“He Thinks Valentine’s Day is Stupid”

My boyfriend, “Julio,” and I have been together for a year and a half. I don’t mean to sound selfish or ungrateful when I say this, but I feel like Julio doesn’t love me as much as his exes. On Christmas he spent $30 on underwear and gave me a gift card. Sure, I was thankful, but it wasn’t thoughtful at all, especially considering I went all out for him on Christmas and on his birthday before that. We even discussed how important these holidays meant to both of us. Then my birthday came around, and he got me nothing! We even split the bill for dinner and I paid the majority of it. Now it’s Valentine’s Day and he got me nothing.

I recently found out he’s done so many things for his exes, and he fights with me when I ask him about it. He’s told me he’s bought them roses and done other special things/spent thousands on them (he knows how much I value meaningful gestures/it’s not about the money). But with me he just says things like “Valentines Day is stupid” and then we do nothing or he says, “It’s just a birthday.” I don’t understand why he gets so mad at me when I ask about his exes. Also, he only just stopped creeping his ex on social media maybe a month ago. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t make me feel special once in a while; he keeps saying he’ll make the next occasion special, but I don’t see any promises and my trust is wavering. I feel like he’ll never love me like his ex. What do I do?? — Nothing For Valentine’s Day

If you don’t want to be with someone who can’t make you feel special and who ignores you on special occasions, can’t even be bothered to treat you to dinner on your birthday, and who pays his exes more interest than he pays you, break up with this guy and move on. This isn’t complicated.

My birthday is six days after Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend combined the presents this year. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, except neither of them were big gifts and I had to tell him exactly what to get me or he wouldn’t have gotten me anything. I guess I’m just wondering if I’m being ungrateful that he’s doing this. I feel like when you get someone a present, it should be thoughtful and you should want to do it for them. In this case it wasn’t thoughtful and it feels like he only did it so he wouldn’t hear me complain. When I get him presents, I never ask what he wants — I just guess and hope for the best and he’s usually pleased, so I don’t understand why I have to tell him what to get me in order for me to receive anything. I’m not questioning whether or not he cares for me, but I am questioning why he acts like it’s such a task to get a present for me. I feel like I’m getting cheated.

We’ve been together for nearly three years now and he won’t buy me two separate presents, and on top of that spent maybe $70 on them total, whereas when I buy him presents it’s always upwards of $100 and once it was more like $600. So should I stop buying him such expensive presents knowing he won’t be as happy with them? Should I just accept the fact that he’s not as thoughtful about these things as I am? Or should I be upset that he’s doing this? I feel like I sound ungrateful and I’m not; I like what he got me, mostly, but at the same time I would prefer two separate presents and obviously something nicer for my birthday… and I don’t want to have to tell him what to get me either because I like to be surprised, but if I don’t tell him then he threatens to get me nothing. Please let me know what you think about this.

P.S. We’re in a long-distance relationship, so spending time with one another isn’t an option, and he doesn’t want to Skype or talk on the phone either, which, to be honest, is really all I want — for him to want to do something outside of texting me on “special” days. — Spending Time Together Isn’t an Option

Your problem isn’t that you have a thoughtless boyfriend or that your Love Languages aren’t a match. Your problem is in your P.S.; your long-distance boyfriend doesn’t even want to talk to you on special occasions? Not on Valentine’s Day or your birthday? The cheap, thoughtless gifts are a symptom of what essentially breaks down to this: Your boyfriend is over you and he’s just waiting for you to do the breaking up because he’s too lazy or doesn’t want to be the “bad guy” or whatever. Give yourself a Valentine’s gift this year and MOA. And then give yourself a separate birthday gift by buying whatever it is you want, minus the middleman who always lets you down anyway.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. This is the equivalent of the men who complain that their wives did weird sex stuff with exes but won’t do it with them. If you’re not getting the romance you need from this relationship then leave but don’t rate your relationship against his exes.

    1. Northern Star says:

      Also, don’t stay with a loser who wants to split the cost of your birthday dinner.

  2. “jipped” is an ethnic slur.

      1. I honestly didn’t know that. I can’t remember if I’ve ever used it, but thanks.

  3. Way to bury the lede, LW2. He won’t talk on the phone or Skype you when you’re in an LDR? And you accept that as normal? God, the lack of phone sex alone would drive me insane in that situation! Dump this guy. Immediately.

  4. LisforLeslie says:

    Your boyfriends can’t be bothered to show you how much they care. You’ve discussed your disappointment and they’ve changed nothing. So you put up with disappointment. Why should they do anything more than the minimum? You don’t demand it.

    Accept it or move on.

  5. Northern Star says:

    To both LWs: He doesn’t love you. Dump him and move on.

