“My ‘High-Society’ Boyfriend’s Gifts Are So Cheap!”

I have an issue I don’t know how to address in a “normal” way because I grew up in a severely dysfunctional home. I have been dating my boyfriend for 4+ years. He often goes to “society” dinners, parties, etc., has a lot of money, and buys only the best for himself. He has fifteen Lauren custom-made white shirts and has custom-made shoes from France; he was married and among his ex-wife’s clothes were 40 purses with at least six from Chanel (all the same style, but in every color they came in) as well as many top designer dresses in the $5000+ range. Only the VERY BEST for them, mostly on his earnings. Now that they’re divorced, her business has taken off, no alimony is being paid, and, yet, he is cheap with me while asking for expensive gifts in return.

One year he asked for a scarf for Christmas, and then he decided against it but gave me several other ideas for gifts that he did appreciate. I learned this year that he didn’t want a scarf because he really only wanted it if it was a cashmere scarf from a particular designer, not some generic cashmere from Nordstrom, or Macy’s, or even Niemann Marcus. Not good enough.

He gives me gifts in boxes from MaxMara, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, but the items inside are not from those stores and have no tags. Having received a purse in a La Perla bag (which I thought more to be a lingerie brand), I was inspired to search the RN number, and I l`earned that both my birthday and Christmas gifts were discount mall items. So, great — he only wants TOP QUALITY cashmere but an acrylic and Lycra scarf is OK to give to me? A $14.99 blouse in a MaxMara bag? Is he trying to test me? Impress me?

I don’t know how to respond. Do I say thanks, but that his gift gives me hives and so I gave it away? Do I give it back and say thanks but it’s not my style? Do I say thanks for the scarf, but where is the La Perla thing I was expecting? Do I wear all his cheap things when we see his friends, hoping to embarrass him? Do I say don’t buy it for me if your ex wouldn’t want it? I don’t want him to continue to waste his money on things I hate, and I also feel cheated.

I buy him expensive things appropriate to his taste that he does wear, and that I see him in photos wearing, so I know he is not just wearing them to please me. I also take him to an equal number of dinners as he take me and at equally expensive restaurants, though I think he is better able to afford it.

I want to express my confusion, but, as I said, I grew up in a dysfunctional home, with violence, sarcasm, and passive-aggressive responses to every expression of unhappiness, anger, and confusion, and, as a result, I don’t know how to effectively express myself. With my bizarre childhood, I have no idea what is both polite yet expressive of dissatisfaction, or, perhaps, will encourage him to give me fewer but nicer things.

— Still Time To Train Him for Next Christmas

I don’t buy that you care about being polite. Even with a dysfunctional childhood, any grown adult with an emotional IQ higher than a rock surely knows it isn’t polite to lie to someone’s face about getting hives from a gift he gave you (unless, maybe, it isn’t actually a lie? In which case, there’s still a more polite way to let him know you might be allergic to certain fabrics he should avoid purchasing for you in the future). And it isn’t polite to wear all the gifts from your boyfriend that you think aren’t good enough for you for the sole purpose of embarrassing him in front of his friends. And it sure as shit isn’t polite to tell your boyfriend not to buy you anything he knows his ex wouldn’t want.

But you don’t care about being polite. And that’s fine. In some situations, being polite is over-rated. But, you know what isn’t over-rated? Being honest with yourself. What is it that you really want from your boyfriend? Expensive gifts and fancy dinners? Or do you want to feel as valued as you think he valued his ex-wife? Is it more important to you to look and feel the part of a “high-society woman” — the kind of woman you believe your boyfriend’s ex to be, or is it more important to have authenticity and honesty and mutual respect and appreciation in your relationship? You need to get real clear about these things before you proceed.

If what you want is to feel and look like a high-society woman and you were hoping this boyfriend would give you that, then it’s quite possible he’s picked up on your intention and has no interest in playing that game. Maybe he wants to be liked for who he is and not what you think he can give you. If, on the other hand, you see his material gifts as representative of his feelings, and a cheap discount mall purse disguised in a La Perla shopping bag makes you feel like he doesn’t value you, you need to evaluate the entire relationship and ask yourself if there are other ways your boyfriend shows how he values you. If this is simply a matter of your feeling “cheated” (your word) because you’re dating someone rich and you think you deserve all the pricey items he buys himself and supposedly bought his ex, then that’s… well, totally shallow.

