Tips For Addressing A Gifting Disparity In Your Relationship

In romantic relationships, both partners rarely make the same amount of money. Depending on what each partner does for a living, the wage gap between them can be huge, especially if we take into consideration the fact that women make 84 percent of what men make, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


While a wage gap may not seem like that big of a deal in some relationships, there are times when the disparity can become really noticeable. For example, in gift-giving. What may be considered inexpensive for one person may seem almost unattainable for another. Because of this, one person may end up feeling like they can't live up to their partner's standard of gift-giving, while the other may feel like they unintentionally made their partner feel bad.

Gifts are gestures of love and appreciation. If you're feeling bad because your partner got you a vintage Rolex and you got them a sweater, then it's time to talk about it. 

Explain how the disparity makes you feel

If you're feeling awkward about the gift-giving differences between you and your partner, the best thing is to bring it up as soon as possible. If you let it go, thinking the situation will just remedy itself, you're mistaken. Also, as birthdays and anniversaries come and go, the discrepancy will remain, and feelings of guilt or resentment will just pile up.


Whether you're the one giving the more expensive gifts or your partner is, you want to explain how you feel. If you haven't talked about finances yet, this might be a time to do it. Granted, how much you make and how much your partner makes may not be your business or theirs in the early part of your relationship, but if things get serious, then you'll want to know. Once you know each other's financial situation, it will help guide you in understanding why there may be a gift disparity. For some people, dropping a few hundred on a gift for someone they love is no problem, while for others, it can be impossible.

Talk about gift expectations

Some people are raised in families where gift-giving is a big thing. Some families believe less is more, while others think more is more, so they really load up on the gifts. If you and your partner not only have an income discrepancy but also a different idea of what gift-giving looks like, then it might be time to discuss gift expectations. This could include putting a price cap on gifts or instead of spending money on gifts, getting creative when birthdays and holidays roll around. Nothing says love like the homemade gifts of making your partner dinner or them taking over all the chores for a week. 


Gifts are supposed to make both the giver and receiver feel good. They shouldn't induce anxiety or make either partner feel bad. Leveling gift-giving so that it's equal, no matter how much each partner makes, is the best way to avoid feelings of inadequacy.

Let this be an opportunity to talk about love languages

If you've yet to delve into the world of love languages with your partner, this is a perfect time. According to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch — and everyone has one. If your partner is going above and beyond with the gifts, then there could be a very real chance that their love language is gifts, which means they show their love through giving and feel love and appreciation from receiving gifts.


It's important to realize this isn't a sign of materialism, nor does it mean that the bigger, more expensive gift is somehow linked to how much your partner loves you. When it comes to gift-giving and gift-receiving, even a small gift for those whose love language is gifts says so much. So don't think that every time you give your partner a gift, you need to hit up Cartier. 

Remind yourself that gifts are gestures of affection, not a competition

As much as you might want to give your partner the world, gifts, big or small, are gestures of affection. No one has to give anyone a gift, so when you receive one or give one, see it for what it is and know it's not a competition. Big gifts don't equal more love, and small gifts don't equal a lack of love and respect. Although we live in a capitalist society where everyone wants more, more, more, don't drag that into your gift-giving with your partner. When you're in love, just being with someone should be all the gifts you and your partner need. Sure, everyone loves a sparkly something in a box with a bow from time to time, but if your relationship is based more on gifts than on enjoying each other's company, you may want to re-evaluate what love means to you.