  6. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

    Ok, so PS aside, LW2’s letter struck a nerve with me. My wife’s birthday is also 6 days after Valentine’s Day, and after the first year or so I only got her one present for both days because, seriously, that’s A LOT of money to spend in one month if you’re trying to get presents for both! This is just my opinion, but in situations like that I think, assuming you’re aiming for a long-term relationship, it’s selfish to demand gifts for both days in a situation like this.

    (Note that I’m saying “gifts” and not “attention/affection.” I’m sorry, but I don’t think even if LW2’s beau was loving and attentive and talking and whatever on both days she’d be happy. I think the PS was put on to try to rehabilitate the fact that she’s materialistic and wants lots of presents.)

    1. Seriously? I was born the week of Christmas and I get a separate Christmas and a birthday gift. Always have from family and my husband. He’s a very early January baby and he’s always gotten two gifts, too. Sure, it’s a lot of expense right there together, but, I mean, you plan for it? It’s not a surprise or anything. The way I see it is if you wouldn’t give someone with, say, a June birthday a “joint” holiday/birthday gift, then you shouldn’t do it for someone who just happened to be born close to a holiday. It’s really not that hard to come up with two gifts.

      1. My mom is Xmas eve. You can get her one gift but she likes a separate non Xmas themed bday card.

      2. You’re the only one I’ve heard who’s put it this way aside from me. Yes, it’s a lot at once, but it’s the same amount overall throughout the year on the same person, and it’s not as if it’s a surprise.

        And no, I don’t actually have a birthday near a holiday, unless you count Halloween, which rocked because I had some great birthday parties as a kid.

      3. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Ok, “selfish” was probably the wrong word to generalize with, though the LW’s letter still reads as selfish/greedy for other reasons I listed. But when I’m talking about getting one present, I wasn’t trying to imply that I do NOTHING for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never really considered a card or a single rose or a heartfelt love letter or some other inexpensive or non-monetary thing like that a “present” in that sense, but that’s just my take on things. I meant more like demanding diamonds on both days. And while I appreciate the “budgeting” argument, the reality is that it’s still a lot of money in a single month to put down if I were to do big presents on both.

    2. Allornone says:

      my birthday is five days before Valentine’s and my boyfriend insisted on buying gifts for both, despite my protestations (seriously, he’s a good bf all year round, I don’t need a day like Valentines’s). He ultimately got me two rather inexpensive, but very thoughtful, gifts. I was happy.

    3. Northern Star says:

      If that’s what you did, I hope in turn your wife skipped getting you a birthday present (or a V-day present; whichever). Otherwise, your refusal to budget was kinda cheap.

      1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t dream of asking her for a present on VDay if I’m doing that; regardless of one’s take on whether it’s right or wrong, it still looks SUPER sketchy to say “I’m not getting you anything, but you need to get me stuff anyway!” But I also don’t like people spending a lot of money on me in general (which, actually, is a sore spot for my wife, because I SUCK at telling her what I want for gifts year round 🙂 )

    4. I think it’s fine to give one joint gift or two separate gifts, as long as the recipient’s preferences are kept in mind. If it’s really important to your partner to get two gifts, get them two gifts. In my experience, Valentine’s Day gifts are smaller and lower key anyway. I’d be fine with one thoughtful gift for both Valentine’s Day and my birthday combined, but I’m also someone who doesn’t need or expect gifts for a Hallmark holiday.

      LW2’s relationship is problematic in many ways, and one of those issues to me is that she equates spending amount with thoughtfulness. I have been told I’m a good gift-giver, but never in my life have I spent $600 on a gift for someone. Pricier doesn’t mean better. You don’t have to break the bank to buy someone something thoughtful or sentimental — or simply something you know they’ve been really wanting or needing.

      1. Like, my boyfriend literally bought me podiatrist-designed slippers as one of my Christmas gifts. As you can imagine, they’re not very cute. But I LOVE them. I love that he got them for me. I laughed aloud when I opened them, but they were a great gift: I thought they were thoughtful, they’re practical, they *really* help me manage my foot pain, and I use them daily. I suspect LW2 would turn her nose up at my granny slippers.

    5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I think this depends on the couple. How much do they spend for Valentines and for a birthday. Is the joint gift equal to the combination. Does he spend more in general on gifts so it comes out even. Is Valentines more a joint thing like dinner out.

      For our Valentine’s day yesterday we exchanged cards and last night we cleaned the house because our daughter is hosting her friends for a movie night tonight. We go out for dinner so much that going out didn’t seem special and we don’t need gifts. We each already have what we want.

  7. anonymousse says:

    The first letter reads like a list of why you want to break up with your boyfriend. And you should!

    The second… Have you met irl? He sounds more like a text pal? Email?

