Finding the perfect gift is no easy task. And let’s face it, as much as we’d all love to be great gifters -you know, those people who seem to effortlessly combine just the right amounts of romance, whimsy and practicality when shopping for others – some people are simply better at it than others. If you’re one of the unlucky few faced with a lover whose holiday swing just straight-up missed, (read: you hate the holiday present they gave you) here’s a three step guide to handling it with style… and making sure they do better next time!
1. Stay calm
You’ve just opened your present and you’re in shock. Whether it’s that your ears aren’t pierced and your lover bought you earrings, or that you were not so subtly hinting for a Wii but wound up with cooking lessons… When your significant other seems to have shopped for someone other than you, it can feel like you’re not being seen or heard. However, no matter how you’re feeling at this very moment, there is only one reaction that is appropriate: above all else, you must stay calm.
As much as you may want to scream or pout or complain or comment sarcastically, this is one of those rare, delicate situations where displaying your true emotions might not be the best answer… yet. Why? Because emotions – and expectations – are heightened at this time of year and in this situation. Whether it’s because of commercialism, materialism (expecting more than they can really afford), or simply the desire to be known by your partner (it’s normal to hope that they just, well, get it right), doesn’t matter at this exact second. What’s important is that you smile and say thank you. In the end, being gracious will go a long way – both in softening the blow of their “miss” and in ensuring it never happens again.
2. Assess things
Before you address the fact that your gift isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you’ve got to assess the situation. By the situation, we mean not just the moment (are you alone together or in front of family or friends?), but the misstep (was it simply thoughtless or did your lover genuinely think you’d love your gift?) – as well as your motivations (is your gift totally you – just less extravagant than you’d hoped for?). Only once you see those three things clearly you can decide how to move forward.
First things first, your disappointment is a private matter – one that should never be handled while other people are around. Wait until you’ve got a moment alone before getting into a discussion about your gift.
Second, be sure you’re not simply being spoiled or demanding but also, know that it’s okay to want your lover’s gift to be expressive of your personality and your relationship – not a mold they want to shape you into (like being a good cook when you hate to cook!). In other words, consider the example of asking for a Wii yet getting a cooking class. If you’ve expressed interest in learning more about one of your partner’s interests (food?), then realize that while you may have wanted that Wii, they wanted to share something with you. Conversely, if you’ve never worn jewelry a day in your life, but your lover has given you earrings – that aren’t even close to your taste either – it’s another situation altogether… but not necessarily one that is beyond repair.
3. Get to the heart of the matter!
Now that you see your situation clearly, one great way to approach your amour about their gift is to ask about their motivations. What about this gift made them think of you? You may find yourself surprised by the answer (and it may change your mind about what you were about to say). You may also find that not much thought went into it. However, before you go jumping the gun or reading into things, think about the big picture. Does your lover put a lot of thought into your every day life together? Do they usually make you feel special – in little ways or with grand gestures? If your seemingly inappropriate gift is not symptomatic of a greater problem, the simplest solution can be to let it go – and maybe make suggestions of what you’d like the next time down the road.
On the other hand, if your expectations were in check but your partner was simply careless (read: if they aren’t interested in pleasing you even just a little bit) then you may have a larger problem on your hands… one that may take a little more to unwrap. In this case – and really, always – remember that communication is the only way to make sure any relationship yields bountiful gifts for the long haul.
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