Q. I have been dating my boyfriend for six months. He has some really great attributes, however one negative is his lack of gift giving. Not big gifts, sometimes just a sticky note to surprise me with an “I Love You,” or a funny card or flowers would be nice. I have mentioned this to him, he says he will try to remember but it doesn’t last. Should this be a deal breaker? –Ellen
A. Your boyfriend’s lack of gift giving could be a deal breaker if this is something you need. While you are dating it might be a great idea if you both committed to reading, The Five Love Languages” written by Dr. Gary Chapman. In my opinion this book should be required reading for all couples, preferably before the relationship gets too serious. It should be required for singles so there is an understanding of what love means so you don’t waste your time on someone who misses the mark.
Dr. Chapman lists the following 5 Love Languages:
1. Acts of service – handyman projects, making favorite meal, housework.
2. Words of affirmation – “you are amazing,” “I’m so glad you are my girlfriend,” “I appreciate you.”
3. Physical touch – hand holding, affectionate hugs, snuggling, sex
4. Receiving Gifts – small ways (or big) to leave reminders of love and caring
5. Quality time – not just hours of time together but time well spent, even if it is just sitting together, being present to one another.
So if you have done your homework before dating and know how you desire to be loved, the idea is not to waste your time on someone who does not speak your language. Once you see it is not happening don’t make excuses, hope it will change or decide to “wait it out.”
The idea for the couple learning each others love language is to try to meet that need to create a more harmonious relationship. It can be difficult if Joe does not need gifts for himself but Cindy does. Once Cindy expresses to Joe this is something she needs and loves then it is up to Joe to try and speak Cindy’s language.
Here is an example: Cindy and Joe made an appointment for marriage counseling. During the first session Cindy expressed how much she would like Joe to show his love for her with silly sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, a card left on the kitchen table, flowers just to say I Love You. She was very clear that gifting was one of her love languages. When it was Joe’s turn to talk he said, “That is just not what I do, I don’t think about it, you have married the wrong guy if that is what you need.” Cindy sat on the sofa with tears rolling down her face. It was very sad.
We need to know ourselves; we need to know when something isn’t working; we need to make changes. It is almost a guarantee that we will become resentful if someone isn’t meeting our needs. Resentments grow, they do not magically disappear.
No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws. It is important to know what you need and make choices accordingly. If you want someone to give you gifts, notice if they give them to you when dating and if it continues. It your language is quality time, don’t keep dating someone who doesn’t give it to you.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
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