  8. Seriously, please star or edit out the ethnic slur. Many people don’t realize that it is one, but this is a great opportunity for education 🙂

  9. Bittergaymark says:


  10. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW2 I think your relationship is on its last leg. Not specifically because he asks what you would like for a gift but because he doesn’t want to talk to you.

    When it comes to your style of giving gifts I don’t think it’s as thoughtful as you feel it is. Has it occurred to you that your boyfriend asks what you want because he wants to make sure you like the gift he gives you. That’s thoughtful. At the same time he may find your gifts come in so off the mark that they don’t feel thoughtful at all. You seem to refuse to discuss what you would like and never ask what he would like. That tends to shut down all discussion about gift giving, including things like how much to spend and whether there should be one gift or two.

    Try asking what he would like as a gift. You might be stunned to find that your thoughtful gifts don’t make his list. As he tells you what he would like you then ask about the price range the two of you will be following for the year. So if he says he would like X and you know that X costs about $150 you then ask so we’ll each spend about $150 on Christmas gifts this year. Then you ask if that’s what he would like to do for birthdays also. Then you can tell him you would prefer two gifts, one for Christmas and one for your birthday instead of one big gift worth $300 or if he doesn’t want to give two gifts and doesn’t want to spend $300 are the two of you skipping giving birthday gifts this year.

    The trouble is you refuse to have a gift discussion. Without discussion you get no where and end up with hurt feelings. He probably isn’t any happier with the way gifts are going. There is a good chance that he doesn’t actually want the things you are giving him. When you refuse to have a conversation nothing changes and you remain unhappy. You are trying to guess in the dark what you should do. This is a discussion that needs to happen with your boyfriend, not with internet strangers. If you can’t even discuss gift giving then you really don’t have much of a relationship.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I should have said Valentines instead of Christmas. The same idea though.

    2. Northern Star says:

      “if I don’t tell him then he threatens to get me nothing.”

      On what planet does this translate to “your boyfriend asks what you want because he wants to make sure you like the gift he gives you.”?

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        If they’ve been doing this for three years he may be as absolutely fed up as she is and has reached the point where he says tell me or else and she is at the point where he is thoughtless because he doesn’t like to do surprise gifts.

        I think it shows there is a vast gap between their gift giving ideas and no discussion to bridge that gap.

        I also suspect that he gave only one gift for Valentines Day and her birthday because he doesn’t think they’ll be together by his birthday and he doesn’t want to buy her a gift if he isn’t going to get one back.

        “When I get him presents I never ask what he wants — I just guess and hope for the best and he’s usually pleased”

        Since when is hoping for the best thoughtful? They are just worlds apart on what they think should be happening.

        Does she have the same attitude about gift registries for weddings? It is very much the same kind of thing.

      2. Northern Star says:

        Guessing what someone wants and hoping for the best is what almost EVERYONE does for gift-giving occasions that aren’t formal affairs. It’s a standard practice. I don’t know why that statement would be a red flag to you.

        And why would you bring up a wedding as a comparison? How many people set up a registry for a birthday or Valentine’s Day? It’s a completely different scenario.

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I see asking what someone would like as being the same as a registry. The registry is a list of things that the couple would like. If someone tells you what they would like to receive as a gift, or even gives multiples items to choose from it is the same concept. It’s a list of things they would like.

        I see it not specifically as a red flag because it happens but because they don’t seem to be able to talk about it. Lack of communication kills relationships. Why haven’t they had a discussion about why he wants to know what to get her and she wants everything to be a surprise. What would it mean to him if she just asked what he wanted and what would it mean to her if he surprised her, even if he didn’t hit the mark with the gift. Why not talk?

        In all of my couple friends who are long term couples they all tell each other what they want and most have moved to purchasing the item themselves with the understanding that it is their birthday or Christmas gift. It is just easier to do it yourself than find a link to the item and then give the link to the spouse. We are so beyond hoping that we get something they like. It’s a waste of time and money to buy something that isn’t wanted so we make sure it is wanted. It also saves on hurt feelings and returns.

        My husband wants things that I’ve never heard of so no matter how much I might want to get him something he wants and likes I can’t get what he wants without his help. He’d much rather order the item himself and get what he wants than to hope I find him something he might like. He knows what he wants. In fact, he enjoys researching his own gift. He loves spending time reviewing items knowing that he gets to choose one. The choosing makes it fun for him.

      4. Northern Star says:

        Skyblossom, I’m not disagreeing with you that this relationship is dunzo for numerous reasons. It just is really irritating when a completely common, normal activity (a present for an occasion) is belittled or ignored by one person, and the other person is somehow unreasonable for being disappointed.

        And you’re saying, “If you would just COMMUNICATE!”