Relationships aren’t about what someone can buy you. Not the meaningful, soul-connecting ones, anyway. They’re about support and love and companionship and sharing dreams and goals and values. They’re about making memories together to strengthen your bond and give you a shared history to hold you up and together through life’s more challenging events and occasions. You talk about scarves and handbags and society dinners and what you think you’re owed (“Where’s my La Perla thing?”) like your relationship is a transaction. You don’t mention the word “love” one time in your whole letter.

Is there love between you? Is this a relationship, aside from the issue with gifts, worth continuing? Do you feel connected to this man and hope to share your life with him? Or do you simply aspire to be a “society couple” with a connection that runs as deep as the pretty things you both will wear?

If it’s love you want, tell him that. Tell him the ways YOU need to feel valued and loved by him and ask him how he prefers feeling loved by you. (Say nothing about the specific gifts he’s already given you, but tell him that material purchases are, for you, a representation of one’s feelings and, based on the gifts he’s presented to you thus far, you’re confused about what you mean to him).

If what you want is to feel and look the part of a society couple, tell your boyfriend exactly that. Suggest that, rather than spend money on gifts for each other, you spend money on yourselves, buying only the best and to exactly your specific tastes, so that when you go out together, you both feel most comfortable in the costumes you’ve chosen for the roles you’re playing (which sounds terribly sad and empty to me, but I could give a fuck-all about society dinners and fancy cashmere and designer handbags worth thousands).

Finally, if you’re an adult who doesn’t have a clue how to express herself because her childhood was messy, please get yourself to therapy. There’s really zero excuse for not going, especially if you can buy expensive shit for your elitist boyfriend. Stop blaming your parents for why you aren’t happy in your relationship and go get all that sorted out so that you can move on and be healthy and, at the very least, know the difference between being polite and being cold-stone bitchy.


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


  1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    LW, it is really hard to feel sorry for you. WWS- if you can afford Neiman Marcus scarves, you can afford therapy. Grow the F*** up. If you cant talk to your boyfriend of 4 years about, well, almost anything, then yeah- you have a pretty d*mn shallow relationship.
    Also, maybe when you are thinking about how unfair it is to get maxmara stuff, maybe think about how lucky you are that it isnt something from *gasp* Kmart. Because that is the reality for many many, many, maaaaany people. Im 35 and still about $100k in debt from law school. TJMaxx works just fine for me thankyouverymuch AND I value dinners out at a “nice” restaurant with my sweetie (read: nice = hibachi or something just above like, Chilis. Or Chilis, who am I kidding) a couple times a month. But I also have an actual deep relationship with him, and know I am worth more than my weight in gold to him, and that he wouldnt trade me for Taylor Swift (even though he may joke about it) or anyone with a f*ckload of money.

    1. wobster109 says:

      LW didn’t actually receive something from MaxMara though. She received discount things in MaxMara bags. Basically Kmart items! And there’s nothing nice about “nice” dinners that you’re stretching to pay for because the other person expects it.

      1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        I think you are missing the bottom line here.

      2. suzyinthesky says:

        I don’t know… while I agree that the LW comes across as whiny, and her feeling ENTITLED to “nice things” is yucky, his giving her cheap stuff in bags from expensive brands just gives me shivers. It’s the…deception? faking it? trying to trick her, does he think she’s stupid or does he actually want her to feel bad? I can’t really articulate it. It’s just wrong.

    2. Never have I ever says:

      This “fellow” is not blind to his own worth, perhaps this is passive-aggressive on his part and a really dirty joke at her expense… she wears expensive stuff and thinks she looks the part but underneath she is a kmart brand tampon, and i say this because if he thought you were on his level you would be dressed like it by him! All my exs have bought me cheapy stuff but NEVER told me it was an expensive gift! That guy thinks he is smart but really IM SMARTER!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This whole letter is just…yuck. Honestly, they sound like they deserve each other.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The way I read this was that the real issue is that she doesn’t feel valued. And I have to ask, is he generous emotionally, even sexually? Is this just about material things or about reciprocity and intimacy in the relationship? And to answer her question, how to communicate with him, the best way is to tell him how you feel. “I feel hurt when…..” or “I don’t feel valued when…”

  4. One thought I have is that I bet he is not as wealthy as he tries to pretend he is. People who do tacky things like buy so many high end items and then gift you something and try to con you into thinking it is from some expensive store are probably living beyond their means and obviously feel the only way to impress a woman is to con her into making her think you are rich, which is exactly what you are looking for anyway.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      This seems plausible. He and his previous wife may have had expensive tastes but that doesn’t mean they could afford those things. Maybe they ran up a huge amount of debt. He may have grown up with more money than he has or he may have grown up faking that he was wealthier than he is. Maybe when they divorced and their assets were split he didn’t have enough to maintain his lifestyle but tries to keep up the appearance.

