Gift Exchange

I write here to sort my thoughts. Sometimes I get stuck in my head for so long that I can’t see a way out. 

I have always had an issue with receiving gifts. I am a very hyper sensitive gifter. I pay close attention to my giftee’s desires and I’m sure to give them exactly what they will like. I’m thoughtful with my curated gifts.  It doesn’t matter if the gift is big or small, I need to get it right. 

I learned how important this was to me in childhood and marriage.  I tried many, many times to explain to my husband that I just “want what I want” and sometimes I like things that are frivolous.  I like things that are thoughtful but really something special for me. I just don’t want the thing anyone else can have.  

So while my mother and x saw this in me as a selfish spoiled child, there have been others along the way that recognize if they just give me what I like, I will be the happiest girl in the world. 

It’s not about the money but paying attention to me. 

My girlfriends have bought me some of the most amazing gifts over the years. Really incredible.  These gifts are from newer friends, people who know me as I am now and not jaded by the person I was during marriage.  They see my style and embrace it. It might not even be something they prefer, but they know I will love it. 

Not to make the story lengthier than necessary but my x had a horrible habit of taking what I asked for and turning it into something else.  I would say “I want this, exactly this” and get something else equally as costly – it wasn’t about the cost – it was about his lack of understanding me.  The worst were the technology gifts. I can buy that stuff myself.  It just seems cold and thoughtless.  He once gave me a rice cooker for Valentine’s Day.  God knows why.  

Bennett has given me small gifts and flowers along the way and they have always been perfect. Bobby knew exactly how to please me and even Finnian knew what made me smile.  Oysters and Prosecco are a perfect example.  They make me happy. If you order me red wine, I won’t drink it.  I don’t like it. Period. 

It seems pretty black and white to me. 

I was excited to exchange with Bennett because I figured the gift would be something very special.  Again, it’s not the cost, it’s about how it makes me feel receiving it. I thought he might write me a song, or record new ones, or reschedule our vacation. I also thought after 6 months he might give jewelry or something personal.  He has been so thoughtful about me over the course of our relationship that I was sure I would love whatever he chose for me. 

That didn’t happen. 

I’m partly embarrassed to even say how upset I am about his gifts because he did put thought into them. But he put the type of thought you out into a gift you give to your wife of many years, not a new lover.  

Bennett knows I will travel often next year and made his gifts around a travel theme. He bought my favorite perfume in a travel size, a gorgeous leather bound travel diary (which I will never use and it’s very expensive / but he knows I write and he thought I could write about my travels, it weighs 20 pounds so if you know anything about travel it’s the last thing you want to carry a heavy book)  a cord holder for all the various electronic cords, a very special adapter plug, some other small travel things, an iPad Air and the clamcase keyboard to go with it.  He chose these  gifts because my iPad is old and I had a problem with it before travel. I had specially told him I no longer used it and probably hadn’t touched it in close to a year or more.   He insisted I travel with it and I didn’t open it once.  I told him so. 

He is an avid tablet user and is so excited for me to have more than my phone.  He was very excited in general around the thought that went into his gifts.   He loves his tablet so much and we are so similar in sure he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want one too. 

I was crushed. 

Here’s why. 

He asked me what I wanted some time ago and I said anything with diamonds (again it can be a tiny bracelet – doesn’t have to cost a fortune) and I gave him my best friends number so he could check with her as she could help him. He later asked if I would like to choose my own gift and I said no, because I would prefer he spoke to my friend and surprised me. I said I would like jewelry when he pressed again.  

I told him many times about gift giving debacles with my x and how I hated technology gifts. 

I know he had given his wife an iPad for their wedding anniversary last year.  

I just wonder what happened that he didn’t give me a special gift meant just for me. Anyone can be given an iPad – it’s cold and impersonal in my opinion.  I think he  might have even mentioned that his gift exchange with his wife was pretty thoughtless.  

I hear my mother telling me I’m just being ungrateful.  But why would I keep $700 worth of gifts I don’t even like?  I have an issue with waste like that. 

I also have an issue about lying about liking something that I don’t. I was clear I didn’t care about the iPad back in November so what sparked his imagination to think a newer one might boost my interest again is beyond me. 

I feel like he wasn’t listening. Or he didn’t care.  

I know he put thought into his gift. His thoughts. I just don’t feel like he paid attention to my desires and it’s very disappointing. 

Meanwhile, he was on cloud 9 with my gifts because they were intensely special and well thought out. 

I’m having a hard time deciding what to do so I wrote this post. I know raising anything around gift giving is potentially hurtful.  I don’t want to hurt his feelings but I don’t want to lie about the gift and I’m pretty sure he’s going to ask me when I use it. 

