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Gift Giving Differs for Men and Women

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Gifts, both the giving and receiving of them, create different emotions in men and women. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering how the sexes are not similarly wired in the way they think about life and relationships.

Why does this matter? Understanding how gifts translate to men and women helps us learn about each other, improve our relationships and thus, our quality of life. Most all of us desire that knowledge, peace, and joy.

Meredith Small wrote an article on Todd Kashdan's new book Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (William Morrow). Amongst the discoveries in the book was that men often, but not always, find gift receiving a hassle and burdensome, while women, as most of us know, delight in receiving a gift, on many levels.

While not all men or all relationship giving is the same, many men do find receiving to be stressful because of the law of reciprocating. They don't want that "to do" in their life. Women, to the contrary, see the joy of being thought of and considered special, and enjoy the wonderment of seeing what they've been given.

Women derive great satisfaction in thinking of others, finding a gift that could make someone happy, and then giving it to them. They also desire this kind of thoughtfulness in their own lives. Most men, sadly, do not live their lives this way. They don't focus on this kindness in their existence.

So what approach do you take as a man or a woman? If you're a man, realize that gift giving, especially when for no discernible reason and combined with genuine thoughtfulness, stirs powerful and positive emotions in most women.

If you're a woman, realize that most men don't need gifts to feel loved. Giving is in your nature, however, so maybe tell him you found something he thought he'd like and just wanted him to have it because he's special. Tell him the act doesn't require him to gift in return.

He won't believe it, of course, but that's all right. As long as he hears it and feels you're sincere, the tension and discomfort will be cut.

He'll likely still want to do something nice in return, which is what healthy relationships are all about anyway. 

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About Michael Toebe on Behavior, Culture & Relationships