    2. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

      My first thought was “lives beyond his means”. Honestly, it could just be that he’s a stingy person. I used to work at a nicer chain of women’s clothing store, and it always seemed like the richer women (or at least the women that dressed/presented themselves that way) were the most miserly.
      But basically, WWS. This attitude is an ugly shade on you, LW. Neither you nor your boyfriend come out looking great in this one.

      1. I thought the exact same thing, especially considering there’s a divorce involved. I’m in school right now hoping to get into the custom tailoring business so I appreciate that the LWs boyfriend likes well-made things. their apparent mutual fixation on appearances makes me wonder how much is rotten underneath

    3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I agree with you guys. This guy screams “lives beyond his means.”

  5. PumpkinSpice says:

    Woah I don’t know how to even respond to this. You sound like a spoiled brat who didn’t get a bunch of gifts for Christmas. You need a real wake up call. Try volunteering at a soup kitchen or thrift store or something with the homeless. Try visiting a homeless shelter and seeing what it is really like for real people outside your precious bubble of privilege! You disgust me. All you care about is the price tag. The brand name. Do you know what, my husband didn’t even get a present from me because we didn’t have the money. And he doesn’t care because we have something more precious than money. We have love and companionship. We have trust and a strong relationship. We have each other and that is more than enough for us. I am lucky to go out to dinner 3x a year let alone a week. I cook special dinners for him at home to show him I care. Get a grip on reality because you really need it.

  6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I get the dishonesty of buying an item and transferring it to another box to make it appear much more expensive than it is. Making something appear to be something that it isn’t is a lie. I also think that if you only request expensive items you should give equivalently expensive items. Your boyfriend apparently doesn’t treat you as an equal when it comes to gifts. I don’t know why he does that. Many people discuss a price range for gifts before holidays or birthdays. You can begin that conversation by asking what price range he’d like for the birthday gifts you exchange this year. Then as you are approaching Christmas you ask what price range will we be in for the Christmas gifts we give to each other this year? Make sure there is an upper and lower limit. If you honor the price range and he doesn’t you can ask him why he didn’t spend the money you both agreed to spend or you could break up and find a guy who honors his commitments.
    Do you love him? Does he have great qualities that you enjoy? You don’t mention anything good about him so I would generally tell you to break up and find someone more compatible, someone more honest, someone who seems to care more than he does.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      This is what I was thinking… she has a right to be upset if the guy is asking for super-expensive stuff from her, and then buying her cheap things and trying to fake that it’s at the same level as what he wants from her. That’s just crappy and dishonest. But I agree with Wendy that it sounds like this is too big a focus for her, because she never even mentioned anything she likes about the guy, or anything about him at all except his expensive tastes, cheap gifts, and that he’s apparently rich.
      If it were me, I’d tell him the next time that he asks for an expensive gift, that I can’t really afford it right now and that I’ll spend the same on him as he typically spends on me. I have a feeling that might actually end the relationship. I sort of get the idea that the guy is a bit of a gold-digger, and that the posters above who say he’s living beyond his means are right.

      1. Well, I would like to add my story with a little hope that someone will answer to it.
        I date someone who simply: controls me by checking my phone, paying me unexpected visits in my work place etc. He always says that his family buy him cheap Christmas presents etc. So, it makes me feel obliged to buy him something nice on every occasion, hence it doesn’t matter how much I spent he always find something wrong with my gifts. Today he called the Armani’s watch I gave him for our anniversary ‘a cheap shit’. He told me not to buy any ‘ crap’ anymore. I don’t know what to think. I am upset, because despite his expectations he doesn’t give much from himself. He stays very ‘shady’ and never tells me much about what he is doing with his free time when I am working, he keeps his phone and computer locked. He doesn’t make much money , as he can’t keep any job for long and I always pay 2/3 for everything. When once I asked him to give me money back for holiday we had together, he said that I should be ashamed to ask him to pay me back, because I earn more. I know I should be above this, because you can’t measure love with money, but is this right?
        I haven’t been born with silver spoon in my mouth,
        I work hard and everything litttle I have. To pay for both of us having a nice skiing holiday I worked some ‘ overtime hours’. My boyfriend is not happy about me working extra time. But he wouldn’t offer to pay his share. I feel like I can’t win whatever I do. Sometimes I think I would be better on my own. Anyone has any suggestions for me? Any advise? Please ….

