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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    What Happens When Your Gifts Don't Match? Strategies for Addressing Gifting Disparity in Relationships

    When one partner gives a lavish gift and the other gets nothing or a much smaller gift, it can create an uncomfortable feeling of distress in a relationship. This type of gifting disparity can put pressure on both parties and can cause a rift over time. But how do you address a gifting disparity without hurting the feelings of either party or causing an argument?

    First, it’s important to recognize that gifts don’t define the love of a relationship and should never be used as such. Money is tight, and oftentimes gifts are too pricey or unaffordable, so it’s important to recognize this is a part of life. It’s ok to spend more money on a significant other, but try not to let it become a consistent factor in your relationship – it’s far too easy to slip into a pattern of feeling obligated to give pricier gifts.

    If you’re on the receiving end of this gifting inequality, take a step back and practice a bit of empathy. Consider what’s going on in the life of the person who gave the smaller or no gift. It may be that they don’t want you to feel guilty. Of course, if this is using as an excuse frequently then this kind of behavior needs to be resolved. Remember to stay focused on how much you’re loved, not the monetary value of a gift.

    If you’re feeling uncomfortable after receiving a bigger or more expensive gift than what you provided, bring up the issue with your partner before assuming any ill intent. Communication is key in every relationship, even regarding financial issues like gifts. Ask them why they got what they did or how they’d feel if you gave a smaller or cheaper gift. Talk about it openly together, and come up with a solution together.

    It’s also important to think about alternative forms of completing the balance of the gifting – if money is really tight and a gift isn’t an option, there are plenty of alternatives. Planning special quality time together, doing chores, errands, or other tasks for them can all make for valuable non-monetary gifts.

    Gifting should never be about keeping up with someone else. Instead, it should be about showing your partner that you care. If you focus on thoughtful giving rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses, then your relationship will be healthier and happier.

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