Q: Dear Meredith,
I am a lurker who is finally compelled to write in after yet another conversation surrounding gift giving or lack thereof….
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.
Readers? Weird? Not weird? Jewelry? Thoughts? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.