  7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    When you find that you are with someone who is dishonest, and pretending that his gifts are more expensive than they are is dishonest, and who treats you as less than an equal and with whom you can’t communicate well you break up and find a better match. If you like him for his money and society position he doesn’t seem willing to share those with you so you should also move on. This relationship sounds bad and you should move on.

    1. Exactly. I agree that this guy is probably living well beyond his means and wants gifts equivalent his perceived “status” while he cannot afford to/does not care to give them in return. I also suspect that he figured the LW wouldn’t know the difference, since it doesn’t seem likely that he’s banking on her admitted lack of grace and politeness. That tidbit, combined with the specific request for expensive things, leads me to believe that he is with her less out of love and affection, and more because of what he believes she can do for him. I get the same vibe from her, though, so they’re two peas in a pod. Unfortunately, they each want a richer pea. So, try talking to him if you want, LW, but I don’t think this guy is going to buy you the things you want him to buy you, and I don’t think he’s going to stick around if you stop buying him the expensive things he expects. I’d cut my losses. And definitely get therapy to learn how to express yourself better, not be used in relationships and to make sure you understand why you seek out the relationships that you do.

  8. Small and Tough says:

    My question is how did he get a La Perla bag without buying something at La Perla? Or did he give the La Perla item to someone else and just give the LW the bag?

  9. I agree that the LW’s tone and phrasing rubs me way wrong, but I think that at its heart this is: “My boyfriend is lying to me. Should I confront him?”
    And I think if you otherwise value the relationship and want to continue with him, you should not let this fester… but you should work on discussing it in a way that is less materialistic and more concerned. It shouldn’t be about the cost of the items being too low so much as what drives his need to conceal their actual cost by pretending they were more expensive.
    You don’t really mention any good things about this guy though, so maybe rather than confront him you should just break up with him.

  10. I get what people are saying about the LW seeming spoiled and entitled. I would to like say that there does seem to be a disparity in the way she’s being treated compared to the ex-wife. I would be concerned as well. I can see where she might feel “not good enough” to treat that way, especially if the boyfriend is demanding top-notch gifts. I’d want to know what was going on, too.

    1. Agreed. I went through this. My ex bf’s ex wife had a $20k ring. $70k suv (he bought her 4 or 5 expensive vehicles over the years) I saw appraisals for multiple pieces of expensive jewelry, saw her selling $500+ purses on marketplace after they split, etc. She had that ring, 2 brand new expensive vehicles and most of the jewelry by a little less than 2 years into their relationship. About a year in he bought me a 3 yr old $35k suv. He bought me zero jewelry until about 2½ years in and he bought me a necklace from Amazon for $146 for my birthday. Then proceeded to go on and on about how great moissanite and rhodium are. She had tons of designer clothing and many other things. When there were hints of a possible proposal I started freaking out because I just knew that he’d give me a fake ring as well and I didn’t want to go through that so I got out before that could happen. I know it seems shallow but I could never figure out why he lavished her and was so stingy with me. He definitely had the money. He owned several businesses and I saw his tax returns and he made in the high 6 figures. He’s admitted that he makes way more now than he did back then with her. I felt like I wasn’t as good as her in his eyes and it hurt. Men treat you the way they feel about you and I didn’t feel like he’d ever feel about me the way he felt about her and I couldn’t live like that. I deserved to be with someone who loved and cherished me like he did for her. The disparity was a slap in the face because she wasn’t any better or more worthy than me, but him treating us so vastly different made me feel like she was better and it got in my head and ruined things for me.

      1. You may be right. It sounds like he may have decided that a finance-based relationship had worked very badly for that and vowed not to repeat that approach. He’s no longer married to her. I think judging how much somebody values and loves you based on the $ spent on you isn’t a wise approach. If there were other signs of his not loving you or not treating you well, that’s a different story. But what you wrote makes you sound rather mercenary and shallow.

  11. wobster109 says:

    My feeling is Wendy was quite harsh on LW. It’s not about the monetary value of the gifts. It’s about BF putting in no thought at all as he heads to the mall the day after Christmas to grab the nearest cheap thing on sale. A gift can be meaningful either by being expensive or by being carefully chosen, and it sounds like BF did neither. LW puts all this time and money into hunting down something BF likes, and he just throws her whatever. It feels like he just doesn’t care, and that stings.
    Also the asking for expensive things and giving crap in return. Regardless who’s doing it, friend, BF, or anyone else, it really makes a person feel used.
    LW, I’d say MOA. It sounds like he sees you as a convenient person to have dinners with. If you’re looking for something more, it won’t be him.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Hmm, I don’t know.The LW said nothing about the amount of time spent buying any of the gifts. On the contrary, she was very much focused on the monetary value of said gifts, and even said she felt “cheated,” because her gifts were as valuable as the items her boyfriend’s ex-wife owned.

