Ladies, what’s your take on gift-giving? Share in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Corynne Olivia