We’ve all met that special person and because we are enamored and interested, we start reaching for the wallet. Flowers, jewelry, and other gifts used to express our affection. We all have different finances and resources and for some, the cost of the gifts is not a problem. But we must temper our giving as to be commensurate with where the relationship is at any given time. If you have been dating for a month and you have showered your date with gifts every time you see them, it doesn’t really match up with what should be going on intellectually and emotionally.

In the Beginning…

In those early points of a dating experience, let’s face it; you are dating because you are attracted to each other. Wanting to buy gifts is a nice expression and there may not seem like there is anything wrong with it. But you may be setting a trap for yourself when you cannot keep up with an early precedence that is set if you are going crazy early on.

If you have dated a few times, there is nothing wrong with bringing flowers or a small gift to express your feelings. But don’t be too aggressive with the purchase. Expensive perfumes or jewelry are out. You don’t know her well enough yet to know her likes and wants and it could be perceived as just weird at that point.

Gifting After a Few Months

You’ve gotten to know each other. It seems that you are both interested in a longer-term relationship. Things have gone from casual dating to something potentially more serious. Here comes another temptation, especially if you have the means, to begin giving more elaborate and expensive gifts. There are people out there, more material people, who will greatly appreciate your generosity. But is that the type of person you want to draw in?

If you really want to wow her, do something more personal. Write a letter. The art is not dead despite our tablets and smart phones. There is something very personal about getting a hand written note. And when we are in conversation, sometimes it is hard to adequately express our feelings with our mouths. Written word tends to bring out our true voice and inner thoughts. If you have a way with words, a poem is a stellar gift, too. The point being, if you can give a gift that took some time and thought, you are much more likely to please your date. Anyone can go buy flowers or necklaces but the most precious gifts are more personal. Society bombs us with material imagery, but many of the more miserable people in the world are the ones for whom money is not an object. Maybe that’s not a coincidence. Don’t be the guy who compensates with gifts in place of emotional intelligence.

Long Term Relationships and Gifts

If you’ve been together more than year, a more elaborate gift has more value. Giving these gifts too early can be a mistake but at this point in your relationship it may be appropriate. Unlike when you first started dating and into the first few months, you now know a lot more about your partner. We all have material desires, things we want, but because they are not necessary, we avoid spending money on them out of being reasonable or from a fear of feeling guilty later. Gaining knowledge of such a desire from your partner can be a great idea for that special gift. But don’t discount the earlier advice that a personal gift has the most impact.

Back when I was married, my wife was somewhat obsessed with Sean Lennon (John Lennon’s son). He had a new album and was touring in smaller venues. He was playing at a club where I had been backstage and knew the layout. I bought tickets for his show and told my wife we were meeting a bunch of family member for dinner in Baltimore. She was very surprised to learn upon arriving that we were in fact going to a Sean Lennon show. To top it off, during his encore, I told her to follow me. I went through the backstage door and waited in the hall where I knew Lennon would exit. Upon coming into the hall, I pulled out his CD, introduced my wife and asked for his autograph. She was so awestruck she couldn’t even speak. Later she told me it was the nicest gift she ever received. Including tickets and the CD, the gesture cost less than $100.

Whatever your choice for gifts, make sure it reflects where you are in the relationship and not something less or more. Also, don’t go broke in the process. Do not spend beyond your means. If you are dipping into your gas or grocery budget, you have gone a step too far.