    2. I agree Wendy’s stance is way harsh on this one. I think LW is experiencing two double standards – the first in how she is being treated compared to his ex-wife, and the second in how he expects LW to treat him versus how he is treating her. This does need to be discussed with her boyfriend to understand the discrepancies.

  12. I don’t understand why LW continues to buy expensive gifts for her bf. Just stop doing it. Give him a thoughtful, inexpensive gift, then you will feel less cheated.

    1. Anonymous says:

      best bit of advice i have seen here!

  13. anonymous says:

    i feel sorry for this woman actually. She does not feel valued and he could just be with her because its easier than to be alone or find someone else. if he really loved her and appreciated her, he could surely spoil her twice a year.
    just my thoughts.
    i am about to end my relationship because i am realising i am just here to keep him company and look after his kids, while he spends thousands of pounds every month on his two kids and himself and yet maybe R500 on me for Christmas and birthday combined.

  14. I see both sides to this. But ultimately, I hear you LW. If you were gold digging you wouldnt have stayed with him 4 PLUS YEARS while receiving knock off items. It sounds like he is cheap. Maybe because his ex wives took him for all he had. However, if a man loves you, REALLY loves you, then he wants to see you doing well alongside him. That doesnt necessarily mean foot all your bills or take you on constant vacays in the tropics. But he would not be throwing cheap TJ Maxx buys at you when he can afford Valencia. I would be upset too. You have every right to be. I think you should talk to him about it. You should be able to talk about these things as long as you two have been together.

  15. for_cutie says:

    If you are looking up the RN number of a gift then it is time to MOA. It means the gift is just about the monetary value and not the sentiment. You compare yourself to the ex-wife and perceived slights – another reason to MOA. He is choosing to be with you, not her, and you are only hurting yourself by making a comparison. 4 years is long enough and it sounds like you have ‘poisoned the well’ with your own sense of entitlement for material objects. MOA, get some therapy, and learn to love yourself so your next relationship can be emotional and not transactional.

  16. LisforLeslie says:

    There’s something really off about this whole situation. What struck me was the dinners – that the LW implies that he goes to alone. People rarely go to those alone, unless one is truly alone. Galas and charity sponsored dinners are networking events. If you show up alone, you end up talking to people for far shorter times because their partner has no one to banter with and these things are noisy and crowded and you can only hear the people sitting directly next to you at your table. If you’re only buying one seat at a table, you’re stuck with all of the oddballs who only bought one seat too. If you’re with a partner you sit with other people (or you buy the whole table and invite people you know).

    LW – are you sure the wife is an ex? Are you sure you’re not the sidepiece because it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he gave you a piece of crap in a La Perla box because the wife / actual SO got the gift, tossed the box and he thought you wouldn’t know the difference.

    You know what? MOA. He doesn’t think you’re good enough for pricey gifts. And you’re spending too much time wondering if he’ll ever see you as worthy.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I also thought it was odd that he doesn’t take her to any of these social events although she does seem to go out with him and his friends and they go out to restaurants together so he doesn’t seem to be sneaking around with her. Maybe he doesn’t take her because he thinks she will say and do the wrong things. Maybe his ex-wife attends these events and it would be awkward to be there with a date, especially one who wasn’t as well dressed as the ex. Who knows, but it is odd. If he’s gone four years without taking her to the important social functions in his life then I doubt he sees a future with her. If he saw a future he’d be introducing her to all of those people.

  17. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    Love this reply from the LW:

    “thank you. I really do get it. you’ve given me a lot to think about and more compassion. The options you gave me will provide several weeks (or months!) of consideration as I evaluate what kind of person I want to be, what I really value, and what I want for this relationship. I appreciate your plain-speak, and yes, it’s time I went back to therapy to learn how to leave that broken childhood behind and move on. No reply necessary, this is simply a sincere thank you for this wake up call.”

    A mature reply to what was arguably some harsh advice scores some points of redemption in my book. Good luck to you, LW!

    1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

      Wow, that’s a great reply- I hope she can sort everything out. I kind of want an update on how things go.

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Good reply! Wendy gave you lots to think about, LW. What I love about Wendy’s responses is they usually give all of us lots to think about even when the advice is just to one person.

