Are Gifts Necessary During the Holidays if the Relationship Is New?
Anyone who’s found themselves in a new relationship with the holidays approaching is posed with a dilemma. Do you buy your new love interest a gift, or is that somehow too serious?
It’s a painfully complex question for anyone indecisive or anxious. Whatever you decide, as long as your new significant other comes to the same conclusion, everything is fine. But if you don’t buy them a gift only to find they get you one, you look wildly inconsiderate. Conversely, giving them a gift when they felt like it was too soon makes you look clingy.
It’s easy to get in your own head about what to do (or not do). Flip flopping back and forth like Vizzini’s one-man battle of wits in “The Princess Bride” could drive anyone insane. The wrong decision could forever taint your partner’s perception of you.
As a quick aside, it’s relatively reasonable to just ask, “Hey, are we doing gifts this year?” This could save a lot of trouble and late-night second-guessing, but here’s the catch: What if they just lie about it? What if they’re the type of person who tells you, “Oh, no, don’t worry about it,” only to go ahead and gift you something extravagant anyway? Those people are real. They exist. They can’t be trusted come holiday season. Less alarming is the still very real possibility that you over (or under) extend on your gift to them in comparison to what they get you. That is to say, no matter what you do, this is a very delicate gift-giving dance.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we? If you’ve only been on a single date with them, congratulations! The answer here is a simple one: Don’t buy them anything because, well, that’s basically crazy. If you’ve been on roughly five dates and things don’t feel emotionally or physically intense, you’re probably safe, too. Anything above that is where it starts to get murky.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been dating for three months, seeing each other on a regular basis, it’s probably a good idea to buy them something. It doesn’t have to be anything major, sure, but at three months, you’re relatively serious. You’re officially in gift territory.
For everyone else, what do you do?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Yes, there’s advice to be mined here, but everyone’s situation is different. It’s impossible to address every individual situation based on number of dates, level of exclusivity, intimacy and the countless other factors that define relationships. Your best bet is inexpensive, yet thoughtful. Make sure it has some meaning, but don’t pay more than standard shipping when you order it.
For all you new couples, huge gifts are off-limits. Spending hundreds (or thousands) on jewelry, clothes, electronics or anything else can come off as way too intense, no matter how well-intentioned the gift is. Conversely, not getting anything can leave you looking like a Scrooge. Truth be told, you’ve gone on enough dates with this person that you likely have some kind of fun inside joke to riff off of. Aim for something from a movie you both love perhaps, or take ‘em back to that restaurant they talk about constantly. Basically, something that isn’t a major commitment financially, but still says, “Don’t worry. I get you. I’ve been paying attention to this relationship.”
At the end of the day, as awkward as the situation is, hopefully you’re dating the kind of person that isn’t going to break up with you over a gift. More than likely, they just want to spend a moment with you on this special time of year. If decades of Christmas movies have taught us anything, it’s that the real gift is each other. Or family. Or friendships?
Definitely the real gift is people. Probably.
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