I once received a pretty white gold bracelet from a guy I had gone out with for a few weeks. I didn’t like it – not because I didn’t like the piece of jewelry, but because I didn’t know if I liked the guy giving it to me. I wondered why he felt the need to show me his interest with such an expensive gesture, and it made me question his judgment. I appreciated his generosity, but the fancy gift put unnecessary pressure onto the getting-to-know-you phase that we should have been enjoying at the start of dating. (For those of you who are wondering – no, I didn’t keep the jewelry!)
The reality is that it is not always the thought that counts when you share a gift with someone you are dating. And while I don't believe there are hard and fast rules in dating, I do believe there are smart strategies. It is important to remember that most communication is based on non-verbal exchanges. For this reason, we have to think about the messages we are sending with the gifts we give (or don't give, as the case may be).
Now that the holiday season is upon us, a number of singles are wondering about the kind of presents that are appropriate to share early in the courtship process. After all, at this stage, there is a fine line between sweet and…creepy.
Early into a relationship (during the first 3 months), gifts should be thoughtful but simple. A bouquet of pretty flowers, a book on subject matter that is of interest to the woman you are dating, or a great box of chocolates is appreciated by most women I have interviewed. Treating your date to a fun and interesting activity or taking her to an entertaining show or event also ranks highly. One woman I interviewed remarked, “I love old fashioned gifts like chocolates. You may think it’s boring – but most gals like it, and anything much more seems like you’re trying too hard….”
The problem with lavish gifts too soon is that you are setting a standard that may be difficult to keep and also, you may appear to be too eager. Sure, we want to know that you like us (and don't believe the hype that women want to date jerks!) - but we still want some mystery during the courtship process and time to figure out if we want to pursue a relationship.
After the initial honeymoon period, when you have been dating for 6 months or more, women I spoke to expect more substantial gifts that are based on your knowledge of what they appreciate. My friend's boyfriend got her a massage with a note that read, "You're working too hard! Take a day for yourself on me". She still talks about it years later.
Another woman I interviewed explained that she lost interest in her last boyfriend when she realized he never put any thought into the gifts he gave her. She said, “I had been with my ex for about 8 months and he still didn’t put in any effort when my birthday or Christmas came. He knew those occasions were important to me and I would’ve been happy with anything that showed he cared; but he shrugged and told me he didn’t care much about stupid holidays. It became obvious that he’d always put his interests ahead of mine…”
When you have been dating for a significant amount of time, make your gifts significant. At this point, you know your girlfriend’s hobbies, values and interests. Your girlfriend is expecting you to spend a little more money and a lot more time picking out something she will enjoy.
The good news is that most women I spoke to admit that kindness and generosity are displayed in the simplest of gestures - making sure she gets home okay, being a good listener or sharing a gift that is based on your knowledge of who she is. Those things go farther than a fancy white gold bracelet any day.
Andrea Syrtash is a dating expert, life coach, author and host of 'ON Dating', produced by NBC Digital Studios. Her third book, "He's Just Not Your Type (and that's a good thing)" will be published by Rodale in April 2010. Andrea has made Google 'hot trends’, ranking in the top 100 things googled on particular days between 2007-2009. She has no idea how that happened, but appreciates the (very postmodern) honor. For more visit www.andreasyrtash.com
Posted at 08:59 AM | Permalink
“I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member” – Groucho Marx
Yesterday, a woman client told me that she didn’t return a man’s phone call because he called her too quickly after receiving it. She felt bad about it, but her sentiment was loud and clear: “you’re trying too hard, too fast, and you should probably just chill out”.
Of course women aren’t the only ones who see things this way. We all tend to value things that are hard to get above things that are easy to get. The way we see it: if it’s that easy to obtain, it can’t be all that valuable, can it
This is why men want to sleep with women, but then often hold it against them when they do. This is why women want men to make an effort, but not so much, and not so soon.
So when it comes to giving holiday gifts to the new man in your life, bear in mind: less is more.
Believe me, I don’t think it should be this way. I mean, it would be great if both men and women could openly express their feelings without fear of recrimination. But what if a man were to bring you a bouquet of red roses on date 1? Nice gesture, but a bit too eager, don’t you think?
Such premature proclamations of devotion ring hollow when you’ve known someone for all of ten minutes. So, for your own sake, before you bust out the Amex, take the temperature of the relationship and make sure you’re both on the same page.
A man who is unsure about you may be flattered by a gift – hockey tickets, a new book, or a professional massage – but it is certainly not expected. Nor is a holiday gift necessarily going to make him like you more. After all, men don’t fall for women based on what they receive from them. Men fall for women based on how much they want to give to them.
That’s right. Men give. That’s why we ask you out. Why we make the first move. Why we follow up the next day for plans. Why we ask you to have sex. Why we offer to be exclusive. Why we ask you to move in and get engaged. You don’t have to initiate anything; you just have to receive and say yes. That’s sound dating advice – and sound gift-giving advice as well.
If you want a rule of thumb, try this:
No gifts after a great first date.
No gifts for the guy who is just “seeing” you.
The only time a guy should get a gift– whether it’s after one week or two months – is when he’s “officially” your boyfriend. Because if he’s seeing you and only you, leaving his weekends open for you, buying you dinners and gifts, and talking about plans for the future, then a small holiday gift is both appropriate and appreciated.
You might see a sweater that would make him look soooo cute. You might want to get him a new guitar case since his old one is ratty. You might consider booking a romantic night at the Ritz-Carlton.
But unless he’s your boyfriend (or has openly suggested mutual gift giving), you should probably hold off…at least until you know he’ll be around next month.
Evan Marc Katz is a dating coach and the author of “Why You’re Still Single”. Learn to create your own success in dating by picking up his free eBook, “The 5 Massive Mistakes You’re Making in Your Love Life” at www.evanmarckatz.com/newsletter.html
Posted at 08:59 AM | Permalink