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Love Letters

My boyfriend used to be good at gifts, but now he’s not

Does it mean he doesn't care anymore?

Q. Hi, Meredith,

I’ve been dating a guy for two years now, and we’ve known each other almost four. One of my biggest pet peeves is that he always asks me what I want for gifts. I’ve told him multiple times that I hate telling people what I want. I’ve suggested that he ask my friends, but he feels asking them is the same as me telling him what I want.

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I know I should keep my expectations low because I’m not helping the situation by not telling him, but by now I was hoping he’d know me well enough to know what I like. We both like sentimental gifts and he was good at gifts before we started dating, but now it seems as if he’s lost that skill, and I don’t know what I can do besides give in and tell him what I want. I’m just worried that if I do, I’m going to start feeling as if he isn’t even trying to be romantic and that we’ve fallen into complacency.

 — Help

A. First, I have to take his side about going to your friends. Asking other people for gift ideas seems a lot like asking you. If he’s not going to come up with the idea himself, why wouldn’t he ask the person who knows best?

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Second, there is a compromise here: You can give him a gift category. Sometimes it helps to tell a partner that you really want concert tickets for your birthday or that you’re looking for great books for the summer. At that point, finding the right gift becomes a lot easier. The gift will be a surprise, but you’ll help him get there.

You should know that at this point, his gift problems might be more about fear than complacency. If he’s been told he’s doing it wrong, he might be overwhelmed by the process, and that won’t help him with his shopping. When it comes to gifts, it’s better to make suggestions than to criticize.

 — Meredith

READERS RESPOND

One of your biggest pet peeves? There are others like this? Thoughts and prayers to this guy.

RICH1273

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Ladies want to feel like the men in their lives are thoughtful/comprehending enough to notice what they like and give gifts on special occasions. By asking her friends, it shows he cares enough about her to give her a surprise and that he will put effort into figuring out what she likes.

PENNIES2CENTS

I don’t think my father ever bought my mother a “thoughtful” gift in his life. But she didn’t care because he showed how much he cared for her in a million other, different ways.

FINNFANN

Your boyfriend is not a mind reader, nor should he have to be. If you know you want a gift, and you know what you want, then for goodness sake just tell the poor guy. You don’t have to send him the exact Amazon link, but you could give him a variety of choices or a general idea and let him find something that suits you. Start compromising or stop asking for gifts.

TABLEFORONE

I remember a letter from a while back, where the letter writer was whining that her boyfriend wasn’t a gift-giver. This letter writer should count her lucky stars.

MIKELT

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.
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