He’s cheap with gifts

Dear Meredith,

I've been in a relationship for three years now. We're very happy and thinking about engagement. However, there's one thing that's been off-putting for me for the past three years: he doesn't give enough. Don't get me wrong, he loves and cares for me in the best way possible, and I am extremely content in that way, but in a capital way? Not so much. On dates we either split 50/50 or I take the bill. On our one-year anniversary, he gave me a candle. At two years, it was also a small present. Birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays are an at-home dinner or a cute letter. I would always be the one to surprise him at work with a coffee and lunch or a new shirt that I picked up because I thought he would look good in it.

I make sure to go out of my way and give him what I think he deserves, which is a lot! I don't mind continuing, even if it's not reciprocated through money. I just feel uncomfortable because I cherish gifts and think of them as tokens of affection – little trinkets throughout the week just to say "Hey, I'm thinking of you," or a surprise delivery of snacks saying, "I hope you're taking care of yourself." And I like a little more effort put into big holidays and special events like birthdays and anniversaries. I don't want to be saying, "I just want you to buy gifts for me," but ultimately, yes, I do admit that I wish he did buy more things for me (I feel so bratty saying this). I've discreetly brought it up a few times, but he usually shrugs it off. Am I just being petty and worrying about these things or is this a real issue?

– Petty or Practical


"... a surprise delivery of snacks."

Better than flowers. Use that idea, everybody.

In other news, letter writer, your sign-off is almost perfect because your issue happens to be petty and practical.

The petty: You can't expect a partner to match your enthusiasm for tokens of affection. It's unreasonable to expect a constant train of trinkets.

The practical: I do think you should be worried about how you both handle money. You didn't tell us anything about his financial status – or yours – so I'll assume that you both have the means to buy dinners and presents. If that's the case, the problem is a lack of communication. Do you share any financial priorities? If you stay together long-term, how would the two of you compromise on spending?

There might be great and answers to those questions, but it's clear you haven't asked. It's time to talk about money, even if it's uncomfortable. I wouldn't focus on the gifts; it's more important to disclose how you spend and why, and to see if you can live with each other's habits in the future.

– Meredith

Readers? Petty? Practical?