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I've been dating a man long distance for almost a year and a half. His birthday was Saturday and we had already agreed to see one another in 2 weeks through New Year's. He's in a doctoral program and so I bought him some things he likes to use (like legal pads, a flash drive and stylus pen with his school emblem on it, etc.) as well as some token items (like a flask that says 'Keep Calm and Finish Your Dissertation' because he likes Crown Royal). I even got him a gift card inside of a birthday card so he can pick up something else he may want. Days before he opened it he asked me what was in the box. I said, "Hopefully some things you'll like that you can use". Anyway, on his birthday, I asked him if he liked the gift and he said "It's handy". Then the next day he says, "What was your thought process behind my gift" and I gave the same response: some things that hopefully he liked that he can use. Then he said things like, "Well, when I give out gifts I try to make it personal between me and that person" and "I'm trying to understand because I have lots of legal pads around the house and flash drives and pens". Then he revealed what he bought me for Christmas (which I haven't yet received) as if it was more sentimental than what I bought him. I was PISSED and hurt that he would scrutinize and compare like that. I even told him I'm cancelling my trip and I'm not coming to see him (it's not only Christmas but my birthday around that time). His response is he does not understand why I am upset because he was just asking a question, not saying he didn't appreciate it or disrespect me.

 

My question is, was this just a simple question or is he being ungrateful?

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Well I think a bit of both. But from my point of view you have overreacted cancelling the trip and all that kind of stuff. You've taken her words personally and he don't understand why you are upset because she didn't mean to hurt you. I think that she did not mean to hurt you, even if she did. So if you don't tell him what has bothered you, he will not have a clue of what's going on and maybe think that you are crazy for cancelling the trip for a simple question.

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Sometimes gift giving can be a relationship minefield and it's something that may require talking in order to understand each other. Some people are pragmatic about gifts, others are sentimental, with some it's even as simple as you tell each other what specifically you want, etc.

 

Sounds like you are pragmatic and he is sentimental. It's good that he is trying to understand where you coming from and that you did put thought into the gift. It also does sound like maybe he is a little disappointed with it because he is missing the sentimental element or rather not seeing it. Instead of pitching an angry fit, you both need to be able to talk about it so you get each other and don't have to go through this kind of stuff again.

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Sometimes gift giving can be a relationship minefield and it's something that may require talking in order to understand each other. Some people are pragmatic about gifts, others are sentimental, with some it's even as simple as you tell each other what specifically you want, etc.

 

Sounds like you are pragmatic and he is sentimental. It's good that he is trying to understand where you coming from and that you did put thought into the gift. It also does sound like maybe he is a little disappointed with it because he is missing the sentimental element or rather not seeing it. Instead of pitching an angry fit, you both need to be able to talk about it so you get each other and don't have to go through this kind of stuff again.

Bingo. Different styles of gift giving. However, I would be done if you cancelled a trip over a question about a gift.

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I am not a person who likes gifts that have pragmatic value either . My husband is. So we have to work our way around that. My husband is of the mind when you get a gift you should say you love it even if you hate it. Personally, I don’t think that works. I think communication is better. Why receive 50 years worth of gifts you hate and won’t use.

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To be honest I can see why you reacted that way. During my PhD my partner bought me loads of stationary/study related gifts and I loved them.

 

Did he not even thank you for the gift card? As the others say perhaps you both differ in what you consider to be suitable gifts. But I think it was immature of him to reveal your Christmas present early.

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To be honest I can see why you reacted that way. During my PhD my partner bought me loads of stationary/study related gifts and I loved them.

 

Did he not even thank you for the gift card? As the others say perhaps you both differ in what you consider to be suitable gifts. But I think it was immature of him to reveal your Christmas present early.

 

Thank you so much! This is exactly my thought process. We obviously have different types of gifts (sentimental vs. practical) that we like to receive but the way that was communicated SUCKED and I didn't appreciate it. When I asked if he liked it he said it was handy. Then the next day said, "So, what was your thought process behind the gift?" Then he went into the examples I gave in the original post.

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Don’t you want to understand him better? My husband and I learned to understand each other better. Now we both get things we like and can use.

 

It's more about how it was communicated. The timing of it SUCKED. Plus, he's usually critical of actions and words in general so this just put me over the top.

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It's more about how it was communicated. The timing of it SUCKED. Plus, he's usually critical of actions and words in general so this just put me over the top.

 

Ok, you never said that . It sounded like it was just about giftgiving . But if that’s his general attitude I can understand why you would be angry but you never said that in the first place .

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Then he revealed what he bought me for Christmas (which I haven't yet received) as if it was more sentimental than what I bought him. I was PISSED and hurt that he would scrutinize and compare like that. I even told him I'm cancelling my trip and I'm not coming to see him (it's not only Christmas but my birthday around that time).

 

Are you ready to break up over this, or is there more going on where you feel scrutinized?

