Gift Decoder: What Your Gifts Really Mean

This season, instead of telling your significant other how you feel about him, let the gift you buy speak for you. Because gifts send messages all their own, we've created the iVillage Gift Decoder, a secret weapon that exposes the true meaning behind some of the most classic gift ideas. We've also asked dating expert Sherry Amatenstein -- a.k.a. iVillage's Dating Doyenne -- to share some of her knowledge on the subject of romantic gift exchanges. So, if the thought of starting your gift search fills you with dread, fear no more. Simply read on….

If You Give...

If You Give: A tie
You're Saying: "Your beer-guzzling, frat boy charm has worn off. Please get a real job."

If You Give: Silk boxer shorts
You're Saying: "The less clothing I see you in, the better, stud."

If You Give: A weekend vacation for two
"I like you enough to spend every moment of the entire weekend with you alone. So if you were wondering if this is serious, it is."

If You Give: A sports car modeling kit
You're Saying: "I know that deep down beneath that manly exterior lies a little boy who wants to play. I respect that."

If You Give: Jewelry
You're Saying: "Did I already mention my ring size?"

If You Give: A shirt
You're Saying: "I like your style, but don't you think you'd look better in something like this?"

If You Give: A framed picture of the two of you
You're Saying: "Either wedding bells are about to ring, or I'm psychotic and will definitely stalk you if we break up."

If You Give: Tickets to a hockey game
You're Saying: "Take me to this game and help me learn more about your interests. Take a friend and lose me forever."

If You Give: A best-selling book
You're Saying: "I don't know you that well, but other people liked this, so why shouldn't you?"

If You Give: A handmade sweater
You're Saying: "I'm definite marriage material, if you like the Martha Stewart type."

If He Gives...

If He Gives: A necklace
He's Saying: "I really care about you and want you to think about me every time you wear this."

If He Gives: Lingerie
He's Saying: "I already think you're sexy, but I've fantasized about seeing you in something like this."

If He Gives: A Cuisinart
He's Saying: "I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm not attracted to you anymore."

If He Gives: A puppy
He's Saying: "I can already visualize the house, the picket fence and the children too."

If He Gives: A sweater
He's Saying: "I've got no imagination and I probably gave the same gift to my mother."

If He Gives: A weekend vacation for two
He's Saying: "I want 48 hours of uninterrupted sex."

If He Gives: A new perfume
He's Saying: "My ex-girlfriend wore what you wear now, so please try this."

If He Gives: A cellular phone
He's Saying: "Either I'm genuinely concerned about your safety or I need to be able to reach you every second of every minute of every day."

If He Gives: A CD you've wanted for months
He's Saying: "I am a good listener and I've got a great memory."

If He Gives: A poem
He's Saying: "I'm a romantic in love. And I'm broke."

The Expert Opinion:

Sherry Amatenstein, iVillage's Dating Doyenne and mistress in the ways of dating and romance, says that any woman is capable of giving and receiving the perfect gifts by following a few dos and don'ts:

  • DO give a book or a CD that you'll know he'll like towards the beginning of a relationship. These options show thoughtfulness, without getting too personal.
  • DO drop hints about what you want before your birthday/anniversary/holidays hit. Either mention some items in passing or take your partner shopping and subtly point things out.
  • DO fall back on leisure- and sports-related gifts towards the start of a tryst. These are safe standards.
  • DO send your man flowers. It is a very romantic gesture that men like too.
  • DON'T give sexy underwear or anything sex-related unless you are already sleeping together.
  • DON'T write a mushy card or give any cutesy gifts unless the relationship is serious and stable.
  • DON'T be afraid to get creative. Adding a personal touch to any gift makes it more unique.
  • DON'T expect all men to be great gift givers. If your man happens to give you something that you hate, try to focus on his good points!

Happy shopping, and good luck!


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