If you willingly clicked on the link to this article, it's probably because you're stumped on what to buy your significant other. I'm writing this piece in the context of my own girlfriend's birthday, but you could apply this advice to any holiday or relationship.
That said, you aren't here to listen to me or my story, so I won't bore you with a three hundred page novel like a recipe website would. You know what I'm talking about-the five act play about the blogger's family recipe that comes before the actual recipe. Anyway...I won't be doing that. We're going straight to the meat.
Here are some things to keep in mind, when shopping for your significant other…
Don't forget the date of the occasion. Seriously…don't do it…especially birthdays…
Are they employed? Do they have disposable income? If not, your job is easier. Just buy them the things that are on their mind. When your significant other passes a showroom window, sees a nice jacket, and sighs, take note-that's a sign. Or when they're scrolling through Amazon, and say, "I should add that to my wish list," similarly you should take note. Just as when they talk endlessly about a certain gift in conversation. You've been listening to what they say, right? You didn't doze off in the middle of your conversation when they said how they wanted a new pair of boots, right?
Well, hopefully you didn't. If so, your journey ends here.
But if their wallet is full, then you've probably got a taller order. They already buy the things they want or need. That means you have to buy them the thing they don't know they want. You have to figure out the thing that they will want. Essentially, you first have to buy yourself some tarot cards and predict the future.
My first thought is something we always talk about doing? What's an experience you always talk about sharing? For me and my own, this usually means skiing. So maybe I'd purchase some lift tickets, heated socks, or some new snow pants. And for every season that isn't snowed over, this means hiking. So, with spring fast approaching, I would likely purchase her some new hiking shoes, made especially waterproof for the mud season.
But if your relationship doesn't change with the season, it's time to think of other things that will change with time. Mood, for one. Perhaps a stressful event approaches, like employee reviews or tax day, so a de-stressing gift would be in order. Chocolates, a massage day, or whatever they find relaxing. Some people listen to death punk as a means to melt away, so maybe even a new record.
The gift could be anything. The point is, can you use your partner's schedule to figure out what they will want?
Take a walk.
Go on. Go outside. Leave your phone at home and head to the stores.
Walk through the stores you and your partner frequents. Run your hand over the items in the store like the ticker on a prize wheel. Traipse through the aisles, look for catchy colors, follow your nose, and pick something. This is the point when you trust your gut.
A reason you have been struggling to find something is because you're looking for something they clearly want, but don't already have. It's time to take a risk and buy them something they may not want. You're looking for something they could come to like. Like a shirt they don't fit into yet, their appreciation for the item will grow with time.
My girlfriend once gifted me a journal with no lines to write on. I'm a writer. I flipped through the pages. In my head, I wondered what I was supposed to do with this. It was effectively useless to me. But outwardly I smiled and said thanks.
"It's so you can draw things," she said, handing me a sleeve of pencils.
I never once expressed a desire to draw. But I gave it a go anyway. The next day, with a little bit of time on my hands, I tried drawing a rose. It was ugly, scribbled on uncertainly and smudged by the heel of my hand. It was not pretty, but I liked the experience. If not for the act of creating something, at the very least for using a gift from my girl. The simple act of appreciating her gift made me appreciate it more.
So even a shot in the dark could prove helpful. I know this might not instill confidence in you, but you're at step four in a five-step blog.
And what if I told you there was a way to avoid all this confusion in the first place?
An idea I've floated before is creating a "treat me" wish list. You could also call it a rainy day wish list. It's a wish list of all the things you wouldn't buy yourself. This means extraneous things that you can't justify buying yourself, but which you'd readily accept if given to you.
Think of the gifts you don't quite have the means to afford. Or the gifts which are too self indulgent to justify. This could be some expensive imported chocolate you had once. It costs ten dollars per grape-sized piece, but it tastes like a creamy slice of heaven. Each piece is wrapped in gold leaf and is a full body experience. It's addictive, like a drug, and you'll swallow the entire packet in twenty minutes. It's a disgusting, hedonistic experience you could never justify paying for…
…but if someone else bought it…well then you would eagerly indulge yourself.
So I recommend creating this "treat me " list. You can share it with your significant other, so they're never confused and so they never have to read through another one of these blogs again. But there's no reason to stop there. Share it with friends too, and save them the danger of bumbling into your birthday party with a lousy gift.