    3. Avatar photo the_optimist says:

      I have to say that even though the letter rubbed me the wrong way, the LW did seem at least sort of self-aware in her initial letter (though she certainly needed Wendy’s dose of reality). I LOVE this response from her. Totally mature and thoughtful. Go you, LW.

    4. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      Good for you, LW.

    5. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

      AWESOME REPLY. and if you need help or assistance, we’re here to help in the forums

    6. First Off, Wendy, I can’t reply to other comments. Anyone else having that problem?
      LW, Here is the problem you face, and everyone here is saying it. Your problem sounds vain and it is hard to articulate the problem. But I don’t think the feeling is vain. I think you are looking at your boyfriend’s ex and feeling that the gifts that he bought her show that he valued her more. You know that he can afford gifts but think he is trying to trick you or thinks you aren’t worth as much. Also, when you are playing with the “elite”, it is hard to not feel like an imposter. Here are a few questions for you:
      1.) Why don’t you ask for what you want?
      2.) Why does this mean so much to you?
      3.) Are you sending mixed signals?
      4.) Are you thankful enough when you get something nice?
      Example. My husband is a HORRIBLE gift giver and surpriser. HORRIBLE. Last Christmas, he gave me a wireless printer….that I neither wanted nor needed. ah, romance. But I blame myself because normally I send him an online wishlist or send him a few items that I want that I know we normally spend on each other and I let him pick. When something matters to me, I give specific instructions like, “This meeting is important and you need to show me it is important by being on time.” or “I expect you to wear a nice shirt on date night to show me you care to be out with me.” These are said very matter of fact. If it is something really important like, “We are doing xxx, if you don’t meet this, I have the right to be mad.” These are clear definable goals. Being passive aggressive never works. Just be aggressive. This will sound harsh, but when my husband and I were dating and talking about marriage, he would fake propose all the time. He would say, “If I ask you to marry me, will you say yes.” and “I hope you like the way I propose.” Stuff like that. When that came up, I told him I expected my ring to be at least a carat. I laid out my expectations so that he could meet them. When you expect someone to read your mind, it isn’t fair to either of you. Good luck.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Are you on a desktop or mobile device?

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Did you actually try posting one? The comment box now shows at the bottom of the screen, even when you’re replying to a comment. But it still puts your reply in the right place. So if you just saw where the comment box was and assumed it didn’t work, give it a shot.

      3. @csp, I agree with the spirit of what you’re saying, that it’s good to tell your spouse what you want and need. But I think it may be better to phrase it as “I would like…” or “In X situation I need Y.”
        I think repeatedly telling a spouse “you need to do X” would be wearing on the marriage. I would very much not like for my husband to tell me “you need to put on a pretty dress to show me you care about looking nice for me.” Or really “you need to do” anything. If he tells me what HE would like (like Wendy said above, something like “I love it when we can walk into a room together in fabulous outfits and wow everyone” or whatever), I can take that into consideration, understand that it’s a need of his that I can meet, and make the decision to do so. Phrasing it the other way would make me feel bossed and resentful.

      4. “I expect” too… It turns it into an order. ““I expect you to wear a nice dress on date night to show me you care to be out with me” would make me ragey. “Why don’t we dress up tonight?” or “I love when you wear a dress and look hot” would motivate me and make me feel like I’m choosing to do something he would like, to make him happy.

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Depends on the guy I think. My brother definitely needs this kind of direction. He likes it actually. He’s never been tested, but I’m pretty sure he’s on the autism spectrum. He can’t take a hint, but if you tell him directly “I want you to do this”, he’s like, ok!
        But I agree that in general this isn’t a good approach. Not unless you know it works for the guy and he likes it.

      6. “I want you to do this” is better than “I expect,” or “you need to” imo. It’s not the directness that’s the problem, it’s making it an order.

      7. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That’s true, good point.

  18. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    What strikes me the most about this is that the LW can’t/won’t talk to him about this, after they’ve been together for -4- years. A conversation needs to happen now. Regarding the gift stuff, I think it’s odd that he’d repackage something cheap to pass if off as more expensive. After so long, I’d be a bit bothered by that too- not because I wanted something expensive, but because it seems sneaky and disingenuous.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Good point. I glossed over the fact that they’ve been together for FOUR years. Has this been an issue since day 1? Is it a new issue that has surfaced?

