Valentines and Romantic Gift Guide;

by Relationship Stage

by Laura Dawn Lewis

LOS ANGELES, JANUARY 19, 2011: January 20th of each year is international break-up day.  Seriously.  More love relationships bust up on January 20th each year than any other day of the year. The why is simple.  A lot of couples stay together for the holidays but they do not want to deal with Valentines as a couple. January 20 seems to be smack in the middle and right around that time each year a lot of couples will call it quits.  Of course this article isn't for newly single.  This article is for those of you who've met someone special in the past 365 days and you're starting to realize Valentine's is just around the corner and what do you do?

Make no mistake, if your relationship goes the distance and in the future you become man and wife, he or she will remember what you give him or her on this Valentine's Day.  It is your first. Therefore if this is somebody you think is pretty cool and possibly someone who's going to be around for awhile, put some thought into this gift.  But also be careful not to send the wrong message. 

What gift if any do you buy?  How do you know you're not being presumptuous? When in doubt, default to your intended's hobbies or career for gifts. These are always safe bets and well-received.

What shouldn't you do? The how and the what have more to do with how long you've been dating than anything else. It is very easy to send the wrong message through your choice of gifts. So let's first deal with some of the broad guidelines.

I realize society seems to tell you that sex is a free for all and everyone is doing it.  The truth is they're not and even if you are engaging in sexual relationships in the first ninety days of your relationship, there are certain gifts you hold back on until you are a committed couple and have been together for at least six months. The why for this will be explained later. Gifts reserved for after six months include anything of a sexual nature such as lingerie, adult toys, massage kits, sex classes and tantra related materials.  Non-sexual gifts that should be reserved for relationships six months and older includes red roses, expensive jewelry, furs, leather coats, basically any gift over $300 if a man is buying or over $200 if a woman is buying.

There are some no-no's in the FIRST SIX MONTHS.

No-No #1: Gift cards

Gift cards, (to stores for products as opposed to gift certificates for dinner, spas and shared adventures) are a copout and about as unromantic as you can get. The exception is a spa day where she can be pampered or for a romantic dinner or event with you. In general what gift cards say is 'I didn't have time or didn't care enough to go out and get you something special so you can go get it yourself because I know I have to get you something or you'll be pissed." 

The only time a gift card is okay as a romantic gift is if you've been dating less than six weeks. You are not in a relationship yet.  You're dating. You can be somewhat impersonal but gift cards as a rule are for co-workers, associates, your siblings...not your lover or romantic interest.

No-No #2: 'I Love You' Teddy bears, pillows, frames etc...or RED ROSES

If you have not said 'I Love You' to your girlfriend or boyfriend and he/she has not said it back to you yet unprovoked and sober, do not buy a Valentine's gift with I love you scrawled all over it. If you've established that you love each other already and you both say it often, this is okay and knock yourself out with all the I Love You gear you can handle. Same with the red roses.  They represent true love and if given too soon, can spook rather than please.  Go with pink, white or yellow instead.

No-No #3: As previously mentioned, lingerie and other sexual gifts.

No-No #4: E-mailed Valentine Cards or text messaging

These are great for friends and casual acquaintances.  They are a slap in the face to a romantic interest if that is all you are doing for Valentine's Day. If you can't be there, pick up the phone and make the phone call or walk down to the drugstore, buy a card and write a nice note in it before sending.  Anything less says you don't care.  If that is the case, then why are you dating each other?

There are always exceptions and you know your relationship better than anyone else. What I can tell you is following these guidelines will not hurt your relationship.  Not following them may. Ultimately it is up to you.

How could not following them hurt you? I'll give you a little of my own situation as an example. We'll call him Donald. 

Donald and I met in August 2010.  He lives in another very large city in California and is an attorney with a college age son and nine years my senior. I really like Donald, but he's almost lost me a couple of times by suggesting inappropriate gifts and jumping the gun on getting to know me. I call it 'threatening me with Victoria Secret'. 

Don't get me wrong. I love lingerie.  In fact Myla, which sells silk lingerie, is one of my favorite stores on Couples Company.  I'm not prude either.  I have two best-selling books on erotica, Sensuality Volume One and Volume Two.  These facts are irrelevant. Just because I enjoy my sexuality doesn't mean I want to objectified. It is flattering to have a man want to buy you lingerie and dress you up in it when you've been together for a while. It's just plain creepy when you haven't.

