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2 Reasons Why Valentine’s Day Gifts Cause Relationship Problems

3250938683_94b1dee1fe1Are you sweating what to buy your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day this year? Are you feeling a lot of pressure to buy the “perfect gift?”

Valentine’s Day gifts have been the death knell of many a burgeoning and faltering relationship.  Men and women, mostly women, oftentimes attach over importance on the holiday trinket and not the relationship itself.

If a Valentine’s Day gift makes or breaks a relationship, odds are it was already on shaky ground. There are various reasons why people give gifts: etiquette (it’s expected), buying another person’s love and affection, manipulation, guilt, or as a simple token of affection.

For some, giving and receiving gifts is a huge deal; for others, it’s not so important. If you’re in a secure and healthy relationship, holidays, birthdays and other gift giving occasions are days that remind you how lucky you are to have found each other and be together. If you’re not in a happy and healthy relationship, gifts are a source of conflict, sense of failure, guilt trips, and anger. There are two main reasons why gift giving can cause relationship problems:

1) If You Could Read My Mind, Love. There are many women who believe that when men fall in love they develop special psychic powers. He is supposed to magically know her every need and desire. If he can’t guess or doesn’t know what she wants or needs, then he doesn’t really love her. While being in love adds many wonderful dimensions to a person’s life, ESP isn’t one of them.

Every one of us is responsible for getting our own needs met. If we put this on someone else–a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a spouse, a child, a friend–it will only lead to disappointment, hurt, and resentment. If there’s something specific that you want or need as a gift or in your relationship, ASK FOR IT. Passively sitting back and waiting for people to please you is NOT a recipe for relationship success.

If you communicate your needs you’re more likely to have them met. Alternately, if your partner cannot or will not meet your needs after you’ve communicated them or your needs are incompatible, perhaps it’s time to move on.

2) Money Matters. Many women think the cost of the gift correlates to the level of feelings and emotional investment of her partner. Sometimes this is true; sometimes it isn’t. Carat size isn’t necessarily indicative of the quality of a relationship.

I have a friend who gave his girlfriend a tennis bracelet last year for V-Day. She opened the box, tossed the bracelet in the air, let it land in her palm and said, “It feels a little light.” My response to him when he told me the story was, “And you’re still dating her WHY?”

The true measure of a relationship is mutual kindness, caring, support, warmth and commitment. Unreasonable gift expectations can be a sign that your values are out of sync or that perhaps one of you wants more of a commitment than the other.

The best gift of all is when you give of yourself, not your Amex card, well, on second thought, I guess it all depends upon whom you’re involved with.

Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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Photo credits:

Cupid by Voodoolady on flickr.

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  1. December 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm

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