Dear Annie: I’ve always been great at gift-giving. I enjoy giving others things that they will thoroughly enjoy. But others are rarely as good at getting gifts for me. I don’t think I should feel bad for being a little materialistic; I think everyone likes getting thoughtful presents. I recently read “The 5 Love Languages,” which showed me that “receiving gifts” is a very valid desire. I know I can’t control other people’s actions, but is there some way I can make peace with always being the more thoughtful person in my relationships? – Gift-Giving Guru
Dear Gift-Giving Guru: It’s not only about asking others to speak your love language; it’s about learning to understand theirs. Just because you enjoy giving thoughtful gifts doesn’t mean your partner isn’t equally thoughtful in other ways, such as the other four languages mentioned in Gary Chapman’s book – words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and physical touch. Encourage your partner to read the book, too, so you can share a better appreciation of each other’s communication style.
Dear Readers: I recently printed a letter from “Put on the Back Burner,” who had been dating a man for three months when he told her he needed to focus on helping his 17-year-old son, who was having legal troubles. I said that she shouldn’t wait for him and that she deserves better treatment, but many people felt I was too harsh on the man. Read on.
TOO HARSH: Though I agree “Put on the Back Burner” shouldn’t wait for the man she was dating, I feel you judged him way too harshly.
They only dated for three months; then, obviously, something really bad happened with his son. He needed to put all his energy into dealing with that situation and apparently felt it was too much to put on her so early in their relationship. When bad things happen, sometimes good people have to make hard choices.
Though he did not break up with her in the best way, at least he was honest with her. He didn’t ask her to wait. No telling how long he’ll have to focus on whatever happened. But he isn’t a villain at all. He seems like a good man, overwhelmed by bad circumstances – and a good father for focusing on his son when his son needs him. Thanks for listening.
LOYAL READER: I read your column every day and enjoy it very much. I almost always agree with you. I’ve learned a lot from you. Today you replied to “Put on the Back Burner” that her boyfriend was showing his “true colors” after an issue with his teenage son. I feel that you judged him too harshly without knowing the full situation. First of all, they had been dating for only three months. His son got into some kind of legal trouble and trouble at school. No clue what the issue was. Dad decided he must make the child his priority for the time being. Kudos to him! And he was honest with his lady friend. He did not simply “ghost” her. Stinks for her, for them, for the relationship, but I’m guessing the situation was pretty serious, needing all his time, attention and emotional energy.
She probably shouldn’t wait for him. But at least he didn’t lead her on or even give her much hope. Better to find out in three months than in three years.
Dear Loyal Reader: I received a dozen or so other letters echoing your sentiments. I concede that I may have been too harsh on that man. At least he was direct about his priorities. Thank you all for writing.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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