I would have been really happy with a pretty little bracelet from him.  Something personal for me that would remind me of him when I wore it. 

Not a piece of tech. 

I thought he knew me better.  And it seems I just end up disappointed.  

Maybe it’s just a snapshot of the end. 

Impersonal. Disconnected. 

Meanwhile, this poor mans mother just died and he made a point of carving out time to be with me today.  He said he couldn’t bear being apart for so long and he needed to be near me.  When he held me he said he hadn’t felt this good and relaxed all week.  We didn’t have sex but just lie in each other’s arms for an hour to be close.  

I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to hurt his feelings but I do feel hurt that the first gift was impersonal.  I literally feel myself withdrawing into a shell the way I felt when my x have me gifts I felt I had to be thankful for but I didn’t really want. 

I can’t possibly be the only person out there that just wants what they want.  Bennett could tell you everything I have ever told him by date and time, he pays strict attention to everything I say and do….so this just felt like a throwaway for me and I can’t seem to dump that feeling. 

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

29 thoughts on “Gift Exchange”

  1. This post has me thinking. I’m hot and cold on gifts – both giving and receiving. Sometimes I will spend the time necessary to find the perfect thing, or just as often suggest we not exchange gifts because I am completely uninspired. With the holidays, the last 10 years feel a lot like gift grabs or bribes for business or rewards for good service, anything but personal. My kids are now young adults and I prefer to provide monetary gifts; it makes all of us happy because it brings them one step closer to personal goals. Every now and again, though, I will see something perfect for someone and buy it and present it, just because.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I absolutely see that and agree over time and relationship. Money is the easiest gift for an adult child unless you know they prefer – or like you said, you are inspired – to give something different.

      But this is a new relationship and the expectation of romance is still high. He does so many romantic things for me that my expectation was very high and I ended up being significantly disappointed at the lack of personalization and romance. I just don’t know how to handle it. I’m really upset.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a whole reply written and poof! Gone.

        Suffice to say, your post stirred up my thinking about my own disinterest in gift shopping. I feel completely flat and uninspired this year. My comment was a little off-track and I apologize.

        I don’t think you are selfish for wanting to feel special and your desires and what would make you happy being first and foremost in Bennet’s mind while shopping for you. Is it possible he did not have time to shop for you until after his mom’s passing? Grief could cloud his normal thoughtful gifting instincts. Either way, I am deeply sorry for your disappointment and upset about this situation.

        Try to get through Christmas and then have an honest conversation with Bennett about your thoughts and ideas. With gifting for you, the thought really does count … for everything. And this year, in his case, his thought seems to be mostly absent.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He did buy before his mother died which is why it bothers me. I didn’t take your comment as off track at all. I am upset over something a lot of people don’t understand and appreciate because their gift giving instincts are quite different – which is how I was raised and who I was married to – and I already have experienced the angst my being unhappy With gifts can cause the giver to feel.

        I just have to figure out how to talk to him about it in an appropriate manner.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. i kind of understand where you are coming from. but in my case i just hate people getting stuff for me. i can buy whatever i want for myself whenever i want. and i absolutely hate commercialized gift giving in particular.

    that said, i think you are being a little unfair to him. would it be nicer if he got you everything you want? yeah, of course! but his mom just passed, and he’s probably feeling crappy and overly stressed right now over everything.

    cut him some slack on this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He bought the gifts a month ago so they were not influenced by his mothers passing. I don’t need everything I want on a whim – I can buy it myself. That said, if you are spending that much money on me you should be giving me (or anyone) something they will use or want. It’s a lot of money to sit unused. And I am hurt by the lack of personalization when he is generally so very thoughtful.


  3. I find your equation of jewelry meaning romance but technology being something Anyone could buy fascinating. My ex used to get me gorgeous and expensive (probably not by your measure) gifts from Tiffanys. Things with diamonds are just as “commercial” and can be as unthinking as anything else.
    I say this only because you seem to have lots of judgment about the type of gift, in addition to your disappointment that he didn’t get you precisely what you asked for.
    It would have been nice to get you jewelry “with diamonds” as you asked for but who knows why he didn’t. Maybe he thought it would be too expensive?
    I too think you should cut him some slack and let it go. If he seemed to put thought and care into it, that’s what matters. If he didn’t, well it could be many reasons why.
    Are gifts one of his love languages? It’s not one of mine and it was my ex’s and in 15 years I never got him a gift he appreciated until after we split and I bought him a $4000 watch for his 40th birthday. That’s the first time he didn’t sound like a petulant ungrateful recipient (to me) and it was the gift that took me the least amount of time and care. Just way more money than I’d ever spend.
    I think Bennett has plenty of things on his mind – if you approach Valentine’s Day together then I’d take the opportunity to have the discussion. But not now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Although I said it many times in the post, it’s not about the cost. I was specific I didn’t want tech gifts and wanted jewelry and that I like gifts that are personal for me. Frivolous would suit me. Tech does not and we have had the conversation. Those gifts he did purchase are expensive and will go to waste. I don’t want them or need them and I won’t use them – that’s. It wasteful?

