My Boyfriend Hasn't Bought me a B-Day Gift in 4 Years!!!! What do I do?

I know this question sounds materialistic... and I do love my boyfriend very deeply. He is very giving with his heart and his time... but for some reason the idea of giving gifts is a problem for him.

For the last 4 years of our relationship - he has celebrated my birthday - by buying me a sentimental card and then cooking me dinner. It is all very sweet and kind. And I love how special these gestures are.

This year for his 40th birthday I saved all year to buy him a luxury watch (over 5 grand) and took him out on the town to ensure the moment was special to him. In return this year he bought me a card ... and offered to take me out to dinner. Although very kind... he never has offered me a gift/token of any kind. I give him so much... and to be honest I feel taken advantage of being the one who is always giving and he always taking.

I asked him to forego Xmas gifts this year - becuase he says he's low on cash (although I still bought him lots!) and he gave me a sentimental love letter which I will cherish forever. However, he took that to mean also not buy me a birthday gift when I asked him why he doesn't give birthday gifts - flowers, anything. I am not asking for anything expensive ... just something to show he cares... and that all I give him is appreciated. We moved in together a month ago... and I me carrying all the bills... and helping him out financially.

When we talked about it last night... he got very defensive and upset. I didn't want to hurt his feelings but I was really taken aback by the fact he decided to spend $300 on my birthday on clothes for himself... yet didn't even think about a small gesture for me.

Should I breakup with him? Am I being used?


Most Helpful Guy

  • I actually joined this site so I could answer your question.

    I'm a guy who probably was once (and still is in many ways) like your man. Four years in, if he hasn't changed by now were you really expecting the world to shift in your favor?

    Could it be money? Sound like you buy him extremely valuable gifts and perhaps he can't reciprocate? What do you give a girl who gives you a $5000 watch? A $120 necklace doesn't stack up, if I was feeling strapped for cash I might give her nothing because I feel like I can't measure up. If this is the case try buying some gifts he can compete with.

    If that's not it, he may just not be the kind to lavish you in this way. And if you try and bring it up this invites an "I don't want to talk about it now" moment or worse a fight where he'll redirect the non-gift conflict to something like "I've been so busy at work, I just couldn't this year." Could you still love the man if you asked him for a nice letter every year and that was all you ever got?

    Believe me I've been there. I'm a little better now but it's hard pushing down my practical side. I'm just not the one to see value in expensive gifts ("Why buy a $500 necklace when the car needs tires") but my girlfriend has also learned to appreciate that I've got other qualities that make it worth sticking together.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! Very much appreciate your point-of-view. Indeed my boyfriend is a practical/rational man... and the idea of spending on even himself most days is a no-fly zone. The 300 he did spend on himself was holiday gift money... and I don't condone him for that at all.

      His other qualities - bar-none make him an amazing partner... and frugality is "one" of those qualities that I love about him.

      Thanks again for this point of view -- very helpful!

Have an opinion?

What Guys Said 6

  • I totally get where you are coming from, and I agree with you: unless he is totally in survival mode (and spending $300 on himself doesn't sound like it to me), he should be doing *something* in the realm of gift-giving.

    Yes, a card is great, and cooking for you is great, and if he was a super-poor college student who was wearing 3-year-old clothes and eating Top Ramen 4 nights a week, that would be enough. Bt at this point, he shouldn't have any problem finding $20-30 AT LEAST in his budget to buy you at least a small gift.

    BUT... honestly, you probably should have mentioned this to him long ago, or, if you didn't feel you could do that, you could have maybe mentioned it to his best buddy, so that his bro could have gotten him straightened out and he wouldn't have had to look bad in front of you. What I'm getting at is that many women make the mistake of failing to set expectations, and then getting upset when a guy fails to live up to those expectations that you've never expressed before. Should he have known this on his own? YES, we both agree that he should, but the reality is that everyone is different, and maybe gift-giving was never a priority in his family and he really just doesn't understand. It's also possible that he is just selfish and self-centered in this area, and is fully aware of what he's doing. If THAT is the case, then it might be something to consider as far as ending the relationship.

    The problem that right now, you really don't know which it is, because you (apparently) never discussed it before. That means you are judging him on an expectation you've never set with him, and that's not really fair.

