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Refusing Gifts

Gifts come in many forms - items, surprise nights out, cards, compliments, empathetic touches, congratulations, opening doors, carrying bags, time to listen.

One gives of themselves to another without a requirement or want to receive something back.

To many sex is a gift, one is giving something of themselves to another and it is exclusive to the marriage. One is giving part of their soul exclusively to another. That's a very big gift.

I have been reading this group for some time now, too long. In this time a common theme I have seen is that many Refusers are unwilling to accept gifts in any form what so ever. Many times it is subtle and the author does not directly refer to it, but it is there. He/she does not like it when I reach out, he/she belittles my compliments, I never seem to buy the right (insert item here). Sex of course is simply not an option.

The joy and satisfaction of giving is taken from us. Even when we get it wrong in the gift / help / compliment department the fact that we even tried is taken from us. The sentiment behind the act of giving is taken from us by a refusal.

In my extensive learning curve when I was still in the 'trying to fix it' phase of my relationship I came across many possible reasons for this - that the Refuser views giving (of anything) as a transactional event, i.e. 'What do you want back for this?' and is unwilling to enter (in their minds) a binding but unspoken reciprocal agreement, another is the Refuser having personality disorders that include a trait of 'I am not worthy of this gift', another is a narcissistic approach 'It is not good enough for ME', I could go on.

At some point we stop. We have no choice. We switch off the 'giving' part of ourselves (to the spouse).

Just throwing it out there, but who on here finds this too?

I am also aware that many refusers on here do not adopt this trait and are more 'Take, take, take, me, me, me' and use refusal of sex and intimacy as punishment or as manipulative tools.
Endthegame Endthegame 41-45, M 12 Responses Jan 15, 2013

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There's a lot of meat on these ideas, and a couple of other things have bubbled up thinking about it.

One of the joys I've had in my life is that of trading value with other competent people I trust (in business). There is a powerful bond that comes from this, and it requires us to be acutely aware of what is of value to the other person. We are attentive to each others needs, and delighted to satisfy them.

I suspect that refusers often have a deficiency or unwillingness to find out what is of value to us, or actually (how could one not know!) - know darn well that they are not willing to give us what we really want. Think the classic "what do you want for a special present" - doh, a blow job would do nicely.

Therefore they are bankrupt when it comes to receiving gifts because they know they cannot give us what we want even if this were a trade or exchange.

The other aspect I was thinking about was the prevalence of empathy defects in refusers. Again, this makes it impossible to assess what the other person values or is feeling, therefore it makes them very uncomfortable when they receive gifts because they cannot really reciprocate.

Very well said. I am a gift giver and like to receive them, too but my bride does not like me to give her gifts. She doesn't even like for me to bring her a glass of water. I now realize it is exactly as you say, she has nothing to offer in return. So, I lose the pleasure of giving and she is trying to control again with her PA behavior.

Very nice, thanks.

She does not like to accept the glass of water because she is afraid that accepting it will put her under an obligation to do something nice for you in return. That is my perception.
That you are citing p-a behaviour as well, only supports that view.

"...another is the Refuser having personality disorders that include a trait of 'I am not worthy of this gift'..."
I hate getting gifts or compliments from people. I generally feel terribly ashamed when I get a gift.

I share your feelings to a lessor extent but love giving gifts(not so much compliments). I believe in many ways this is a learned behavior for me

Oh, an my husband loves receiving gifts and giving gifts unless you count sex with me!

I tend to give out compliments a lot, and gifts when I think about it-I ended up buying all of my STBX's clothes for her, because she hated shopping.
But getting complimented and getting gifts? It I've fooled the person into thinking I'm worth their time and trouble.

I mostly just feel embarrassed, and feel like I never seem happy and thankful enough, even if I do love the gift. HATE complements

Hylierandom, with work on yourself this will change. I used to feel like this, and dealing with my mother who refuses ANY gift, made me realize how maddening it is for the giver, and leads only to being taken advantage of, as well.

It MAY come, as with me, from having bad experiences whenever you are given anything - compliment or gift - you realize you will have to give back in terms of unacceptable abuse. In real life, as adults, this will not happen as it did as kids.

Now I smile, say "Thank you", and try to give a compliment. And I don't stress about ***-for-tat presents any longer. It's part of healing from emotional abuse.

