By Dr. Paula Bloom
I know the following statement may fall into the “duh” category but here goes:
You are more likely to get what you want if you actually ask for it.
I know, shocking, right? As Valentine’s Day approaches I’m reminded of all the game-playing involved with gift-giving in romantic relationships. Will he figure out what I want? Will he get it right this time? I’ll focus on women here because my experience is that, in general, men don’t worry as much about what gifts mean. Can you imagine hearing: “She got me a pair of size large silk boxers — does that mean she thinks my butt is too big?” “A golf bag, really? She must not love me if she bought me such a practical gift. I really wanted something else. You never listen to me.”
As I get older the commercialized holidays seem less and less important. Correction. I like to present the image that they don’t matter. Me, a mature woman who is comfortable with who she is doesn’t need validation on this arbitrary day defined by jewelry stores and greeting card companies. (Yeah, right.)
Why is Valentine’s Day so important to us? Is it really about the gift or is about the relationship? You know how it goes. He asks, “What do you want for your birthday?” You answer, “Nothing, don’t worry.” And then, he gives you what you said you wanted — NOTHING. This is not a hypothetical. This happened with my husband and me. Can you believe he took me at my word? The truth is I am grateful to be with a man who forces me to be honest and clear about what I want. I often advise female clients that a good rule for relationships is: I don’t take hints, (and neither does he). I try to practice what I preach. (Let’s see how this February 14th goes.)
How is it that we expect people to read our minds. Why do we subject ourselves year in and year out to this game? Why do gifts represent so much, and trigger so many emotions? Why do we seem to feel ashamed for being disappointed? What’s wrong with wanting something? Why do we deny that we wanted something and then act irritable and passive aggressive when we don’t get it? “What’s wrong, honey?” “Nothing,” you answer with disdain while thinking, “If I have to tell you then we have bigger problems.”
So think about what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared to not get it (from him). And if you still want it, get it yourself. If this happens to you year in and year out, remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Why are you expecting that this year will be any different. Nothing changes if NOTHING changes.
I know this blog post asks more questions than it answers. I’d love to hear YOUR answers to the questions in the comment section!
Pictured: The Shoe Shrink enjoying flowers (she bought for herself) and her FitFlop Womens Happy Gogh Clogs in red patent leather