I went out with a guy once. Technically we weren’t together, but I wanted us to be.
He seemed a little lukewarm to the idea though. Instead of spewing him out of my mouth, I was convinced that my creative charm might tip his scale in my favor. So when the night was over, I handed him a bag full of scrambled puzzle pieces. “Put it together, flip it over, and then do what it instructs.”
I know, right? I was little Miss Mysterious.
The night before, I had pieced the puzzle together and painted instructions on the back for him to look in the bed of his truck. There he would find a light saber (that I had snuck into his truck bed while he was in his dorm piecing the puzzle together). It was a nice light saber. Not the extremely cheap one that you flick your wrist to expand. He was a Star Wars fan and said it was “the best gift ever”. I was pretty proud.
This however, failed to make him commit. But I was not out of ideas.
Halloween came around. Even though neither one of us celebrated the holiday and all it’s connotations, I decided to do something quirky and memorable. I asked him to meet me behind a campus building. There I was waiting for him with two bottles of cream soda. We made a small toast and then I blindfolded him and took him downstairs to my department media lounge. Inside the lounge I had a boom box playing his favorite song from his favorite band playing on repeat. I also had a present and two pies waiting to be sliced.
While he was blindfolded, I fed him a forkful of each pie, removed the blindfold and gave him his gift. Then I had him pick a movie for us to watch together.
Yeah, I was doing the most. Like forreal. And the funny thing is that almost a year after my grand Halloween gesture….after giving him a Captain America mask, the original Superman comics, the entire Star Wars saga (on Blu-ray), a handmade pecan pie, and many DTR rants…his feelings did not change. He still was not interested in me, no matter how hard I tried to prove my worth.
Which sucked for me. I gave the gifts because I liked him and I wanted him to like me.
Wait, did you catch that? I gave him gifts because I wanted him to like me. Did not really give much thought or care to how he felt about me. I was going to try to get what I wanted. Him to like me. And that is selfish motivation. Selfish motivation is of course, the complete opposite of what a relationship should be based off of.
Now, do not get me wrong. Gift giving is not bad at all. But sometimes the reason we are giving gifts is not always the greatest. We want to think that we are thoughtful and considerate. And perhaps we are. But an episode of Judge Judy brings up another issue. Chick blew $5,000 in a month on her deadbeat boyfriend. Why? “I don’t want to lose him.”
Let us break this down: SHE did not want to lose him. So SHE was trying to get him to stay by showering him with stuff.
I’m sure she felt kind buying him a TV, Xbox, and whatever else he wanted. And she probably justified her actions in “love”. But quite frankly she was trying to manipulate him with “stuff” to get him to do what she wanted: to stay with her. So ultimately her motives were not about love or about him. It was about HER needs.
Perhaps she was desperate and wanted a relationship badly. But even if her actions can be emotionally justified, she was still self-centered in her motivation throughout the relationship. Which is exactly why she brought his butt into court trying to sue him over money spent on his “gifts”.
How invested was homeboy? Well, seeing how he easily went off with someone else…probably not much. Her gestures had not convinced him to stay nor did they deem her worthy of a relationship. But like me she was too busy trying to get what she wanted, that she failed to notice that he was just not that into her, nor was he worth her time in the first place.
In a relationship, you’ll want to be romantic, thoughtful, and creative. Which is fine. However, your motivation really needs to be in check.
Giving gifts excessively can sometimes be a sign of personal desperation to be wanted, liked, or accepted. True, everyone wants to be loved. But you should never find yourself in a desperate state to keep or impress someone. Odds are that if you are working so hard to try to convince someone they should stay by your side, it is probably because they have already left.
Take it from me, romance and gifts will not save your relationship or keep someone with you. If flowers, teddy bears, and Star Wars memorabilia were all it took to keep people together, the divorce rate would probably be at 1%.
Yes, romance can HELP if used properly. But romantic gestures alone do not make or break a relationship. The HEART behind them does. A gesture or gift can be sweet as honey. But if there are still problems in the combs of your heart, you will have struggles in the flow of your relationship.
In the early stages of dating especially, gift giving and grand gestures are often used as means to impress, gain acceptance, or to hide. You really like someone and you want to keep his or her interest. Maybe you’re scared they won’t like you. But you convince yourself that if you do or give them something they like, that they may perhaps like you too in return. However if you’re always putting on a big show, then it’s likely that you are trying to keep someone entertained. Believe me, it takes a lot of work to maintain that act. And a relationship should not be a giant performance for your lover…or Facebook.
Now I am not saying: “Do not buy your girlfriend flowers!” Keep things spicy and interesting in a relationship, yes. But you also need to keep it real.
Romance and giving should stem from affection that is already exchanged, not love that you are trying to get or keep. Otherwise, it is selfish. You are using gifts or actions to try and get what you want…them to like or love you more. Or forgive you. That is not cute or lovely. That is selfish and manipulative exploitation…with a cherry on top.
So give…but examine your heart when you do. And be alert of a person who seems to be giving a bit too much. It is not necessarily evil, but it may be an indication of a personal acceptance issue (which might bring other problems into your relationship).
On the flip side, many of you might want to complain that your boo never gets you anything. No flowers, cards, or candy. Okay, but do they give you fruit?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23
Alas, gifts and gags are good for kicks. But fruit will make for a healthy relationship. Even if you aren’t Christian you have to agree that being kind, patient, and faithful are great principles for a relationship. So if you must give anything in a relationship, give fruit.
And if your baby doesn’t buy you all you have ever wanted, BUT gives you fruit, chill out. This is not a movie. Most men do not have a romance reflex. On the other hand, if your relationship is lacking fruit, chances are that it probably is not any good for you. But you are the maker of your own love diet.
I will warn you though that if you try to build a relationship on romance alone, it is likely to be rotten. A ballad by Gavin DeGraw hits the nail right on the head when he sings about his love: “We can’t survive on candy.” And it’s true. Sweet things in a relationship are not enough for love to live on.
The dating trend of today will tell you to “use the force” to try and keep someone in your life…like me with my light saber trick. But, this isn’t Star Wars. You are not a Jedi. You can neither force nor buy someone’s love. It does not work that way.
Real love is not selfish. It will not abuse romantic gestures in order portray itself worthy of liking, trusting, loving, or forgiving. True love waits…not just for sex, but for someone to grow to like, love, and forgive them on his or her own time. True love uses romance as an expression of truth, sacrifice, and appreciation.
And a good relationship is a fruity one, bearing love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
It took me a little while to pin point my overcompensating habit. I truly am compassionate and mean well in my giving. However, I also had emotional desperation and a burning desire to feel accepted. So I had to learn to accept myself and get past the fear of rejection. For me, that meant heading back to My First Love. I do not need another person to feel loved or accepted anymore.
Nevertheless, I learned very valuable lessons in my past experiences (and i hope you now have, too).
The next time the love bug bites, I do plan on being creatively charming. But first I will give sufficient time for the person to get to know ME (and all that they are getting into ha ha). I am not going to use gifts and gestures as a bush to hide or an instrument to put in a good name for myself.
I will let…myself do that. And if they do not like the name I offer, well…”Yoda fool!” Not me.