Zsu has nailed it Hylie. This is a (common) symptom of low self esteem. Please work on your self esteem with a therapist - otherwise you are likely doomed to end up in another relationship where YOU are devalued. This happens because, at a subconscious level, your mind tells you "I am not worthy of someone better". {{{Hugs}}}

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Could not agree more, ETG. I think the acceptance of gifts, or, to be precise, the inability to accept a gift or a compliment has to do with control. People who don't have issues with control don't have issues accepting gifts on the whole, regardless of their sexual orientation (as in: none).
To me the ability to accept compliments and/or gifts has actually become one of the indicators of a person's outlook, or a red flag respectively.


I agree. Someone with the 'anti gift' thing going on sends a warnibg to me. Its more the refusal or belittlement of compliments that I find the worse.

p, i think the control issue is a nail right on the head. yes.

I understand what you're getting at. My once-refuser (no longer refusing because the offer isn't made anymore) used to give me little to no information about what he wanted and then would ignore and never use my gifts to him. I now give him the exact same gifts for each respective 'gifting' holiday, and yes, any joy I may once have felt in the process is gone.

That sucks....

Functional relationships = "me" and "me" and "we" as an almagam.

Dysfunctional relationships = "me" plus another person.

Tread your own path.

Such a good observation. H has never wanted to be taken care of or pampered when sick. When we first were dating, I upbraided him for not allowing me to just be nice at him the first time he got sick. He doesn't talk about it much, but is always physically hurting somewhere. I'd enjoy giving him massages where necessary, but along with not talking about it is not accepting any physical succour from me.

H also has a very difficult time with gifts. I was seduced by the, "I like to give gifts when they aren't expected rather than when I'm supposed to" line. What it really means is that he doesn't often give gifts at appropriate times *and* doesn't think about surprising me with anything. I even had to get a family friend take the offspring shopping for my birthday present several months after the fact.

Pervasively parsiminious, indeed., parsimonious . . .

Well, this all describes MY ex as well... down to the wanting to hide when sick, rather than letting me help in any way - then expecting me to do the same...

Yes absolutely!! None of my presents were ever the exact right thing - so I needn't have wasted my time. But all of his deserved a big fanfare, and of course, came at some sort of price (no, of course not sex, you fools!!) But they were usually rubbish gifts he'd bought off some guy in the pub.
I'm a pretty good cook, and trained as a chef, and he used to make sure he'd eaten before (usually some crap) and couldn't eat what I'd made. If it was a special meal, he'd always come home late.
Very perceptive ETG - it does feel good to be out of that madness. xxx

I can tell... :) Hope your well down there.

Really good mate - almost sane again ;) xx

Whenever he gave me gifts there was always a catch. The pearl necklace - his friend went to the jewelry store to buy their fiancee a necklace, so EX had to do the same of course - but afterwards, he told me "I can't cover the rent because I bought the necklace, can you cover for me this month?".

If I didn't show extreme excitement at every thing he ever got me, he'd pout and sulk for days.

Before any surprise, he'd always give it away by getting super anxious and getting angry at me for some percieved wrong. For example, the baby shower - we went out for lunch first, and when I wanted to sit in the restaurant instead of heading straight home - he growled at me behind my friends' back - "we're going to be late for your surprise baby shower, don't ruin it for everyone!"

I tried to head all this off by saying, don't buy me anything big, let's get practical gifts this year; etc. Finally I just dreaded any and all special occasions...

Crazy-making! Really.

Oh my, struck a cord here. Many dynamics found here are of the narccistic/codependant, or abusive/doormat, borderline/whipped, and passiveaggressive/confused to hell.

Our flavour is toxic shame/codependant with hypogonadism thrown in. Yummy? No.

And because we still had a lot of affection, care bear love, I was perpetually confused.

Things are progressing positively, and painfully for us. I have hesitated to post our progress, as I have developped a most unlovely trait, cynicism.

The cynic is a disappointed idealist by another name. (can't remember who said that - but I think it's a great bon mot).

Oui, un tres bon mot!

And I have been accused of idealism a time or two in my life.

I think I will add this bon mot to another favorite, and applicable one, of mine. "Depression is anger that's run out of steam"

ETG, I think that refuser behavior is pervasive. I believe there is a parsimony of spirit and heart with which they live. When we were dating, there were a number of gift exchanges that I believed showed me his kindness; they actually made me fall in love with him. For the first birthday of mine that we spent together, he bought me a bag for my golf clubs; I liked it that he noticed that I needed one. Our second Christmas together was soon after his father died. I knew that his heart was broken, but he went to incredible effort to see that we had a happy holiday together. In writing this and reflecting back on that time, I can see that how I perceived his efforts was incorrect; without getting further into the stories, his actions were more about him than me. That makes me incredibly sad.

