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Uncomfortable with Lavish Gifts

Uncomfortable with Lavish Gifts


Dear Rachel,

I have been dating a man who is really rich, and I come from a simple, blue-collar background. He is constantly showering me with lavish gifts, which I appreciate, but am sort of uncomfortable receiving them. Just yesterday, he bought me expensive diamond earrings, and it wasn't even my birthday. Maybe I'm being ridiculous, but I find all this gift giving too much. Any thoughts on the matter?

Uncomfortably Spoiled
Miami, FL

Dear Uncomfortably Spoiled,

Giving a gift is a way of showing appreciation and gratitude. Receiving a gift is a way of reciprocating that appreciation, by acknowledging the thanks due and accepting it. Your feelings of discomfort surrounding the gifts that you are receiving, imply that either you are feeling a bit insecure about his sincerity, or you are feeling insecure about your role as the recipient.

It is said of the Great Sage of the Talmud, Raba, that he always began his classes and lectures with a joke. He explained that the very telling of the joke opened up his students’ senses. It established an essential connection and it set the stage for the learning that was to follow. Connection is a vital ingredient in any relationship. There are lots of ways to make a connection with someone you care about. Gift giving is definitely one of those ways.

Ultimately, gifts are symbols. At best, they are physical expressions of emotion and sentiment. A gift itself can be very significant, but the emotion that prompts its giving is the underling meaning of it. So, it may be important for you to ask yourself, or better yet, to discuss together, what was the thinking behind those diamond earrings? What was the intention behind the gift? Could it be that these earrings are an expression of devotion and a symbol of hope for a future together? Or are you sensing something else?

It also needs to be understood that being a receiver is not always easy. Because women are innately capable and talented human beings, it can be tempting to live with a deliberate sense of independence. Sort of an, “I don’t need help from anyone” martyr-like complex. It is important for a woman to know that she can take care of herself. But, the trick is understanding that receiving assistance, or acknowledgment or appreciation for the everyday things that we do, does not take away from our independence. On the contrary, it can help establish it. In other words, receiving expensive gifts from a man that can afford to give them does make you a charity-case; it makes you worthy of luxury. What accepting his gift does is confirm your status as a special and appreciated woman, with the added incentive of a potentially very special relationship.

The fact that you mention his wealth juxtaposed to your background highlights this sense of uncertainty on your part, in terms of being on the receiving end. I am curious if this distinction of your financial backgrounds is one that you both make, or if this is more of an issue for you? The bottom line is you need to figure out exactly what makes you uncomfortable about the gifts he’s given you. Simply put, is it about him or is it about you? There is no right or wrong answer here, what is important is the answer that rings most true to you.

One more thing to keep in mind… Many times, we give gifts to say the things that we feel ill equipped to say. Maybe you are the kind of woman who appreciates a less symbolic version of gift giving and a more straightforward and simple offering. Perhaps, as you two continue to build your relationship together, you can encourage him to verbalize his feelings for you. You can also let him know how much you might appreciate a card with heartfelt sentiment.

But, remember this: making a relationship work means not only connecting, but also investment. Investing in yourself, and investing in your partner. It means taking the time to help him understand what makes you tick, and visa-versa. Men are not mind readers, what may be obvious and implicit to you may not be at all to him. If you are interested in making this relationship work, then it sounds like you both have to spend some more time communicating concretely with each other.

I wish you both much success on your journey together.


“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sarah Zadok.

Sarah Zadok is a childbirth educator, doula and freelance writer. She lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, with her husband and four children.

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Anonymous December 2, 2015

I totally understand Miss Uncomfortably Spoiled. I am in a similar situation. My boyfriend is rich compare to my living standard and life style. We have been dated about 8 months. I think we both feel so much about each other. and he always offering me luxury trips and asked me what I like as gifts. In fact, he has not bought me any expensive gift yet but I can sensed his sincerity. He even got upset that I don't tell him what I like. I have told him once that I am not a gift person, which is not so true but I just don't feel comfortable to tell what I like and receive his gifts. I like simple life. He always take me to expensive restaurants, expensive wine. I am in a situation that don't how to develop this relationship due to the "distance" of finance situation.

Miss confused Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 1, 2011

Wealthy Boyfriend You're NOT spoiled - spoiling means having a sense of entitlement, believing the world "owes" you something.

Your wealthy boyfriend may have this belief that "showering" you with gifts is a symbol of his love for you. It's not. True love is based on feelings, NOT things. Maybe he's afraid that if he doesn't give you anything, you won't love him.

Your feelings are NOT ridiculous - you're concerned about whether or not he knows the true meaning of love. He doesn't need to buy you expensive gifts. Are you afraid that if you tell him, you'll hurt his feelings?

You have to be honest with him. Tell him you love the gifts, but he doesn't need buy anything expensive to let you know he loves you. Tell him that his caring heart and sense of humor are what's most important, NOT money. Reply

Anonymous January 22, 2010

yes, you should take my mother (may her memory be blessed) used to say:"when someone gives you a present, say thank you and take".
this is from me who never got anything from my spouse all thirty one years of marriage. thank G-d for it, it is so nice to be appreciated,lady. Reply

ariana shira September 30, 2008

communication! that's all it takes. and it's the ONLY ONLY ONLY way to happiness. Reply

Julien Orlando, FL via August 11, 2008

Talk to the man. Communicate. You are used to different lifestyles. A simple rose may say more to you than diamond studs. Unfortunately some men are not very communicative and prefer to shower with gifts. If this form of communication is acceptable to you go for it but it is obvious that there is something else you need or want from him. Verbalize it. Use visuals if neccessary. You may feel more comfortable with a picnic than an expensive dinner. . .but you have to tell him.

SassySarahRuth December 6, 2006

Uncomfortably Spoiled? So, say so! Many years ago a man I had dated wanted to give me 'diamond earrings' for my birthday. I told him, "How sweet, but I am sooo sorry, I won't wear them. I don't wear diamonds or gold, I prefer silver, can I have something else instead please?" and giggled and smiled...he said, "Sure, what do you want?" I said "I would love a revolver handgun! I like to target shoot sometimes, and want a gun for protection."...and that is the story how I got my gun, thank G-d we were both pro-gun and had simular politics, that made it easy.

My point being that if you are uncomfortable, say so!...But in a sweet and sincere manner. Men are not mind readers, and need to be told what what we want, desire, and need. You will find that they actually prefer it! Try it...sincerely tell him what you feel...ask him if when he wants to lavish you with gifts, can he 'sometimes' instead give you a check for what he would spend, and donate it to your Shul or to tzedaka (charity).


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