How to help men improve at gift giving

The common discussion that women are better selecting the right gifts than men is not only a theory, it has been supported by a 2013 study done by Monique M. H. Pollman and IIja van Beest. They found that women think more about the gift they are selecting due to their interpersonal interest in others. 

Men are also accused of being more likely to forget important personal gift giving dates such as birthdays and anniversary. So in summary, men are more likely to forget to purchase a gift for their partner, and when they do remember, they are more likely to select a bad gift. The study also found that men are also more likely to react negatively to a bad gift from their heterosexual partner.This definitely justifies men being the butt of most of the gift giving jokes; as it seems they don't take the time and interest to buy proper gifts, but then react badly when they dislike their gift.

All of this shouldn't matter though as we are often told "it’s the thought that counts", but that in itself has its own challenges. This would imply that when a man forgets to buy a present, he wasn't thinking about his partner, which in most cases isn't true. 

With all that we have said thus far, we do believe that a lot of men who are in relationships do forget the important dates, or for different reasons do not, or forget to buy gifts for their partners; but that there are other reasons that has nothing to do with them not thinking about, or loving their partner less.

We also think that even though men may have less general interpersonal interest in others than their female counterparts, most men still want to get the perfect gift for their partner but just don't know how to do it.  

Forgetting to Buy Gifts

From the perspective of their partner, not bringing or forgetting to buy a gift for a major occasion especially when one is expected, is a most serious relationship offence. Events like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and or any other public or popular gift giving day comes with significant marketing and promotions. It is therefore unforgivable and inexcusable for a you to forget to buy a gift on those occasions, that is unless you were in the hospital, lost at sea, in a cave or the desert, traveling out of space or dead. If not then resort to fasting, praying, burning a sacrifice on the altar, beg for mercy and hope your prayer is answered.

However, birthdays and anniversaries are a totally different situation. More often than not when a guy forgets those dates, it is no indicator of the status or importance of the relationship, or the amount of love he has for you. It is quite often a result of how the male mind functions.

Normally the guy knows the time is near, he knows the date – but sometimes not the actual day and he has a plan to get you the best gift he can think of, and then something happens in between and causes his focus to shift – something to do with work, family etc. and it slips him. Typically it’s something that’s important to you or his family's survival or comfort that causes him to forget, but doesn’t take away his feelings or the importance. His flaw is that he puts too much faith in his memory and his ability to execute no matter what happens, and he's often wrong. 

To solve this problem will require actions by both parties. Women will have to work a little bit more on understanding the difference in the functioning of the male mind, and ultimately they will realize that this is not a barometer of a man's love.

Men must also take the time to learn the things that are important to women, so they can understand the mismatch between their perspective and that of their partner. Men need to make also use of technology. There are calendars and reminders available on your laptops, tablets and computers. Men also need to shop early to minimize any risk of situations changing their plans.

Selecting Bad Gifts

Giving a bad gift to a spouse or partner is a much better situation than not giving any gifts at all. That however does not make it a good thing. It is a statistical fact that people return or throw out a significant portion of the gifts they receive,  because they disliked it. This is more challenging for people in a relationship as we all know what would happen when your partner asks to see that gift that they gave you. 

There are different reactions on the part of the receiver when presented with a bad gift. They may not want to hurt the giver’s feelings and keep their thoughts and reactions to themselves, and over time some forget it while others let it build up inside until sometime in the future they blow up. For others it is the thought that counts and it doesn't matter as long as they get a gift. And there are others who will directly express their displeasure.

For the giver, if he doesn’t know that the receiver dislikes the gift, then he will believe it was well received. If he is however told that the gift isn't liked, or he doesn't see the reaction he was expecting, then disappointment sets in. If this happens often enough, then men develop fear and trepidation when it is time to buy a gift.

So with this fear of getting the wrong gift, men draw out the process and wait until the last minute to select, which even increases the pressure, reduces the options and therefore propagates the cycle.

How should this be addressed; again it requires dual effort in some circumstances where the partner should make the man know in no uncertain terms, and act accordingly that indeed it’s the thought that counts, and recognize that the man really has good thoughts but is terrible at selection.

The other thing that his partner can do is to tell him explicitly what they would like, even though in most situations it takes away the essence of gifting. Where possible then they make drop hints.

How men can reduce this self-pressure and improve the gifting outcome there are multiple steps that may be taken individually or collectively. First he must believe his partner when told that it’s the thought that counts, this helps with the stress reduction. He must pay attention to his partner and look out for the hints, as we have outlined, in certain circumstances the best way to know what the partner wants is to get it from them; or poll their close friends and family. Finally, we encourage the men to use gifting or specialty websites when searching for gifts as large retailers and marketplaces makes it overwhelming when you have no idea what to choose. And finally, do your best to avoid repeating gifts and pay attention to the gifts that were disliked, at some point after try and learn why she didn’t like it so you can add it to your gift bank. Also try and plan your gift beforehand to reduce the last minute stress.

I also have a don’t. Even if you ask for support in coming up with the idea, it is always best that you make the final choice.


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