  19. Avatar photo SavannahAnna says:

    Excellent follow-up from the LW. What I have been wondering is: How did she know what particular purses and designer dresses the ex-wife had?! Right down to colors and brands and price tags? If the boyfriend told you this, I think that’s a clue right there as to what he is doing with you. How sure are you that these were purchased primarily with “his earnings”? He sounds cheap and petty and dishonest, probably living way beyond his means as others have suggested. What are the chances that the ex-wife was always the one with the money, and bought herself — and him — lots of expensive stuff? Why would he go into such excruciating detail about all the pricey stuff that his ex-wife owned, for goodness sake? A clumsy attempt to elevate himself in your eyes, as if only the “finer things in life” will do for him? This all makes me savor a simple home-cooked meal and those thoughtfully chosen 10-buck gifts that show that someone thought it through and “gets” me. It’s not the price tag!

    1. So true! That struck me as well that it’s weird she knows about the ex-wife’s wardrobe (maybe from pictures?). If it’s from him telling her, I see that as a major sign of manipulation and possible emotional abuse.

      1. I think these are the options for how she knows:

        -It’s all still there in the house.
        -The boyfriend has complained about it after the fact, possibly exaggerating.
        -She knew them both before they split up.

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Great comment, very insightful.

      When I was in college there was a guy who was always bragging about how rich he was but he was the poorest rich boy I ever met. He had few clothes, wearing the same ones over and over. He had one pair of shoes. He had one watch that wasn’t expensive. He bragged about his expensive sports car which he didn’t bring to school but the picture of it he had was cut out of a magazine. He had no car at school and would try to get rides from people. Yet there were lots of young women who were intrigued and interested because he was so rich.

  20. I read this as being about a much bigger issue, and that LW has felt something off in the relationship but hasn’t completely identified what it is (so maybe worded the issue ineloquently). Not to judge, because I don’t think anyone should *have* to adhere to society’s norm for relationship milestones and progresses, but it sounds like they aren’t that close given that they’ve been together for 4 years (which would explain why communicating about this hasn’t been as easy). It sounds like they don’t live together, have no marriage or future plans, and only see each other for dinner dates. Frankly, from afar, it sounds like he is not committed. LW, is this the situation you want? This is in line with the gift issue – we have reason to believe this guy shows his love through expensive gifts, and without more information, I would assume that the cheap gifts mean he doesn’t care that much about her. It’s a red flag. The cheap gifts in expensive packaging is also majorly sketchy and shows a lack of respect, like he thinks LW is too dumb to notice and he can snow her. If I had to bet, I would say that he also has other girls he’s dating that he bought the more expensive gifts for, and is reusing those bags.
    LW, I think you are completely right to notice this as a warning sign. PLEASE do not let the harsh comments on here dissuade you from paying attention to your own needs and feelings. You are worth more than this, and need to be able to stand up for what you want. I agree that the focus should not be on the price tags themselves, but the bigger issue of what you mean to him. Instead of questioning your own values, I think you may need to reflect on what you want in a relationship, how to communicate that (try to stay calm and not to make the conversation about you pouting about the gifts – it’s much bigger), and whether to break up with him.

    1. Anonymous says:

      This is what the writer should listen to.

  21. I don’t know if therapy is a right solution here. ( of course thumbs up for therapy for many other issues)

    If the guy is loaded, spends on himself but not on his GF, then he is a cheapskate. If he is then pretending that those cheap gifts are from costly brands, then he is dishonest as well. I would dump him for either of those reasons.

    However, if you (LW) wants to continue to date this loser (for whatever reason including the fact that he seems to move in society high circles), then impose a strict no gifts rule to avoid further resentment. Then you don’t have to buy expensive gifts, he does not have pretend to buy expensive gifts.

  22. To me, the thing that stands out is the boyfriend is blatantly covering up or trying to lie about where he’s purchasing the LW’s gifts. Furthermore, where is he getting these shopping bags from? Left over from the former marriage? Running into a high end store and begging for a bag to put other purchases in that are too heavy? That seems super suspicious. And doesn’t any of this stuff have tags on it that don’t match the bag its put in?

    There’s nothing wrong with buying more high end items at a discount – I have a good sized collection of mid range designer bags and some high end sunglasses, but I’ve only ever paid full price on 2 items.

    Personally, I would stop buying this guy high end gifts and figure out if this bait and switch with the merchandise bags is a sign of a bigger issue, whether that be financial, relationship instability, etc.

  23. Also, LW if you are getting gifts from high end designers (Louis Vuitton level), pretty much all of them have some sort of authentication card or stamp in or on the item – particularly for handbags, leather accessories, sunglasses, etc. Knock offs can be almost identical to the real thing and very hard to spot, which may be how he’s trying to put on over on you. Personally, I find the knock off business to be really low, and I would be pissed if someone that knew me well gave me a knockoff item, and if they tried to pretend it was real, I’d be even more mad.

