Mini-Love-Lesson # 280
Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson helps make sure that a love gift is indeed a gift of love and not something else.
Free Love Gifts: No Strings Attached or Hidden Agendas
Free love-gifts are unencumbered by expectations. When the gift is free of strings, both the giver and receiver are liberated to more fully enjoy the experience. It is a string when the giver expects a return. It is a string when the receiver feels obliged to produce a return. To try to buy someone with a gift is neither free nor loving. To attempt to manipulate anyone’s actions, mood or feelings by gift-giving may be more of a bribe than a real gift. Gifts that are given to impress or for egotistical gain or to influence are more in the realm of calculated maneuvers rather than in the sphere of love. Gifts that are given to comply with a social norm usually are not gifts of the heart. We all may find it wise to examine our gift giving habits from time to time to be sure they are free of strings (see “Yourself As a Great Source of Love Gifts”).
If a person gives a gift to reduce their guilt, that is not a love gift; it represents a hidden agenda. For instance, they might be trying to atone for forgetting an anniversary, for having been unkind or for an act of exclusion. The hidden agenda is that they hope to assuage their guilt by giving a gift. If the gift is accompanied by a sincere apology then it might be a true love gift. Other hidden agenda gift-giving may involve quid pro quo goals, or attempts to garner favors, status, approval or merit. If there is an ulterior motivation, it negates the spirit of love-gift giving (see “Behaviors That Give Love: The Basic Core Four”).
All too often material evidence is seen as an attempt to buy love, impress someone, or be dutiful. “You gave me things but you didn’t give of yourself” is often heard in the counseling of couples. Toward the end of counseling, we tend to hear things like “Your gift touched my heart and proved you really know my secret self”. To communicate love with a gift, get in touch with your love feelings for another and your intimate awareness of them, then find a gift that combines both.
What works in the giving of gifts is often surprising. It is not the cost, it is not the size, it is not the utility. It is the intimate and personal which distinguishes an ordinary present from a gift of love. Love requires a personal-process-based orientation. Many other orientations are more impersonal-product-based (the cut wood and carry water functions). Process and product, like oil and water, do not mix well. Why is a card or a flower often a better love gift than a shovel or can opener? The flower or signed card is only for personal appreciation; the shovel and can opener are for work. The more personal, the more love-filled is the gift (see “How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”).
As always – Grow and Go with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Quotable Question: What might be a very intimate, personal gift you would like to receive and then cherish; and who might you give that same gift to?
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