Presents can be a powerful tool in bringing two people together. But in this case, they drove a couple apart.
Taken to the Reddit’s “Am I the A***ole?” community, a user under the anonymous name u/throwgift1, asked if he was wrong for not buying something for his girlfriend on her birthday.
It wasn’t always like that. In fact, the guy liked surprising his partner. But eventually, he got the feeling that she only cared about receiving and grew tired of being the only one giving.
Continue scrolling to hear his story and let us know in the comments what you think of the whole situation.
Image credits: Blaise Alleyne (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Yan Krukov (not the actual photo)
Image credits: throwgift1
No wonder this post went viral. Gift-giving has long been a favorite subject for studies on human behavior, with psychologists, anthropologists, economists, and marketers all sharing their takes.
Interestingly, a paper by Lara B. Aknin and Lauren J. Human published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology investigated the perceptions and relational outcomes of gifts in six studies and found a strong and consistent predilection for giving and receiving recipient-centric gifts.
The researchers also discovered that the feeling of closeness engendered in the gift partner was more intense when the gift reflected the giver rather than the recipient.
In the words of the authors, “Giving a gift that reﬂects the giver’s true self led both givers and receivers to feel closer to one another.”
This radical example of a Reddit post aside, some people stop doing gifts after, consciously cutting back on spending. But psychologists say that abandoning this practice with loved ones may not be the best solution.
People who refuse to accept or exchange gifts during the holidays may be missing out on an important connection with family and friends.
“That doesn’t do a service to the relationship,” Ellen J. Langer, a Harvard psychology professor, told The New York Times. “If I don’t let you give me a gift, then I’m not encouraging you to think about me and think about things I like. I am preventing you from experiencing the joy of engaging in all those activities. You do people a disservice by not giving them the gift of giving.”
The social value of giving has been recognized very, very long ago. For thousands of years, some native cultures have engaged in the potlatch, a complex ceremony that celebrates extreme giving. Although cultural interpretations vary, often the status of a given family in a clan or village was dictated not by who had the most possessions, but instead by who gave away the most. The more lavish and bankrupting the potlatch, the more prestige gained by the host family.
Keeping this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, according to some researchers, gift giving also played a part in evolution.
Think about it, men who were the most generous may have had the most reproductive success with women. (Most notably, they used food in exchange for sexual access and grooming has been documented in our closest ape relative, the chimpanzee.) Similarly, women who were skilled at giving, be it extra food or a well-fitted pelt, helped sustain the family provider as well as her children.
Maybe OP’s girlfriend wasn’t all that interested in forming such a union?
After reading the story, people were curious why OP was still dating this woman