Q. I have been dating my boyfriend for a few years. We are both in our mid-20s and see a future together. It is definitely a serious relationship with basically no drama other than the occasional, typical disagreements.
One thing that really irks me, especially around gift-giving season, is that he won’t give me jewelry. He asks directly what I would like, but says “no’’ when I say that I would really like jewelry. (I didn’t even ask until 2 years into it when I realized that he clearly wasn’t planning on it.) It is not because of the cost because apparently he has no problem buying me other expensive gifts (I don’t ask for them, he just gives) but he flat out refuses. He will not give an answer as to why. His response is “I don’t give jewelry.’’ Nothing more. I realize this might sound materialistic, but if it’s something that means so much to me, why it is different than the other things he gives me? I am not asking for anything expensive. It could be $25 or $10,000, I don’t care. It’s just something that would make me happy and feel special (you all know what I mean). He will not give a reason other than “I don’t give jewelry.’’ I’m not asking for an engagement ring. Is it me or is this weird? I like to get him exactly what I know will make him happy. Is his stubbornness selfish or is it me?
MORE THAN ANNOYED IN MASSACHUSETTS
A. It’s a little weird, MTAIM. I mean, it’d be much easier if he gave you a reason. Like, “I’m afraid of picking out the wrong thing.’’ Or, “I’d prefer to buy you pretty holiday sweaters.’’ Any reason - no matter how ridiculous - would be something.
Maybe he had an ex who was obsessed with jewelry. Maybe he thinks you look nicer when you’re not accessorized. I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know: If he only buys you presents that he can enjoy (like a trip, electronics, or a nice dinner that he gets to eat too), I’d talk to him about how you approach gift giving in general. Because like you said, you want to get him things that make him happy, no matter what. If you think that his gift giving is selfish, you can certainly discuss what you’d like and why.
If his gifts are actually selfless and he’s creative about giving you nice things that you’ll enjoy (just not jewelry), I’d just accept his aversion to accessories as one of his weird things. We all have weird things. Like being afraid of heights or refusing to give foot massages because we don’t like feet. Everyone has phobias and rules. As long as he’s considerate without always needing to benefit from every gift, it’s OK.
Buy your own jewelry; that’s what I do. He probably had a former girlfriend who was obsessed with trinkets . . . who knows, but if this is your biggest problem, well it seems pretty minor to me.
Not weird. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s got to do with taste, and fear of picking out the wrong thing. I’ve definitely heard that from non-jewelry-givers before. And if he likes his gifts to be a surprise, he’s certainly not going to ask “hey what kind of jewelry do you want?’’ I’d suggest perhaps showing him some things you like so that he can get a sense of the style that you like to wear and maybe in the future buy you something on his own. Just a thought. Good luck!
Are you projecting and really worried that this means he’ll never buy you an engagement ring? LILY
Yes, this is weird. It’s not just about the jewelry. My instincts tell me that he perceives jewelry to be a more personal, romantic gift than maybe even you do. I think he equates jewelry of any kind as being way too close to the RING. And I think this because of his refusal to tell you why. That’s withholding and this has resulted in a power struggle between the two of you. He’s making a big deal of it, not you.
If somebody tells me that they don’t want to give an explanation for something, as long is it isn’t life threatening, or about my child or something of the sort, I have to respect that. I do not have to know EVERYTHING about someone. DRUNKWITHLOVE
I am 50 and I don’t usually give jewelry for a reason. I really know nothing about it. Not sure if what I am buying is worth the price or not. I can’t tell difference between a $100 pair of earrings and a $1,000 pair. JOHN02169
I’d really question why he’s so adamant on this - shades of selfishness perhaps?
He sounds like a real gem . . . sorry, couldn’t resist.
It’s not the refusal to buy jewelry that alarms me. It’s that you’re in a relationship where he won’t talk about it. If he is open and honest about everything else, then it’s probably just a reaction to something in the past that he wants to forget. If it is part of his behavior in other things, then beware. Controlling people only get more so the longer you are involved.
My ex told me if he bought me earrings, I’d just lose them. I begged him to buy them for me (how lame I had to beg him to buy me earrings instead of wanting the PlayStation portable because HE thought I’d want something to do on the train . . . yeah, I’m selfish because I actually wanted him to spend money on something I MIGHT lose than something I wouldn’t use). He finally caved, 6 years ago. guess what? I still have them. Both of them. JAZZYJTOTHEILL
Here’s an odd perspective for you - I don’t want jewelery. Why? B/c my ex ONLY bought me jewelry. Nice right? NO. It was what he bought all his girlfriends b/c it was easy, impressive, shut them up, and THOUGHTLESS. You don’t have to know someone well to buy them diamond earrings. Be happy if he buys you something that shows he put thought into it.
ELISCBEdited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.