Sometimes, being in a relationship is about being able to guess what the other person is thinking. A prime example of that is when you have to give gifts to your significant other, particularly when those gifts have a romantic connotation, like they do on Valentine's Day.
There'll be years when you have the perfect Valentine's Day gift planned, but we've all had those times when you're searching for a little help from your partner and coming up blank. Considering how hard reading your partner's mind can be, here are 10 little dos and don'ts to give you some guidance when you're scrambling for gift ideas.
10. Don't make it overtly sexual.
This is particularly true if you're a guy, but for anyone, there should be more to your relationship than merely sex. Sure, sex is something that both of you enjoy, but it looks a little selfish and immature if, on the most romantic day of the year, your entire gift revolves around sex. Obviously, if your significant other specifically tell you they want something sexual, that's fine, but otherwise, leave the gifts of lingerie, handcuffs, and vibrators for another day.
9. Do pick something for both of you.
Whether it's an experiential gift (a vacation, an extravagant meal, a couples' massage, concert tickets, or a class you've both been meaning to take) or just a material object that the two of you can enjoy together, it really makes way more sense to get something that will make life better for both of you than something that you hate but pleases your significant other. We'd hope that the you both share some common interests, if you're going to be buying this person a Valentine's Day gift, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find something you'll both be happy to have.
8. Don't expect too much from your partner.
The easiest way to mess up the gift-giving aspect of a relationship is to expect your partner to get you exactly what you wanted and then be let down. Unless you know for a fact that you're getting the perfect gift, it's going to be a lot more pleasant and less stressful for everyone if you go into the gift exchange with reasonably low expectations. If you enter with the presumption that you won't be giving or receiving the ideal present, then it's almost a guarantee that you'll eventually be pleasantly surprised when your partner exceeds your expectations and delivers with something amazing.
7. Do consider the state and length of your relationship.
We feel like this should go without saying, but the gifts you should give and receive depend entirely on your relationship itself. If you just recently started dating a broke college student, you probably shouldn't expect diamonds and pearls. On the other hand, if you're married to a CEO, then we'd like to hope you do better than some chocolates and flowers. The most important thing is just to get something that goes along with your relationship. Don't buy something totally out of character for you or your partner just because you think that's what you're supposed to do on Valentine's Day.
6. Don't be afraid to buy a gift card.
There are plenty of times when buying a gift card for a significant other is frowned upon. By no means are we saying that gift cards are your best options, but in certain situations (long-distance relationships, relatively new relationships, or if you just have no idea what to buy), they're totally acceptable. Here's the catch, you can't buy your partner just any old card, because you have to show that you put some thought into it. Your partner may not expect you to know exactly what you'd want for Valentine's Day, but being able to show them that you know what types of things they like by giving them a gift card is, at the very least, a thoughtful way of saying "I kind of knew what you'd want."
5. Do make sure to spend time with your partner.
It really doesn't matter who you are or what kind of gift you give, Valentine's Day is a holiday meant for couples to spend together. Obviously, there will be times when it's completely impossible to spend the day (or at least part of the day) as a couple, but you should generally make every effort to do so, even if it means lessening the gifts a bit for budgetary reasons. Like many holidays, V-Day should be more about presence than presents. There's no substitute for time spent with a loved one.
4. Don't think it has to be expensive.
Buying expensive gifts is cool and all, but there's really no reason you have to break the bank to give solid gifts to your Valentine. Jewelry and watches might be popular ways to handle the holiday, but they're not the only way. We're not saying to go the route of the homemade gift or socks (unless that's what they're into), but there's a lot of sense in buying something that your partner will actually enjoy and use rather than whatever has the highest price tag. Particularly if you're making an educated guess, you'll feel way less bad about missing on a $40 gift than a $400 gift. It's about gifting smarter, not pricier.
See also: 10 Tips for Avoiding the Friend Zone
3. Do take your partner's interests into consideration.
The easiest way to keep the cost of presents down is to understand what your partner's interests are and appeal to them. If you're dating someone who loves movies, buying them a framed poster of their favorite movie is likely going to be a lot cheaper and better-received than shelling out for that designer wallet or purse. On the flip side, if your partner is super into an expensive designer, it makes way more sense to get the nicest thing in your price range (that they don't already have) than to take a gamble on a cheaper brand that they may not end up liking.
2. Don't buy just one gift (unless you're sure it's perfect).
Unless you know exactly what your significant other wants, you can make yourself look a lot better (and often save money) by getting a number of small gifts rather than one big one. Assuming that you'll see the person on the days leading up to Valentine's Day, we'd recommend starting with the smallest/cheapest gifts (flowers, chocolate, etc.) and working your way up to the day itself. In the age of social media, your significant other's series of Instagram photos of your "Valentine's Week" gifts will look a lot more impressive than the single one that your friend dropped twice as much money on for Valentine's Day itself.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
1. Do remember to put in the time and thought.
The old phrase is "it's the thought that counts," and while that's not always true, there's something to be said for it. If you put time and effort into finding what you consider to be the perfect gift(s), your significant other should certainly appreciate that. If you put enough thought into getting your partner a present that you believe they'll enjoy, and you know what your partner likes at least a little bit, then you should be able to get close enough that they'll be glad you got it for them.
See also: 10 Dating Deal-Breakers