    If you had, say, talked about this last year, and he spend his money on himself and not you THIS year, then you'd know for sure that he was just being selfish, and then taking some action would be totally justified. Right now, it isn't.

    Remember: I *AGREE* with you that a "normal person" would know he needs to buy his girlfriend a gift, no matter what, but I don't know if he's "normal" in this instance. Until we do know, it's too early to take action. Rather, it's time for discussion and setting expectations.

    • Thanks for taking the time to respond! I agree - in many ways I may have inadvertendly set unrealistic expectations around the b-day gift.

      After a discussion - Since my b-day falls so close to Xmas - he had confused my guidance for no Xmas gifts with also a b-day. Because he is in between jobs right now ... I had asked him to "make" me something instead... and suggested a love letter. Which he gave - and is truly the best Xmas gift ever! In the end he thought it counted for both birthday & xmas.

  • How old is he? I'm just... it sounds almost like a sugar momma thing. Are you two living together?

  • Maybe he can't afford it?

  • Is he rich ? Does he have a job ? Money ?

  • Just talk to him about it, seems like an inconsiderate thing really.

  • drop a hint sarcastically. when your b day is coming up say "I still remember that b day gift you got me last year...oh wait, nevermind."


What Girls Said 3

  • There are lot to things going on here and I want to break it down for you, and first I want you to look at the list below from Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages?"

    There are 5 main qualities that make someone feel the most loved, and here they are.

    1. Quality Time

    2. Gifts

    3. Physical Touch

    4. Words of Affirmation

    5. Acts of Service.

    Is the most important thing for you to feel really loved gifts? I'm guessing it is.

    What do you think your boyfriend's most important thing is to him? What makes him happiest? I'm guessing it is probably NOT gifts, and you are putting so much time, effort and way too much money on these things for him

    Often times, people do what what makes them feel loved, so your boyfriend's most important thing might be acts of service. That's what he does for you so that may be what makes him feel most loved.

    When you buy him a $5000 watch, it doesn't make him feel more love, in fact it probably makes him feel indebted to you, like he owes you something. That's a big gift that he might not really care about. He would rather have you make him dinner or tell him that he's handsome.

    You are doing to him what you want him to do for you, and it's working in the opposite way and is leaving you feeling bitter, hurt, used and confused. He didn't ask you to do so much for him did he? You told him to forget Christmas, so he did. He listened to what you said.

    You have to stop doing and doing and doing! Are you taking care of him because he doesn't have any money?

    There are ways you can talk with him that won't make him get defensive (for the most part). He probably feels emasculated because you are being more like his mommy, and not his lover.

    I would love to help you and I will offer you a free phone consultation. Please go to my website and send me an email so I can give you some live advice and help you much better.

    Please contact me, I know I can help you and your relationship!


    Dina Z Colada


    • Thanks for taking the time to respond. We had a chat -- and I pointed out our differences... and we cleared up the confusion.

      However -- I have to say I am a bit taken aback by your response ... peddling your counselling services ... anyone else think that is outa line?

    • I do offer my services as a coach because I love it, and I'm good at it. I'm glad my advice helped your problem that has been going on for 4 years. That's a long time. I love when I can help someone, and it is my business. I have spent thousands of hours and dollars on learning about the complexities of relationships. I do give lots of free advice. I also answer questions from my newsletter subscribers with no strings and I would love if you sign up for my email list. It's free advice for women!

  • Switch up your gifts.. Reciprocate on the same level by giving him homemade meals, cards and love letters. His frugal ways appreciate practical gifts.. Plus you can save the cash and treat your self to a lavish gift instead! Win/win! Now if he starts to complain (which he won't b/c he's frugal) you can bring up that you don't expect materialistic gifts.

  • I would feel very used and unloved if I was in your position! I really think every person deserves to be giving a token on love and kindness at least on one day out of the entire year on their birthday! And him spending tons of money on himself the one day of the year that should be about you is very spiteful and inconsiderate. It sounds like this kind of thing has been building up and it could only grow worse from there, If I were you I would break up with him, they're at plenty of men who could love you one day out I the year and not just take your money and spend it on himself.

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