 

I agree gift-giving can be tricky territory, and you sometimes learn as you go. What did he get you for Christmas that is sentimental? I like gifts that add to my life is some way, and maybe that means practical, but it can also feel sentimental, depending on what it is. Since you two are long distance, you might not know he if has an abundance of legal pads and flash drive. A gift is just a gift, if you let it be, and not a representation of your value or theirs. If your gift missed the mark, it doesn't lower your value or importance. My ex didn't particularly like the ritual of gift giving because people would often give him things he didn't need or particularly want and would add clutter that he was supposed to be appreciative of. He just didn't like the potential expectations and drama. I grew up in a family where gift giving was a "given", and obligation of sorts, and appreciation was expected, so it took me a long time to understand his point of view. Now I get it. I also get that people give for the joy of giving, and if it brings them joy then I am happy and appreciate the act of giving, whatever the gift. (The item given is not as important as the intent, to me.) Just my 2 cents.

 

Canceling your trip makes me think there is more going on that makes you unhappy about the relationship.

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Are you ready to break up over this, or is there more going on where you feel scrutinized?

 

I agree gift-giving can be tricky territory, and you sometimes learn as you go. What did he get you for Christmas that is sentimental? I like gifts that add to my life is some way, and maybe that means practical, but it can also feel sentimental, depending on what it is. Since you two are long distance, you might not know he if has an abundance of legal pads and flash drive. A gift is just a gift, if you let it be, and not a representation of your value or theirs. If your gift missed the mark, it doesn't lower your value or importance. My ex didn't particularly like the ritual of gift giving because people would often give him things he didn't need or particularly want and would add clutter that he was supposed to be appreciative of. He just didn't like the potential expectations and drama. I grew up in a family where gift giving was a "given", and obligation of sorts, and appreciation was expected, so it took me a long time to understand his point of view. Now I get it. I also get that people give for the joy of giving, and if it brings them joy then I am happy and appreciate the act of giving, whatever the gift. (The item given is not as important as the intent, to me.) Just my 2 cents.

 

Canceling your trip makes me think there is more going on that makes you unhappy about the relationship.

 

Thanks for your response. There is a element of scrutiny to our relationship where I may say something that he takes a certain why and then it turns into these super long conversations about him not feeling heard. He has trust issues as well and that makes everything even more intense at times. I think I cancelled because (like I told him) this is another point where I feel like I "did something wrong" and I don't want to spend my birthday and New Year's with the possibility of more of it. I don't know if I want to break up or not at this point. I feel that receiving a gift, you say "thank you". We have all received gifts that "missed the mark" but I've got him other things he's loved so I don't know why his question was even asked in the first place.

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Interesting. I don't understand why there is a question at all. The response is "Thank you."

 

Relationships aren't a dictatorship where you should just shut up and be "happy" with whatever is being done by your SO. If you are thinking relationship and long term, then seeking to understand each other is critical. Gift giving isn't about you and what you think is right, it's about making the other person happy. To make the other person happy, you need to seek to understand them rather than impose your thinking on them.

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I've been dating a man long distance for almost a year and a half. His birthday was Saturday and we had already agreed to see one another in 2 weeks through New Year's. He's in a doctoral program and so I bought him some things he likes to use (like legal pads, a flash drive and stylus pen with his school emblem on it, etc.) as well as some token items (like a flask that says 'Keep Calm and Finish Your Dissertation' because he likes Crown Royal). I even got him a gift card inside of a birthday card so he can pick up something else he may want. Days before he opened it he asked me what was in the box. I said, "Hopefully some things you'll like that you can use". Anyway, on his birthday, I asked him if he liked the gift and he said "It's handy". Then the next day he says, "What was your thought process behind my gift" and I gave the same response: some things that hopefully he liked that he can use. Then he said things like, "Well, when I give out gifts I try to make it personal between me and that person" and "I'm trying to understand because I have lots of legal pads around the house and flash drives and pens". Then he revealed what he bought me for Christmas (which I haven't yet received) as if it was more sentimental than what I bought him. I was PISSED and hurt that he would scrutinize and compare like that. I even told him I'm cancelling my trip and I'm not coming to see him (it's not only Christmas but my birthday around that time). His response is he does not understand why I am upset because he was just asking a question, not saying he didn't appreciate it or disrespect me.

 

My question is, was this just a simple question or is he being ungrateful?

 

Replying to this post and not the whole thread:

 

My question is, was this just a simple question or is he being ungrateful

 

A simple question, and then a compare/contrast to help illustrate his point about gift giving.

 

He wasn't putting your gift down. It left him flat emotionally. I get that - anyone could have given it, whereas nobody but you could have given him, say, gold lame underwear. (lol)

 

You were deeply hurt, and I am sorry. He was trying to tell you something about himself that would have been helpful to know for your future reference. You're killing the relationship over it, so I guess it won't be relevant anyway.

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But if the answer is only ever thank you, then it is only about the gift giver not about the receiver . Then the person has to wait and try and hide throwing in the trash so you don’t see it .

 

That's true. I think it was the timing of having that discussion as well as me always feeling scrutinized in general in the relationship.

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Very ungracious way of receiving a gift on his part, playing games by cancelling the trip on yours.

 

Do you want this relationship to continue?

 

I'm not playing any games. I'm hurt and don't feel like the possibility of more during my birthday and New Year's so yes, I cancelled my trip. At this point, I don't know if I want it to continue or not.

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