What To Do When Your Partner Gives You A Bad Gift

November 20, 2017  |  
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Receiving a bad gift is pretty awkward. Receiving a bad gift from your significant other is not only awkward, but also complicated. It’s not like when your aunt or old friend from college gives you a present you less-than-love. You barely see those people! You can store that present away in the garage, just bring it out when the gift givers visit, and they’ll never even realize you don’t use it. In some cases, you can donate the present and the gift giver will never be the wiser. But your significant other is around a lot. He’s watching you and wondering when you’re going to wear that sweater with that sassy French saying on it or when you’re going to use your egg yolk separator. Not only that, he really, really, wanted to nail this. Your aunt once removed just gave you something to be polite. Here is how to react when your partner gives you a bad gift.


Respond instantly

Any hesitation or delay on your part will tell your partner you don’t like the gift. Think about it: when you love a gift, you cannot hold in your reaction for a millisecond. If it helps, have the thing you wanted in mind when you open his gift, and imagine it when you see what he gave you. It will help your acting.

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Remember his effort

No matter what your partner gives you, remember that he put effort into this. He put time and thought into it. He thought about your life and thought, “What would make her days so much better?” (He got it wrong, but he did put thought into it). That’s a gift in and of itself.

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Give him a kiss

Hey, he can’t see your facial expression if you’re kissing him. That should buy you a few extra seconds to come up with what you’re going to say or get the right look on your face. Plus, kissing him really does make you smile, so that helps.

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“You know me so well”

Try the classic, “You know me so well.” If you’re not great at pretending to be giddy or excited, a solid, “You know me so well” pairs well with a more down-played facial reaction. Your partner may think you’re just stunned and impressed into silence.

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Ask where he got it

If you ask him where he found it or how he knew to get it for you, you’ll buy some time, too. You’ll turn the attention onto him this way, the pressure is off of you to say something. And, hearing the story behind the gift—the thought and effort—will probably make you genuinely smile.

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Don’t overdo it on the lie

Unless you’re some incredibly-trained actor, don’t try to say something like, “This is the most wonderful present I’ve ever received and I’ve never loved anything so much!” And don’t make promises you can’t keep like, “I’ll use it every single day!” If you’re a bad liar, keep your lie small.

Don’t get mad

Whatever you do, don’t get mad. You’re not 12 years old anymore. Yes, you really wanted the watch you pointed out in the jewelry store and yet, here you stand, with one of those salt stones for a meditation room that you do not have. But getting angry never improves the situation: it makes you look like a brat.

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When it comes to domestic gifts

Vacuum cleaners, oven mitts, standing mixers and the like—try not to get the wrong idea. While it may seem like your partner is being pretty sexist and insinuating you must love cooking and cleaning because you’re a woman, he isn’t. Don’t forget that men have fix-it brains. They love finding solutions. Your partner has probably just heard you complain that your old vacuum cleaner sucks and takes forever to clean the place or that your oven mitts are worn out. He genuinely though you’d find this gift thoughtful.

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But, you can joke about the practical item

After you have been very grateful and acknowledged how thoughtful the vacuum cleaner is, you can make a joke like, “Hopefully we both get some use out of this!” Or you can comment about the oven mitts, “How sweet! You can use these to make me dinner.” If you two are close and have good rapport, you can drop a little hint that he went a bit too utilitarian with this gift.

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If he buys you clothes that are too big/too small

You have to understand that men have not idea what size women’s clothes out to be. He’s probably heard you call some of your friends “skinny bitches” for being size extra smalls, and automatically assumed that meant you aren’t anywhere near a size extra small. The size large sweater he got you doesn’t mean he thinks you’re chubby. He’s just clueless.

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You can exchange sizes

The one saving grace about a partner buying you clothes you don’t like is that you can say the size is wrong, go return it, and pretend they were out of your size, and exchange it for something you really do like.


Yes, you need to wear it

Whether you keep the original clothing item or exchange it, you do need to wear it. Look: is wearing a ridiculous crop top with some obscure band on it so bad when you think of how happy it makes your partner? Wear it on vacation where nobody knows you.


Display items in your bedroom

If your partner gives you some painting or odd trinket he wants you to display, you can just display it in your bedroom. Say you love having it close—in your most intimate room. This gets you off the hook of hanging it in the living room.

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Be happy you have someone who buys you gift

Think of all the single individuals out there buying themselves presents during the holidays. You’re fortunate to have someone who loves you enough to put time and effort into buy you a (albeit the wrong) gift.

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Give more direction next year

Consider this a lesson. Next year, you’ll be far more direct about what you want. You’ll start sending him photos of things you like a month before the holidays, with the caption, “Present idea… ;-)”

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