      You point out cost more than once. I happen to like a blue box. But I also know you can buy a gift at Tiffanys for less than $100. It’s a subjective thing regarding what’s commercial.

      Just like your taking pride in fixing your own toilets when I would call a man any day than do it myself.

      I’m avoiding having the discussion but he has asked me multiple times now if I like my gifts and I am avoiding him. He’s seen my reaction when I like something frivolous and unnecessary and while I gave my best poker face at the time I think he has started to realize there’s no follow up. When he does something small for me that I love i reinforce many times – I think he knows that.

      He does and should have more important things on his mind but I have a quandary about lying about the gifts.

      The funny thing is that gifts are not my love languages. They fall all the way to the bottom. The bottom line is I like what I like and I’m upset it wasn’t personal or romantic. His visiting me yesterday meant more to me than the gifts. But I can’t lie about something I don’t like because I have lived with that backfiring for me with my x.


      1. I agree with you that for what he spent he could have purchased jewelry with diamonds, as you specifically requested.
        I also know what it’s like to receive something you don’t really want, and it’s disappointing.
        I was trying to get across two things: that you equate jewelry (for example) as personal and romantic, and tech as not. As a general rule that’s what you seemed to be saying, which I simply found interesting because in my experience I felt my ex getting me something from Tiffany’s was a cop-out because it was so easy as opposed to making it personal to me. I would have preferred jewelry not from a chain, but from a local artisan. To me that would have taken more time and effort and been more personal to me.
        In my case, the amount he spent I was uncomfortable with. I’m well aware there are less expensive things at Tiffanys (but not with diamonds my dear!)
        Hence why I understand your frustration at receiving something not aligned with what you wanted. But I never complained about it – my ex always did and he didn’t sound good in my opinion. He just “wanted what he wanted”, he had lots of rules about gifts, in his case there was an expected dollar amount, and even when I did what I thought was very considerate and thoughtful (perhaps like Bennett), because it wasn’t the precise thing he wanted he would complain. That complaint didn’t ever sit well with me and I just wanted to recommend to you to wait to have the discussion, given everything else Bennett has going on. A white lie won’t hurt for now. Or just tell him exactly what you’ve written here…but I don’t know that he will receive that information in the best light because what he might hear is that his effort and consideration isn’t good enough for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree fully now is not the time and I just want to avoid it all together.

        And I am firmly in the camp that I want what I want. And my x and my mom felt exactly like you did/do about it not being received well and not sitting well with them, ever.

        It’s truly not about the dollar amount and my only reason to reference Tiffanys is as a first try at jewelry. He knows I go to a special jeweler and that’s why I gave him my friends number. Of course I prefer custom made jewelry. But choosing something “more commercial” but still
        Aligned with my taste is a lot easier.

        I wasn’t worried about the precision even though the post reads that way. I wanted something romantic and personal and certainly not something he would have given to anyone or his wife previously. His context of mentioning giving her an iPad for their anniversary was around something useful but not special. So I find hypocritical that he feels the gift is special for me.


      3. Completely understand. There’s nothing wrong with wanting what you want… however when you are someone who not only has precise wishes but then additional rules about what is and isn’t appropriate for a gift (your statement about what a gift should and shouldn’t be at the beginning of a relationship, for example), it can be frustrating for someone else. Perhaps Bennett has his own rules about what is and isn’t appropriate- maybe he doesn’t buy jewelry generally, or thinks it’s only for a spouse, or anniversary. Who knows?
        In my case, my ex didn’t give me precise ideas – or if he did they were far more than I wanted to spend. That was my frustration…. having a lot of rules and no clear guidance as to what miraculous gift would meet all the rules šŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The thing is – he asked – we had discussions. It’s not very precise as to the gift, but tech was out. Again, he spent a significant amount of money so why not spend it on something in want? I just don’t understand that.


      5. As I said – he could have his own views of what is and isn’t appropriate. He may have thought his gifts were more thoughtful. As I said before, he may have thought (incorrectly) that your ask would be more money than what he wanted to spend. He may just have been tired. Who knows, unless you ask? But it will likely sounds like a criticism to him hence why I suggest you leave it alone until another time.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh and to be clear – I’m not criticizing you even if you only wanted expensive things. I agree it’s subjective, that was kinda my point (and not sure what toilet fixing has to do with it?). Therefore Bennett may not understand why his effort is not appreciated. He may not have understood how critically important it is that he get you EXACTLY what you want from him. That is something he can learn in time but right now may not be the time to teach it. I agree you shouldn’t just keep it to yourself forever.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Again it wasn’t about expensive!

        He bought me, a couple weeks ago, my favorite lotion and perfume together – a special combination – because he knew I was running out. Not expensive (well for perfume and lotion it is) but so thoughtful and wonderful and kind. And useful. I use them everyday and I know how much he loves them too.

        I really just don’t know how to keep avoiding his asking me if I am enjoying the gifts


  4. I would definitely cut him some slack. He put effort and thought into this themed gift and I feel like he will be crushed to know how disappointed you are. Perhaps when he asks you can comment on how sweet it was that he thought of ideas around your travel…out of concern for you…but that you worry that you might not make use of the iPad. Or something like that since it’s not a lie.
    Also I am confused…in one moment you say you want a gift to show the person put in thought…and you admit that he did…but it still wasn’t the specific gift you wanted. Perhaps when he asks for ideas you will need to be more straight forward because it does sound like he really tried.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He did really try and he did really put in thought.

      I guess another way to say what I was hoping for was something frivolous. Not something from Target. I do have a Bouygues side and I like nice things that are personal to me.

      You are right it sounds like a double edge sword. I just strongly feel tech is something you get when there’s nothing else to get because all the romance has gone out of your relationship. In a new relationship gifts should be frivolous and romantic.

      Had we not had multiple discussions over gift giving I would feel he worked with what he had – but he does know me quite well.

      My issue is lying over wanting and liking these gifts. I’m not going to use them. Hey we’re expensive. And now they sit unopened. Isn’t that also hurtful to the giver?


    1. I will have to tell him I am just afraid to hurt his feelings right now.

      And I suppose having a boyfriend last year who was an amazing gift giver isn’t helping the situation when I feel like Bennett actually knows me better than Bobby ever did.


  5. I’ve been in the exact same boat this week. I thought long and hard about what to get Hobbes. I was almost as excited to give it to him as to see what he got me. He loved it!! He got me perfume which was nice. He has to be careful about what to get because of the circumstances. My problem was I saw another bag from the same store. Bigger than needed for my gift. So was he shopping for her? Did he just grab something thoughtlessly and figure it didn’t matter? Did he buy me the same perfume as he bought her? My brain has been an unpleasant place to be the last few days

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it. Those are the worst thoughts and make it hard. I don’t fret over what he got her…or if he ever got her an iPad…more about that it seems like a sterile gift. He knows I’m upset now because he asked and I couldn’t lie again. I just made it worse I’m sure.

      I’m so glad Hobbes liked your gift too! Bennett loved mine and I was so pleased and thrilled. I love to give special things and especially when it’s just what the person loves!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I got asked for my postal address by Mr Dark Velvet…as he wanted to send me a token of his appreciation. I gave him my address but also said that the most valuable gift that I cherish is people’s time….as it’s the most value gift I have to give of myself.

    Ring fenced one on one time and experiences (Lovely dinner, Theatre, Art Galleries, Music gigs) is what I always want from people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right. Had he chosen and experience I would have been thrilled. I chose concert tickets to the artist of the first song he ever sang to me that made me cry, and happens to be his favorite artist. He was so touched by the thought.

      Again, it’s about the connection that the gift brings in my opinion – not the $$ value. I would choose experience every time. I really believed he would reschedule the vacation.

      The bottom line is he is relatively simple and straightforward and wants to “help”. The iPad was a way to help me travel more Efficiently. I understand where his thought came from. But don’t understand how he got confused about what would make me happy when he has succeeded in doing it over and over up until now.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my, OK, here are my 2 cents. First of all, your feelings about gift-giving are perfectly fine because you are open and explicit about them now. Even though you say it’s low on your Love Languages, it’s obviously still important to you – just embrace it. Bennett fucked up his gift to you – it happens. It’s your first Xmas together, so I would cut him some slack. IF you continue with him (are you or not?), then you can adddress this issue with a few guidelines (i.e. Tech gifts are aALWAYS a no-no, take the advice/guidance of your suggested friends, etc.).

    I have a love-hate relationship with gifts both giving and receiving. I’ve entered an “anti-stuff” phase so it makes it a bit challenging on both ends, but virtually all of my gifts are consumable in some way (food, alcohol, magazines, tickets). But I’m still a sucker for a little bling.

    I would end by suggesting you focus on the positive and address the gifts in the future. You deserve to be better understood.


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