On our fourth date he announced, “I bought you a present.”
“Oh?” I inquired, “What?”
“I’ll give it to you later.”
At the end of the evening he handed me a bag. It was a silky negligee.
This man had never even given me flowers, but he gave me lingerie! My husband of 20 years never gave me lingerie, but this guy does on the fourth date. The good news is he got the size right, something my ex never could figure out even though he had easy access to my closet and drawers.
Most women agree lingerie gifts are for the man, not the woman. He likes seeing you in sexy things, so he buys them “for you.” He doesn’t know that they chafe and pull and are uncomfortable. He likes how they look on you. Luckily, most of them don’t stay on long.
I have been given some interesting presents from my beaus. Some of them were appropriate. Others were more for him than me, like the lingerie.
An early beau gave me a set of “right”-sized red wine glasses because he didn’t like the shape of my crystal ones. Since I don’t drink red wine, this set of 12 was for him (and picky guests I suppose) when he drank red wine at my house. He also gave me a Blackberry, which didn’t sync with my Mac. He wanted me to have it so he could intercom me anytime he wanted to reach me. Calling wasn’t sufficient? While I appreciated the thought, I asked him to take it back since it would cost me $100 a month in charges for something I didn’t want and wouldn’t work with my computer.
However, some beaus have given me presents I was grateful for at the time and still am. They weren’t necessarily the romantic gifts that are appreciated most, although I am fond of the two semi-precious-stoned rings one boyfriend funded. The gift that reminds me of him every day is a new faucet head he bought and installed to replace a broken one that dripped incessantly.
Other simple but appreciated gifts include a new kitchen timer when my BOM (boyfriend of the month) learned my old one broke. One former suitor passed on a nice living room chair and a glass coffee table that match my decor perfectly. When he got new furniture for his new post-divorce house, he offered them to me. I’m glad I was the recipient of his good will — and the pieces.
Sometimes the gifts are of labor and expertise, rather than tangible. One guy affixed a stereo antennae so now I get more radio stations. Another greased my garage door opener, lubricated my locks, fixed a broken towel rack, and waxed my car. Yet another unclogged a downspout. And one sweetheart helped me fix a jammed CD player.
Presents, from the wrong person, can have emotional costs affiliated with them. The garage-door-opener greaser/lock lubricator/car waxer did so without checking to see if I wanted those things done. I thanked him and thought I showed my appreciation, but not as much as he thought I should. So I said, “Thank you for doing these things for me. I know it is part of how you show you care for me. And I’d be even more grateful if you’d help me with things I’ve identified need to be done.” He got huffy and said I was taking advantage of him. He wasn’t around long.
Giving someone what they want instead of what you want to give them seems to be a hard concept for some men to grasp.
And sometimes gifts aren’t, really. In week five of a six-week relationship, a man who works on Macs for a living offered to give me a part I needed. When he brought it to me, I offered to pay for it, even though it sounded like he was going to give it to me since he had it lying around his office. He accepted my offer, and said, “Cash, please.” I was incredulous. “Really? You’re kidding.” He said, “No, I’m not.” He wouldn’t take a check from a woman he’d been dating regularly for over a month. No wonder we stopped seeing each other shortly after that. Maybe he knew a breakup was imminent so thought I’d put a stop payment on the check.
Not surprisingly, the same gift from different guys can evoke wildly different emotions. I’ve received three teddy bears from different guys during my dating adventure. One was on the first date from someone who has become a dear friend after we decided we weren’t good together romantically. I think of him fondly every time I see it. The second was a much larger bear from the Mac-repair guy mentioned above. At the first opportunity I sold it in a garage sale, as I didn’t want anything around to remind me of him. And the third was a first-date gift from a man I instantly fell for — unrelated to the bear.
The best gifts, I’ve learned, are those of the spirit. Kindness and thoughtfulness trump any tangible gift. But material gifts selected with some thought are meaningful as well. For example, I always appreciate flowers, but when a man learns I prefer unusual flowers, like bi-colored roses, peonies, anthurium or protea, I feel even more cared about. It shows he’s taken the time to learn my preferences and acts accordingly. But no matter what the gift, I always appreciate at least the thought and effort behind it.
This is an excerpt from Dating Goddess’ book, Real Deal or Faux Beau: Should You Keep Seeing Him?, one of the 15-book Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 series. Order it at Dating Goddess.