Dear Dude Whisperer,
Help me to understand something.
There’s a guy in my life. We’ve slept together, but we’re not boyfriend-girlfriend or anything. If you had to put a label on it, I guess you’d call it a friends-with-benefits thing. I’m fine with that and I don’t want to change the situation.
Since I do think of him as a friend, though, I treat him like I treat all of my other friends (male and female). If I’m thinking of him, I let him know. If I see something I think he’d like, I buy it for him. I don’t expect the same–or anything, actually–in return. Despite that, whenever I give him a gift, it seems to completely freak him out and send him running. Then I won’t hear from him for weeks or months. What’s up with that? I’m seriously considering not giving him a Christmas gift because of this. It’s a shame too, because I know the perfect thing…
Once gifted, twice shy
There’s an old comedy bit the DW wishes he could properly attribute that goes something like this. A man goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, it really hurts when I do this.” So, the doctor says, “Don’t do that.”
And that’s pretty much the situation you’ve got here. If gift giving is the one thing that throws off an otherwise perfectly functional FWB setup, um, just hold off on the gifts. And Voila!
Now, should you be able to give an FWB a gift? Probably. Hey, the DW would have loved to get gifts from fuckbuddies back in the day. “What’s that? After this no-strings, no-commitment, extra spicy nooner you’d like to give me a no-strings, no-commitment gift wrapped in pretty paper? Don’t mind if I do!” But sometimes people have quirks you have to work around, fair or not. And what the hell. Not buying the dude a Christmas present saves you some time and some cash. Win-win.
Just for the sake of explanation, dudes often have exaggerated reactions like this with FWBs because they simply don’t believe women are as comfortable with a strictly physical relationship as they are. Dudes are told over and over that if you’re fucking a woman without having to offer commitment or exclusivity in return you’re kinda getting away with something. So, even the faintest whiff of Eau de Obligation from an FWB is looked at as the first step of undoing the whole magical setup.
What you should consider is going ahead and putting a label on your currently label-less relationship. Make it into a full blown label party if you like. You can slap Hello My Name Is: Fuckbuddy stickers on each other’s bare asses and go to town with a bottle of wine, a chocolate cake, and a candy cane dildo. Because right now the dude clearly thinks that your gift giving is a move towards label making, anyway- a label that says, “OMG! Girlfriend!” That’s why you’re getting such a swift and severe message volley in return.
And, as always, when in doubt with a dude, the DW thinks going more direct and literal is an option. Rest assured, few dudes in the history of the world would mind hearing, “Look, I find it satisfying to give you presents in a way that you wouldn’t understand any more than you understand how anybody could truly enjoy having your cock in their mouth. Treat it the same way. Sit back and enjoy. Fuckbuddy is just fine. I’m not trying to put your dingdong in a lockbox, okay? ”
Seriously, though. Don’t discount the possibility of taking the doctor’s advice, saving yourself a lot of hassle, and, when it comes to giving him a gift simply, “Don’t do that.”
Here’s to one less gift you need to get.