Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Questions about the Gift (No, Not THAT Gift)

on May 28, 2015
Photo courtesy of nuttakit/freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of nuttakit/freedigitalphotos.net

We singles have had ample discussions about “the Gift of Singleness.” This post, rest assured, is not about that. I am curious, instead, about gifts from humans that we actually do want to receive.

What do we older singles do about gifts from men?

The way I learned it was, generally, that a woman should not accept gifts from a man with whom she is not in a relationship. And even in a relationship, a woman should not accept most expensive gifts. Whether the man is a suitor, a friend or any other male non-family member, expensive gifts are to be politely rebuffed. This gift ethic had something to do with either not leading a man on or avoiding expectations of sex being owed, as far as I can recall.

But what are we to do now that we are older? We have quite a lot of friends and not a lot of suitors that we need to be conscientious of. At various milestones in our lives, our friends—some male and single—want to celebrate us and give us gifts.

Under these circumstances, it would seem that gift giving by men who are our friends would have to be okay, right?

But here’s a wrinkle: If this stage of life finds our male friends with comfortable careers and bank accounts, and from a place of financial abundance a male friend wants to give us gifts that are expensive, is that okay?

It surely must be. The cost of a gift is not what gives the gift from one friend to another its value. It wouldn’t make sense to put an arbitrary dollar figure on gifts that are acceptable from male friends.

What’s money got to do with it? to paraphrase Tina Turner.

Yet, here’s another wrinkle: What if instead of simply giving a pricey gift, one of our flush male friends asks us, “What should I get you to celebrate this auspicious occasion?” And, to be honest, there are a few items we might like to receive that we are certain are well within his ability to afford.

Let’s say you are having a housewarming for your first home. Would it be appropriate to suggest to your male friend—or friend who is male—that you would like a big chair from Pottery Barn? Let’s say you are throwing yourself a swanky party for your fiftieth. If unexpected circumstances mean you will have a last-minute difficulty paying the caterer, do you ask your friend to take care of the catering bill? Let’s say you passed your nursing certification exam. Could you let a guy friend buy you a diamond tennis bracelet?

What do we do these days about men and gifts?

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