Gift giving is a universal phenomenon in males, and spans the animal kingdom. The male adelie penguin offers a stone to his mate before courtship, while the male hanging fly offers a large, dead insect as payment before getting it on. However, unlike the penguin who stays true, once the male fly is finished with business, he takes back his gift and heads across the field to offer it to the next available female.
Men aren’t particularly good at expressing themselves with words, so they give gifts. Some researchers believe there is evidence that the earliest forms of mankind used food in exchange for sexual access and grooming from women. The most generous of these guys would end up getting the brunt of the action, thus helping to spread the seed of the gift-happy male. Similar social customs can be seen while watching man’s closest relative, the chimpanzee.
Research findings show that men almost exclusively buy for women, while women are content when giving gifts to both men and women. This suggests that the gift may continue to be used as a mating ritual prior to sex, and in fact further studies have revealed that many men are the most generous early on in relationships, before sexual intimacy occurs.
Realizing the importance of this gift giving ritual, we can actually use what a man chooses to give as a symbol of the stage in the relationship, the strength of the intimacy bond, and whether or not it’s time to find a new suitor. Let’s take a glimpse at what the gift says about the man.
Flowers, Stuffed Animals and Chocolates
While certainly not the most original gift, men associate these items with safety. In other words, they are hard to mess up. Each one of these should be thought of as a simple token to express his interest in continuing to develop the relationship. These gifts are also the universally accepted way to say “I’m sorry” whenever he screws up.
The man who buys clothing for his partner is climbing out on a bit of a limb. This requires him to know his partner fairly well; otherwise he will fail at getting her something she will be happy wearing. Many men see this as an opportunity to prove to his partner that he knows what she needs and understands her.
Sexy sleepwear is a whole other ball game beyond the skirt and blouse combo. This is his subtle (at least he thinks) way to introduce more intimacy into the relationship.
Jewelry is a commercially driven gift, made successful by the countless ads which tell guys that the way to a girl’s heart is through a small velvet covered box with a shiny thing inside. On the other hand, women do like jewelry, and this can be an opportunity to express his commitment to her (love), as well as the extent of his ability to take care of her (symbol of wealth).
Men place a great deal of importance on the expense of a gift, believing that the more pricy it is, the more it will mean. This is, however, based on the comparable wealth and level of sacrifice of the giver. In other words, a diamond ring from a pauper may mean more than the same ring given by a billion dollar tycoon. This is how some women can get the wrong idea – by gauging his intentions by the monetary value of the gift.
Women often misinterpret the meaning behind appliances as gifts. If the appliance is handed over in a brown grocery bag, then it may indeed be time to take inventory of the relationship. However, men are more utilitarian about gift giving, seeing the greatest value in its pleasure and usefulness, rather than sentiment and thought value. He may have bought the blender simply because he thought you needed it.
This is the guy who has either given up on the relationship, or has given up on trying to find his partner something she really wants. Either way, it shows laziness and a disinterest in getting to know her. This gift could be a red flag, unless it can be traced back to some creative thinking, such as a spa service, favorite book store, dinner for two, etc.
Sometimes a vacation package may come off as being slightly self serving, but it may also be a sign of taking things to the next level of commitment. For the married couple, a vacation may be his way of rekindling the flames by having her all to himself for the weekend (or longer).
What are your favorite gifts to receive – and give?