What to do when someone gives you a gift you don’t really want

two men exchanging presents

After receiving a gift that just doesn’t suit you, feeling disappointment — followed by guilt — is a natural reaction. Having a conversation about it can help, experts say.Janina Steinmetz/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Sign up for CNN’s Stress, But Less newsletter. Our six-part mindfulness guide will inform and inspire you to reduce stress while learning how to harness it.CNN — 

When Abby Eckel saw the small jewelry gift bag her husband gave her for her birthday, she thought she knew exactly what was inside — a ring with a morganite gemstone that she had requested. But when Eckel opened the package and saw a necklace instead, she couldn’t hide her disappointment.

“It was like this inner turmoil and conversation I was having with myself of like, do I say something? Or should I just be happy with what I received?” Eckel recalled.

Eckel knew she wouldn’t wear the necklace since she has specific preferences about her jewelry. But now her husband had given her something she didn’t love, and she felt guilty for being disappointed.

For many people, this disappointment — followed by guilt — is natural after receiving a gift that just doesn’t feel like you. It could be that annual sweater from your parents that isn’t in your size, a T-shirt with a band logo on it that you loved as a teen (but not anymore), or a piece of silver jewelry when you only ever wear gold.

The gift is left taking up storage space and collecting dust because you don’t have the heart to get rid of it. And you might be left feeling like your loved ones don’t listen to what you want.

What to do if you receive a gift you don’t love

When Eckel received the necklace from her husband, she mostly felt confused — why had he given her the necklace instead of the ring she wanted? She no longer recalls why he didn’t get the ring, but she does remember the conversation she decided to have with him.

Happy woman wearing sweater hugging herself in bedroom

How to be kinder to yourself, according to science

I told him, ‘I don’t want to seem spoiled or ungrateful. But I do also want to understand your thought process behind this,’ and we talked through it, and I felt better,” Eckel said. “And he felt better that I told him. He was like, ‘I don’t want you getting upset about this, and me having no idea as to why.’”

Ad Feedback

Eckel then felt OK returning the necklace to use the money elsewhere, she said.

Having that conversation can be helpful in alleviating those feelings of disappointment and guilt, said Mielad Owraghi, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center in Redlands, California.

“It’s important to just find appreciation and gratefulness in the gift itself,” Owraghi said. “But if you feel like you’re not getting the gifts that you’re desiring, then maybe you need to communicate with that person a little bit more, so they understand what to get you.”

Asking questions to understand why the gift giver chose that present can help the gift receiver understand the thought that went into it, said Suzanne Degges-White, a licensed counselor and professor and chair of Northern Illinois University’s department of counseling and higher education in DeKalb, Illinois.

“Gifts tell us how we think people see us, how we think people perceive our relationship,” she said. “And with romantic partners a lot of times, especially in the early stages, we want the gift to be symbolic of how much someone cares about us.”

Man looking away while sitting by railing against door

Why you ‘regress’ when you go home for the holidays — and how to avoid it

It’s important to have honest conversations with those with whom you have a long-term relationship to establish what types of gifts you do and don’t like, especially so the pattern doesn’t repeat itself the next holiday season, Degges-White said. But if the person is not a romantic partner or close friend or family member, keeping quiet and remembering the gift giver’s good intentions may be the best way to go, she said.

“If someone’s lovingly chosen something for you that you find just so horrendous, we do feel bad, because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, especially people we care about,” she said. Sometimes, putting on that sweater you would never wear to humor that person, “you’re giving them a gift, by finding pleasure in the gift they gave you.”

It’s the thought that counts

In 2020, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” aired a skit on so many moms getting robes for Christmas. On Christmas a few days later, moms everywhere posted photos in their new robes in response to that sketch.

When it comes to the art of gift gifting, people say it’s the thought that counts, but a little more thought than usual can go a long way. “Usually the best gift is when someone knows what you like and gives you something that they think you will like because they’ve noticed things about you,” Degges-White said.

“And when people have failed to do that and give us something totally mismatched, we feel that we haven’t been seen and feel like we’re not valued in the way that we want to be valued.”


Is there such a thing as too much gratitude? Turns out sometimes less is more

Communicating your needs and wants with loved ones is important to keep strong relationships, Owraghi said. In turn, listening and taking notes on any hints your https://merupakan.com loved ones may provide for possible gifts throughout the year can help you to feel more prepared when the season comes back around, he said.

Eckel, a content creator who gives advice to her followers on relationships, parenting and mental health, posted a video on TikTok last year on her experience with her husband’s gift. In the video, she explained that if the situation was flipped, she would want her husband to tell her if she gave him a gift he didn’t like.

“We’re humans, we have emotions, and certain scenarios are going to evoke very normal emotions,” Eckel said. “I can either choose to talk to my partner about it. Or I can say, ‘You know what, I’m going to feel this disappointment. I’m going to feel the sadness. And then I’m going to move on from it.’”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *