'I've been with my partner 6 years and he's never bought me a gift. He has a "no presents" policy.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

I felt very lucky when I met Marc* at a friend's party six years ago. He was super cute, funny, and kind—well, most of the time. I wouldn’t say our relationship was perfect, we have our ups and downs, like any couple, but there was one thing about Marc that always bothered me: his incredibly selfish "no presents" policy.

From the very beginning, Marc made it clear that he didn't believe in giving or receiving gifts. He said that love should be shown through actions, not material things. I admired his sentiment, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed every time my birthday, Valentine's Day, or Christmas came around. No presents, no cards, not even a small token of his affection.

At first, I tried to understand. Maybe he had a bad experience with gifts in the past, or perhaps he genuinely believed that presents were unnecessary. But as the years went by, my disappointment grew. While I never received a single gift from him, I noticed that Marc didn't hesitate to buy presents for his family.

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His sister received thoughtful birthday gifts, and his mum was showered with beautiful Christmas presents. One year he even gave her a beautiful scarf he’d seen me admire in the shops one day – I didn't buy it for myself as it was too expensive, so it was hurtful to see that he went back to buy it for his mother. I’m not saying she doesn't deserve it, but why would it be so terrible to buy it for me? It stung to see him put so much effort into her gifts while completely ignoring my special days. 


To make matters even worse, despite his selfish rule, Marc happily accepted the presents I gave him. I always put a lot of thought into finding the perfect gift for him, whether it was a book he'd mentioned wanting or a gadget he needed. His face would light up with genuine appreciation, and he'd thank me warmly. Yet, when my turn came, there was nothing!

Last Christmas, I'd spent weeks searching for a rare vinyl record that Marc had once mentioned. On Christmas morning at his mother's house, I excitedly handed him the gift, keen to see his reaction. He was very happy with his gift, thanking me repeatedly. But when it was my turn, he simply shrugged and said, "You know I don't do presents." His family looked quite embarrassed for me.

Another time, on our anniversary, I booked a surprise weekend getaway for us. Marc was very thankful and kept saying how thoughtful I was. But when I hinted at any plans he might have made, he just laughed it off, saying, "We have each other, that's enough." Once again, I felt a knot in my stomach. If he really loved me, surely, he could drop this nasty rule of his?

Over the years, I tried to talk to him about it, telling him I felt unappreciated and unloved. But, he always brushed it off, telling me that our love was stronger than any "little piece of jewellery or flowers." I started to think that I was being selfish. Maybe I was too materialistic?

As my 35th birthday approached, I decided to bring it up again. "I'll be 35 soon," I said one night. "I don't need anything expensive but it’d mean a lot to me if you could get me at least a bunch of flowers. Just something to show that you remember and care."


After a while, he agreed to buy me a bunch of flowers, saying he'd get some red roses if that would make me happy. I was so pleased and so hopeful. Maybe this birthday would be different.

On my birthday, I expected him to walk into the bedroom with a beautiful bouquet. But there were no flowers, no card, nothing. The day passed like any other, and all he managed was to say, "Happy birthday sweetie," as he gave me a kiss.

So that's when I kind of lost the plot. I just couldn't hold back my tears.

 "You promised me flowers," I said. "I didn't expect much, but I hoped you'd keep your promise."

"I'm sorry, I forgot," he said. I knew I was being immature, but I was hoping he felt bad. However, he just went about his day as though it was not my birthday. That's when it hit me – I needed to do something about this or we would eventually break up

Marc's "no presents" policy had caused me more pain than I thought it would. So I gave him an ultimatum: he needed to give me a birthday present every year, and we could both decide to give Christmas presents a miss.

It was a compromise that I felt was fair, a way to honour both our needs. Thankfully, he agreed, and I hope this compromise brings us closer together. But I’ll just have to wait for my next birthday to see if he actually keeps his promise this time.

*Name has been changed due to privacy.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

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