        Nah, sometimes people are just selfish clods with selfish cloddish behavior. And instead of trying to “fix yourself by communicating” with said selfish clod, I think you should just move on to someone who is not a selfish clod.

        I have little patience for the idiots who use “Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday” and “I don’t care about birthdays” and “my love language is different” as an excuse not to get something for their significant other or make them feel stupid/wrong for wanting something. Minus an actual discussion (about preferences, finances, etc.), there is no excuse for that bullshit. You know it’s Valentine’s Day. You know a birthday is coming up. Acknowledge the event. It’s not that hard.

      5. Northern Star says:

        And your husband prefers to pick his present. Cool, he told you that and does it.

        She does NOT want to pick her present, and made that clear. Boyfriend says, “tough, I’m not buying you jack shit if you don’t spell it out.”

        One is good. The other is bad.

      6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I agree this relationship is toast. I think that him saying tell me or else get nothing is him lashing out in anger. It’s a symptom of a relationship that isn’t working. At the same time she has a smug attitude that her way is the only correct way to get a present. Her way is the only thoughtful way. There are many thoughtful ways to get a present. Asking her what she wants shows someone is thinking about the gift ahead of time and shows that they want to get her something that she truly likes. That’s not thoughtless. It’s thoughtful in a different way than a surprise gift. She needs to understand going forward, probably for future relationships, that there is more than one way to do pretty much anything and she shouldn’t assume her way is the only correct way. Maybe the reason he got his previous girlfriend more expensive gifts was she told him what she wanted and what she wanted was more expensive. The LW won’t know why he bought more expensive gifts because she has never asked. Why did you buy that isn’t such a difficult question.

        They have been together for three years and she still doesn’t know what their budget is for gifts. The only reason you wouldn’t know is that you don’t talk about it and set a price range. Failure to talk about something as simple as gift giving shows a failure to communicate. If you can’t talk about something as simple as gifts what can you talk about? Really, on a scale of importance a budget for gifts is fairly simple to bring up and settle. Talking about the importance of surprise versus wants is a simple conversation. It has never happened. They can’t talk about simple things. It’s hard to imagine them having an in depth discussion on a difficult topic.

        This is a communication issue. Failed communication leads to more and more hurt feelings and dissatisfaction and that leads to anger and resentment and overall dissatisfaction with the relationship.

      7. Northern Star says:

        You are assigning the purest motivations to his actions. You are assuming he wanted/wants to do a good job.

        I am assuming he is lazy.

        Objectively speaking, I think we’re equally likely to be correct, I guess.

      8. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I don’t think he’s putting in a lot of effort now. I think he’s doing almost nothing now. He doesn’t even want to talk to her. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have had a meaningful conversation about gift giving just before or after the first round of gifts. The inability to talk about it is a sign that their relationship doesn’t work and hasn’t from the beginning.

        I’m hoping that going forward she will have learned that there are various ways to do things and the way you grew up doing something isn’t necessarily the only way or the best way. It is a way and you need to negotiate your own way.

        She needs to step back and look at the situation and ask questions. She needs to learn to speak. Then if you don’t like the way it works you can say this isn’t working for me and find a different partner. Just letting things slide and getting angrier and angrier doesn’t work. She needs to tell him her thoughts about gift giving and ask for his own ideas/opinions. She needs to tell him that not talking by phone or Skype doesn’t work for her. She needs to see why he doesn’t want to talk. Is it because he can’t be bothered and wants to send her a quick text while on the toilet or at the other extreme does Skype or a phone call mean one to two hours and that’s too long for him. Again, I don’t think she knows. If he can’t be bothered to make any effort, break up. If calls go on endlessly maybe they can work on that.

  11. wobster109 says:

    LW2 – If he’s thoughtful in other regards, then I think the presents thing isn’t a big deal. And of course, if he generally doesn’t think of you much one way or the other, then don’t expect a big present twice a year to fill in for that. Choose someone who is a joy to be around day-to-day.

    But here’s the thing. If you say you want him to choose a gift for you, and if he’s thoughtful about it, then you have to try to like it. Really try, even if it’s not something you would have picked, and even if you otherwise dislike it.

    Of course, if he pops into Wal-Mart and gets you a random bar of bacon-scented soap, and you’ve always used citrus body wash out of a bottle, then yeah. He grabbed the first random thing he saw and put no thought into it. Rage on.

    But if you ask him why he got you the heart necklace, and he says “it’s the blue you wore on our first Thanksgiving together, and I engraved it with our anniversary date”, then try to be appreciative. He tried to be thoughtful, even if you think it’s the most cliched thing in the world, and you would never have picked that in a million years. It really is the thought that counts, and appreciating his intentions has to give you the warm fuzzies. If you go in expecting him to have chosen things exactly suited to your tastes, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

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