For our last 10 or more Christmases, DH preceeds our gift exchange by saying "I thought we weren't buying anything for each other this year". It's a wet blanket over the whole proceeding and I dread it. Sometimes our gifts to each other were big, but recently, they've been small. This year we bought a big TV, so that was sufficient and the gifts under the tree were modest. I got him a customized and meaning-filled drawing of him with our beloved cat and it moved him to tears. He got me a charm for my bracelet...of a cat. God forbid he pick out one that showed love or romance. When I fussed a bit and expressed appreciation for the charm, he just had to say "well, you left enough hints!!" to which I replied, "I simply reminded you that I had the bracelet because it is new and this is the first holiday for which you could buy me a charm."

There have been times where he took joy in gifting, but it just doesn't seem to be that way any more. He is not cheap, but he doesn't give gifts willingly...even to our six nieces and nephews. They know that Aunt MR is the one who puts herself out there for them; they all reach out and communicate with me, while DH has put a barrier there. Then he wonders why they gravitate to me. It's not the material item of the gift that they's the kindness, thought, and generosity that seems to shine through.

You are spot-on with your observations, usual.

Of course, the worst is finding the right card for holidays...but that's another discussion.



It sucks MR.
Its about giving and warmly receiving. My wife buys generously for children and nephews etc. But the emphasis is on balance of value and appropriate gift for age. The actual joy is missing. It becomes a set of tasks alone.

This reminds me of a gorgeous online video-event thing around troubled relationships Tony Robbins did in Oz about a year ago (I admit to a soft spot for Tony...)

A woman there was addicted to gambling (and having little sex with H), and she would trade sex with her husband in return for gambling.

Tony had already asked her when she had last blown him (oh, ages ago), and she ends up saying that she associated sex with trade, and "you're not supposed to do that".

No, says Tony, you're suppose to give it...... a magic moment.

I think one of the aspects of what you refer to is that they have an aversion to feeling bound or beholden to someone else - which would preclude intimacy.

That would be the transactional nature. 'Beholden to be kind'. I believe one should not feel beholden to be kind to their spouse, it should be natural to be kind. Surely.

You'd have thought so. And don't call me Shirley.

Can we settle on Sheila? (Since you brought up the Oz reference and all ...)

I have seen this in my relationship, the belittling of gifts. He complains about gifts he gets from everyone, almost all are a tiny bit wrong, not quite the right thing. He has done this the entire time I have known him, even making negative comments about gifts other people have given me.

He has even done this with gifts he has given me! For my 40th birthday he gave me the gift of a vacation anywhere I wanted to go. I chose Ireland, and then I ended up doing all the planning for it, too. In the planning and waiting to go on this once in a lifetime vacation, he belittled my choice and said "I don't think it will be anything like you think it will" and made fun of me for wanting to go there. It was an amazing vacation and surpassed my expectations, (even though it was the place where the downfall of our marriage started, lots of frank and frustrating conversations happened there).

His condescension and selfishness made me not want to give him anything, including my love and support. He killed my kindness toward him.

That was in the days when you were still Bluebunny - nice to see you sunny!

I do think once we start on the counter refusal the giving part of us (to the spouse) gets put back in the box. A symptom then becomes the spouse has a little legitimacy in the comments of 'You never... (insert specific lack of kindness here)'. As you said, the Refuser can kill kindness. I just hope in this couse of events we learn to open up the kindness box when we are back in the land of 'normal'.

Thanks! =) Still here, mostly lurking.....

I've had the "you never ______ anymore" but it has stopped now that he knows we are on the way out of the marriage.

Same here! I find it ironic that my spouse refused and belittled me for buying gifts, being spontaneously romantic, wanting to help around the house etc, and I was shot down when I complimented her - and lots more - had the audacity to throw in the odd "You never _______ anymore".
When I explained the reasoning behind this, aka 'The truth', she had nothing to say. In the end it comes back to bite them, but unlike their malicious or crazy reasoning I can not help but feel ours is righteous somehow as part of our building healthy boundaries on what behaviour is acceptable or not. Saying this, it goes against the grain for me to not be kind, that's the change I found hard, but also what trapped me within the unhealthy 'doormat' psychology I was boiled frogged into in the first place.

Ah, yes, me too.....I even have notes from counseling homework where he ignored or shot down compliments. My favorite is when he complains about something (what I cook for dinner is a good one) and then thanks me for it in the next breath. Never ends. I've started trying to ignore it so it doesn't drive me crazy.

I have the "doormat" disease as well, and it is a big part of why I'm still here, making a slow escape instead of bolting for the door!

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