Have you ever received a piece of jewelry from a loved that you can’t imagine yourself wearing? Or you just plain and simple hate it, but don’t want to hurt your partner’s feeling but telling them the truth? Do you still wear the diamond stud earrings you despise? Do you pretend to smile every time you wear the gold bracelet you were gifted? Or, do you tell your significant other really how you feel?
If you’ve ever gotten surprised with a gift, you’ve gone through this dilemma in one way or another. And honestly, you’re not alone. The question is: what do you do next? During a recent episode of “Celebrity Call Center,” which is hosted by E! and airs Mondays at 10 pm, this exact issue was brought to the table.
Answering questions that day was “Charmed” actress and activist Alyssa Milano and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes. When a caller named Riley phoned in from Rutland, Vermont, she asked the celebrities their opinion on a matter of ugly jewelry.
“I recently received a bad, semi-expensive gift from my significant other,” said Riley. “It was a really sweet gift but I really dislike it. I don’t really know if I should be honest with him and tell him that I don’t like it.”
The jewelry was a necklace from Riley’s boyfriend of five or six years. While Leakes immediately urged the caller “you should be honest,” Milano had some different advice. After Riley revealed that she and her boyfriend will “hopefully soon” get engaged, the actress said, “I would wear that necklace. You don’t want to wear his feelings. Just wear it. It’s such a lovely thought, right?”
“It is, but no,” Leakes replied.
Milano added, “And then you’ll laugh about it in a few years.” Riley seemed to trust Milano’s advice. She jokingly replied, “And then the next thing you know I’m gonna have 20 pieces of jewelry that are all bad looking but I gotta wear them. I think you’re right Alyssa. I’ll take one for the time and maybe help him pick the next one.”
There truly isn’t just one way to handle such a situation. Pretending to like something your partner gifts you could be advantageous because at least you won’t make the person feel hurt and disappointed that you their efforts didn’t make you smile. Secondly, it’s easy to feel guilty because after all, it’s the thought that counts, right?
But, that also doesn’t mean that you should keep quiet about gifts that really aren’t your style. If you hate pearls, why should you have to wear a pearl bracelet to make someone else happy? Because if you do, all you’re doing is saying that gift is something you really do like, and the next time your partner is thinking of what to get you, they’re going to have a false impression of your taste.
Best-selling author and NYC dating expert Susan Winter said it plain and simple though: “If you really abhor the gift (and you know it was expensive), then you must be honest. The reason your partner gave you a gift was to make you happy. It’s counterproductive to not only waste money but displease you.”
Avoid being too critical though. Relationship expert Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, suggests that “at the beginning of a relationship, and this includes a few years in,” try something similar to: “I appreciate your thoughtfulness and effort in getting me this gift. Thank you. We are still learning about each other and I prefer/like [fill-in-the-blank]. I am not saying this to hurt your feelings, you know I love you and don’t want to hurt you, but I think it is important for us to understand each other as we’re still learning about each other.”
“Bring up a positive experience with your partner,” she added. “‘Remember when you got me that pint of cookie dough ice cream because I was having such a bad day at work? That meant so much to me.’ You’re showing it’s not the amount of money spent that matters, but being in tune with each other and thoughtful that matters.”