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The Love Blog
How To (Gently) Cure Your Gift-Phobic Guy
If you are one of the thousands of women who received a household appliance for your last anniversary, you are not alone. If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of women who received a box of candy for Valentine's Day, two weeks into your diet, you are not alone. If you are one of the millions of women who received flowers for her birthday - the day after - and not at work- you are not alone.
The truth is: most men are "gift-phobic." It's not that they don't care, it's that they are afraid to disappoint you. Most little boys are not trained in the art of shopping, gift giving, and package presentation, whereas little girls learn gift giving etiquette and savvy at the hands of their mothers and aunties.
With little experience and zero confidence, many men rely on old standbys like flowers, candy, and taking you out for a nice dinner. What does all of that remind you of? That's right. Dating.
In the beginning of your relationship, you probably thought it was sweet that he presented you with a heart-shaped box of candy on Valentine's Day. You loved every petal on every stem of every flower, and thought he was a romantic because he took you back to the same restaurant for special occasions. Men do what works. So, if you liked it then, you should like it now, right?
So where do all of those "useful" gifts come in? Actually, it shows your guy is paying attention. He hears you say several times that you really need a new vacuum, and so he thinks he is giving you what you want when hands over his plastic for that brand new Dirt Devil.
The last thing your guy wants to do is disappoint you. He might have an idea of something you might like, but when it comes time to actually purchase the item for you, he chokes. He has gift giving performance anxiety. This is why, if you go to the mall on December 24th, you will find scores of men wandering about like deer in headlights.
This is also why so many men miss their partner's birthdays and anniversaries. In an effort to postpone the painful insecurity of wondering if you will like what they purchased, they wait too long and miss the boat entirely. And you won't like anything they give you if it's even one day late. Right?
Now that you understand why your guy is gift-phobic, you can help him get past it. First, you are going to have to let go of your fantasies about elaborate romantic surprises, or the perfect gift that makes you wonder if he was "reading your mind." These expectations set your guy up for failure.
Once you accept the fact that although he needs a little clue here and there, he doesn't love you any less, you can start training him for gift giving greatness. There are two ways of doing this, and you can use them both.
As you flip through catalogs, put post-it notes by the things you like, and if it's clothing, jot down your size on the note. You can do the same with magazines, but you need to include the retailer's web address so your guy can actually find the item you want.
Now, remember, you want to help him gain confidence. Point out the items you like, but don't tell him to get it for you for an upcoming occasion. Leave the catalogs and magazines somewhere where he can easily find them when he's ready to buy.
Another way to help guide him is a bit more obvious, but still leaves room for him to make the decision for himself. Tell him three possible options that you would love to receive equally. Phrase it in a way that does not chastise him for not thinking about what to get you sooner.
For example, you might say, "I don't want to interfere with any ideas you may have for our anniversary, but I was thinking I might like a spa day, or to see that new Broadway show. Oh, and what do you think of Tango lessons? Those are all things I would really love for my anniversary."
Do you see how that approach does not reprimand him for not thinking of something on his own, gives him a few options to consider, and lets him keep the element of surprise? The last sentence is really important, because it lets him know you will be happy when you receive one of those gifts. You're telling him it would be a sure thing.
The final step in curing your gift-phobic guy is praise. When you receive a gift you like, or like better than the last one, praise him. Get excited, tell others about it in his presence, and by all means, do not return it. Also, make sure you use it, wear it, or show it off from time to time.
When you help your guy become a world-class gift giver, he will want to do it over and over again. With new found confidence, he may even give you something you didn't expect; something that is exactly what you wanted, fits you perfectly, and shows you he knows and loves you best. That's worth a little gentle training, isn't it?
Karen Fusco is co-founder of SilkBow.com which supports Busy Moms with free gift ideas and helpful tips to meet the challenges of motherhood. She is also co-founder of WellnessArticles.net, a directory of articles covering many areas of wellness. Karen can be reached directly at: karen@SilkBow.com
***Visit our Gift Giving for Lovers for some other great gift-giving ideas, including free printable love coupons!