When you’re in a relationship for a long time, you will, obviously, find yourself in a sticky situation. No, not that one where you feel your relationship is getting stale and you decide that rather than talking about it you embark on a string of one-night stands that leave you hollow and emotionless and hating yourself for being a bastard (anyone? No? Just me then?). I mean the one where you have to try and find something nice to buy her for her birthday.
Birthday’s are awesome, of course. Parties are fun, you have an excuse to make contact with old friends/distant relatives, and you get some sweet swag. Unless you’re the person having to provide the party, respond to the contact and purchase the present.
In particular when it’s your girlfriend. Christ knows that the tiniest little thing can make her cry with tears of joy or tears of rage dependent on how much it appears that you’ve understood the phrase “I like shiny things” (tip: silver foil doesn’t count). There’s a fine art to picking out that perfect present, and it’s one I’ve yet to master.
But I do have some myths on gift buying that I’d like to clear up before I go into my own personal dilemma.
1. The more you spend, the better the gift.
So many conversations that I’ve had with friends about buying gifts for their other halves involve a pissing contest over who spent the most amount of money. I think the worst hit to the wallet was something like £75 for a necklace, and they’d been dating less than six months.
Seriously? Do you need to spend this much on a girl to gain her affections? The most I ever spent on Jen is about £30, and that was spread across three different items, all of which were objects that didn’t belong about your person. Does that make me cheap, because I’m willing to seek out the best deal I can get and not go for extravagant pieces of jewellery? Does my girlfriend secretly resent me for not buying her these things?
(The answer, by the way, is no, because she has one accessory that I conceptualised and comissioned (from my mother and sister) that she loves.)
2. She’ll love it no matter what, because it came from you.
I’ve been told this so many times and I will never, ever believe it. Not totally, anyway. An ex once gave me a mug that, when tilted, played a loud football-style chant. It turned out that she knew it would annoy me (our relationship was doomed from the start, and again when we went back out, and then again the time after that (God I was lonely back then)), which thus made it the perfect gift.
The point is that it’s possible to screw up, no matter what he/she says. What you buy a person is a reflection of yourself as much as it is a genuine opportunity to show your appreciation towards another human being. And, even if you’ve been going out for a while, you’re still being judged.
(This may or may not just be my own personal worry; it is entirely possible that Jen means it when she says it.)
3. Gifts guarantee sexual favours
I don’t care if your intentions are ironic, don’t even joke about this.
Leading you back to my inital concern though…
So right now I’m searching for presents for Jen’s birthday (which is a month away, but hell, Christmas decorations are going up) and after a moderate discussion about what I could possibly get her, I was informed that I should rely on our “in-jokes”.
Of course, what with me being an hour away from her at almost all times, and the fact that when given a specific constraint the typical human will simply forget everything within the constraint, I then forgot all our in-jokes. So now I’m out on my sleeves, desperately trying to claw together a reasonable idea.
My great ideas have already been shot down. Radical Face recently released a new album, and I’m like “oh I could get her the CD”. Then, like a dick, I tell her about it, and she’s all “oh man I could totally get that from uTorrent (or whatever she uses)!”. Damnit! If I’d kept my mouth shut, I could’ve had the most fucking spectacular present ever!
And now I’m faced with the trouble of what theme do I go for? One of the things we do a lot together is play video games; do I get her gaming related gifts? We often go for walks; some walking boots? I occasionally make gay jokes about me and her dad; mental re-programming sessions?
Do I actually need to spend a large amount this time? We’ve been dating for nearly two years, and for the first time in my life I have a large sum of money and a good idea of when another large sum of money will fall into my lap. Is now the time to splash the cash and make a big show? Or would that just look like I’m trying too hard to make up for the fact I don’t just live down the road from her anymore?
If I get her something, will she really appreciate it? It’s not related to anything she actively seeks out to enjoy, but if I stick it on then she’ll enjoy it. But does that mean she could stomach even more of it? Is she only enjoying it because I enjoy it? Would she ever use it? (Being deliberately generic here cos I know Jen reads this.)
Do I get her something she mentioned a vague interest in but I didn’t take it as a serious thing and so forgot the specifics and don’t want to get it wrong?
Or do I do something completely, totally off the wall and get her a ridiculous joke present? Would that go down well?
Could I incorporate all these things? Get several presents? I imagine if I was careful enough, I could do that relatively cheaply, but then am I sacrificing my own wellbeing for her? Isn’t that the point of a relationship? Could I honestly spend more money than I would really like to on someone I love and care about very, very much? Does it make me a bad person if I even have ideas such as “more money than I would really like” that I work at when it comes to being generous to others?
I’m sure I’ll work it out. Or, you know, just ask her.