As a relationship coach, I offer relationship advice and self help wisdom to single people. I notice a lot of anxiety and stress during the holidays when it comes to giving gifts. Our minds swirl with questions like, “Should I give a gift to this or that person, and if so, what would be appropriate and how much should I spend?” We can feel an enormous amount of pressure, angst and obligation.
It’s particularly challenging for people who are in a relatively new relationships. “We’ve only been dating for couple of weeks (or months). Should I give them something for Christmas, and if so, what would be appropriate and how much should I spend? (The same issue happens with birthdays.)
This issue comes up in all kinds of relationships, doesn’t it? Gift giving can be really complicated. Whether it’s a “Secret Santa,” an employee, a co-worker, a close friend, a family member, a spouse or even your relationship coach J, we can get really bunched-up and worried about the whole issue of giving gifts.
Conventional vs. Conscious
Here’s the perspective I would offer: There’s a CONVENTIONAL approach to gift giving and a CONSCIOUS approach.
The conventional approach is to give a gift from a desire to CONTROL. Control what, you ask? Well, control your image and/or control an outcome. If you feel any degree of stress/angst or obligation/duty when it comes to gift giving, you can be sure you’re trying to control your image or an outcome.
The conscious approach, however, comes from a desire to be CONGRUENT. Here, the only concern is that our actions match our inner truth. If we want to give someone a gift, expensive or otherwise, we do. If we don’t, we don’t. We simply do not consider the message we may be sending, how we may be viewed or how someone may react. We just do what we want. Period.
How easy is that? We just stay in our own business and give (or not) in a way that aligns with our truth—and we allow others to form their opinions of us and have any reactions they want.
The Congruent Single
If you give a really nice and expensive gift to someone you’ve only been dating a short time, and they get scared off because your gesture reveals how much you like them, so what? You’ve been authentic. You’ve shown your heart. If a person is into you, an expensive gift won’t scare them off, even if it doesn’t fit the stage of the relationship. Yes, it may lead to a conversation about how you feel about each other, but that’s good too.
However, if you do give a gift that seems pretty extravagant for the stage of the relationship, notice how that can be coming from a desire to control too. Perhaps you want them to know how much money you have, which would be an attempt to control your image and how they feel about you. Perhaps your motivation for such a gift is that it will make them want to have sex with you, or take their profile down, or stay off of Tinder, or choose to be exclusive with you.
The point of all this is that there’s a lot of sneaky, unconscious stuff going on when it comes to giving and receiving gifts in the dating scene (and everywhere else for that matter). Your role as a conscious single is to be as aware of your true motivations and intentions as possible. And when you see that you’re attempting to control, you immediately shift to the conscious approach and act or give in a way that is congruent with you inner truth and feelings.
In summary, then, when faced with the issue of giving gifts, whether it’s for Christmas, a birthday, Valentine’s Day or any sort of special occasion, keep this in mind:
- Conventional Wisdom = Control
- Conscious Wisdom = Congruent
If you want this to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” then choose the conscious approach to gift giving. Give congruently. Be free of obligation, control and fear. Be true to yourself and let others feel and do what they want.