    1. I don’t think he’s trying to pass them off as genuine. They don’t sell fake Louis Vuitton bags at the mall, they sell them in a Popeye’s Chicken on Canal Street, or through Chinese web sites. I don’t think he’s giving her a bag that looks like a Louis and trying to pass it off as one. Seems like he’s just putting inexpensive gifts in random bags that are probably still lying around his house. That’s really wacky to me.

      1. The whole thing is whacky! I don’t get how he wouldn’t expect her to figure out that the items in the bags weren’t bought at those stores.

  24. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    Maybe he gets the gift bags from his parent’s house or a friend’s house. If he runs in those circles he may grab a bag and no one even notices because they will just be thrown away by a maid.

  25. I focused on the lack of congruence between words and actions in the relationship. If her family was toxic she had no role models for a healthy one, consequently the focus on things. That is what our society throws in her face daily. We don’t know why he divorced. We don’t know income vs lifestyle. All we know is he is cheap and is sneaky about it. Not a formula for a deep, meaningful life together.

  26. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    When he asked for a very specific item, specifying the brand why didn’t you make an equivalent request for a gift from him to you? Do you feel that you can’t ask for what you want? Is this the first Christmas that the gifts have been so bad or has it been every year? He shouldn’t give you a gift that if you were wearing it he wouldn’t want to be seen with you. If he is trying to pass off his gifts as much more expensive than they are he seems to think you won’t know the difference which seems like contempt to me.

  27. Monkeysmommy says:

    Honestly, at first I was kind of appalled, but I think I get where you are really coming from, OP. You want to be valued, and that’s okay. You see that he valued his ex (in your opinion) by giving her nice things. And some men do that- they give the good stuff to a woman once she earns that wife title. I don’t think that’s the case here. I suspect he is either broke or doesn’t think you are worth his money. He gives you cheap shit and doesn’t think you smart enough to know the difference. Unless he had redeeming qualities you fail to mention in either post, MOA. He seems like an ass, and not worth bothering with.

  28. Obviously none of you have ever dated a rich man. When a rich guy does this to you it shows in rich guy language that he does not value you as much as his ex wife. He doesn’t see you as wife material. He is lying to you, deceiving you and using you. Your mistake is trying to interpret and keep up with rich guy. Moa. Find a man who has a heart and soul. And btw find a different advice column to write to. This one is awful

    1. I agree with Chrystal, girl. Just leave this man. He doesnt see you as a wife material. He is just dating you, not wifing you. This is not a materialistic minded. Men wouldnt think twice to spend more if he sees you as wife material.

    2. Then why are you here posting on it if it’s so awful. Also. Guessing she handled this over two years ago.

  29. Bacon Mistress says:

    What I think is REALLY BOTHERING YOU here is that he showered her in expensive gifts but hasnt done that for you. That leaves you wondering what gives? Am I not important as/like she is? HEY THAT’S TOTALLY NORMAL. So no I am not going to beat you up over it.
    It also seems to me that he may not be telling you whole truths. Did he provide the moolah for the luxury living or did she? Or did their combined income do it? Because right now it would appear that he just doesnt have that much money. He either is wearing his old duds or using most all of his money to keep up a Jones’ type lifestyle. But he cant do it for you.

  30. Christine says:

    Wendy, you really missed the mark on this one. There is more going on on his behalf. I see red flags for sure.

  31. Bittergaymark says:

    The harsh reaction to this letter surprised me. Oh, I get that the LW sounds materialistic. But cheap gifts in bags from fancy stores isn’t just tacky. It’s a LIE. And it is gross. Especially as her boyfriend then pretty much turns around and demands expensive and fabulous gifts for himself. (FROM HER!) ?

    He sounds like somebody who is broke, but pretending otherwise. Were it not for his give me! Me!! ME!!! only the most fabulous gift suggestions, I’d be more forgiving, perhaps.

    But team LW all the way on this one for me.

  32. You may be right and he shouldn’t be expecting expensive gifts from you. However, comparison to gifts to his ex-wife, and if he gave much of that to her, or she bought it, it’s family wealth inside a marriage, not a gift to a gf. It sounds like he may have decided that a finance-based relationship had worked very badly for that and vowed not to repeat that approach. He’s no longer married to her. I think judging how much somebody values and loves you based on the $ spent on you isn’t a wise approach. If there were other signs of his not loving you or not treating you well, that’s a different story. But what you wrote makes you sound rather mercenary and shallow.

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