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A Daters Guide to Gift Giving: Evaluating the Response

In a dating relationship, you must also be sensitive to the way your partner responds to gifts. Because of their cost or perceived meaning, certain types of gifts may not be readily accepted by the one you love. At a singles conference in the mountains of North Carolina, Josh approached me after a lecture on the five love languages with a perplexing question. “I believe in all five love languages, but what if you try to speak a love language and your dating partner is not willing to accept it?” he asked.

“Could you give me an example?” I requested.

“Well, I’ve been dating this girl for three months. I’m really excited about her. Samantha’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. I wanted her to know how much I cared about her, so I bought her a really expensive gift. But when I gave it to her, she said, ‘I cannot accept this. I just don’t feel right about it.’ I was devastated,” he said.

“I still don’t understand,” he continued. “I really wanted her to have it.”

“I think I know why she rejected the gift,” I said, “but I’m not sure you will want to hear it.”

“Oh, I want to hear it,” he said. “I really do.”

“OK,” I said, “here’s my guess. I think the two of you have different ideas about the current level of your relationship. It is obvious to me that you are very interested in Samantha. You said that she is the most wonderful girl you have ever met. The fact that you would buy her such an expensive gift indicates how deeply you feel about her.”

Josh was nodding his head in affirmation. So I continued, “The problem is that Samantha views the relationship differently. She obviously has an interest in the relationship or she would not be dating you, but she is not as far along as you. In her mind, it is too early in the relationship to be receiving such expensive gifts. She doesn’t want to give you the wrong impression. She doesn’t feel that the relationship has reached the level where she would feel comfortable in receiving such a gift as an expression of your love. Therefore, you must accept this and respect her wishes.”

There was a long pause, and then Josh said, “You’re right. I don’t want to hear that, but I think you’re right. I love her so much and I wanted to do something really nice for her. But I guess I’ll have to give it more time and hope that she will come to love me as much as I love her.”

I nodded and said, “Six months from now when Christmas rolls around you might test the waters before you purchase the gift. You could say something like this: ‘I want to do something really nice for you this holiday, but I don’t want to surprise you. Would you be willing to accept________(name the gift) as an expression of my love for you? No strings attached. I just want you to know that I love you.’ If she says yes, you will know the relationship has matured. If she says no, then the relationship is in trouble.”

“I’ll do it,” he said, “and I hope by then she will receive it.”

Josh learned an important lesson: You cannot force someone to accept an expression of love. You can only offer it. If it is not accepted, you must respect the other person’s decision.

...and you?
How often do you give gifts to those you love and care for? What is the last gift you gave and to whom did you give it? If you enjoy receiving gifts, from whom would you most like to receive one? Would it be appropriate for you to give this person a gift this week?


People have different types and interests. Before you give something to the person you like, you should know him or her first including all her likes and interests. - Tire Works

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