Donald started threatening me with Victoria Secret six weeks into the relationship and really made me feel like he saw me as a slut.  I didn't like it and speaking with other women, I'm not alone.  It was too soon. After an awkward conversation, he got the message.  He thought he was flirting.  I simply saw it as presumptuous and a man who wasn't looking at me as a potential girlfriend, but rather as sex buddy. When I confronted him if that was what he wanted, he said no. I concurred. I wasn't looking for that either so we needed to turn it down a notch or two for awhile. If he hadn't already attracted me with his intelligence and wit, I would have dropped him over this.  Fortunately, we'd gotten to know each other as friends first, and though creeped out, this wasn't a deal breaker.

The point I'm trying to make gentlemen is it could have been a deal breaker. Error on the side of caution and stick with sweet rather than sexy for the first six months. When she falls in love with you, you'll get your sexy siren. But let her fall in love with you first....everything will be so much sweeter in the long run.

So what are the general guidelines for Valentine's Gift Giving?

The following will give you a good idea.  Check out the Girlfriend and Boyfriend Stores for our pick's on this season's gifts.  


TOGETHER 0-3 MONTHS: Keep it light.  
(Spend $50 or less if you are a Women, $75 or less if you are a Men)

The big question here is: Are you exclusive?  If you've already stated to each other that you are exclusive (both of you have said and agree to this; neither of you is dating or seeing anyone else and you see each other at least once a week and speak to each other at least 3X a week) you are in the beginning of a possible long-term relationship. This phase is called the infatuation stage and everything including each other is perfect.  The bad news? 70% of you will break up before you hit six months.  Because of this, don't go overboard.  You may live to regret it!

Gifts for Girlfriends: GIRLFRIEND STORE 0-3 MONTHS

Gifts for Boyfriends: BOYFRIEND STORE 0-3 MONTHS

Not too Serious Yet ($125 or less Women, $200 or less Men)

This is the toughest part of any relationship because most won't survive through six months.  During this period you are beginning to see your partner's faults; you'll decide if you will become exclusive and your lives are beginning to intertwine.  Keep gift giving subdued, but appropriate. No lingerie; it is too presumptuous at this stage.


Small jewelry items (earrings, costume jewelry), perfume and simple clothing items like sweaters, shirts, scarves, gloves, hobby related items and hats. Services like 1-hour massage, facials or manicure/pedicures are also great gifts. Anything you've made like drawings, wood or metal working, poems or short stories.


Money clips, pens, sweaters, gag gifts, tickets to events, hobby related gifts if he/she collects or has a passion (Golf or Sports) are always appropriate. Anything you've made like drawings, items sewn or knitted, poems or short stories.  Car gifts are good too.

You're Committed! ($300 or less Women, $500 or less Men and in this economy, less is more!)

If you've made it through and past six months, you've got a good thing.  This is the negotiation phase of a relationship where you learn to be a team through give and take.  You'll be defining your roles as we during this time.


Give something tangible that marks your relationship's status. Lingerie is appropriate at 6 months as are more expensive gift items like fine jewelry (Under $250), watches, trips and interesting items for the home. Guys: stay away from the kitchen appliances, cleaning items or anything matronly unless she's specifically asked for one from you.  These are good gifts when you're married, but they are really disappointing to women when you are not. Anything you've made like drawings, wood or metal working, poems or short stories.

Personalized gifts are very appropriate for both he and she, especially jewelry with an engraving.


Nice watches are our favorite gift in this stage. Dream experiences like the chance to be a race driver for an hour, a fishing trip, Pre-paid green fees, maid service for a day etc.. Clothing items like sweaters, sweatshirts and ties.  Jewelry items like cufflinks, tie pins, engraved money clips, engraved pens or engraved anything are also good. Anything you've made like drawings, items sewn or knitted, poems or short stories.

($700 or less (Men), $500 or less (Women); 
exception is engagement rings)

This is the final stage of a new relationship where you are now a team and operate as one.  You have both short and long-term plans together and your gifts can and should reflect this longevity.  You will most likely be spending part if not all of the holidays together. 


Fine Jewelry, something very nice and unique that is made of real gold, silver or platinum with precious and/or semi precious stones. Make it something she can wear every day like a necklace, locket, watch or ring. Unique dress watches or a favorite print from an artist are also appropriate.  Perfume can be given, but only as an add-on gift.  The one year mark needs to be special, which is why we recommend jewelry. 


Give something he can use or wear every day to remind him of you.  A gold engraved money clip, a unique clock, something for his business or something that reflects his family history. The key is personalization.  This gift needs to be personal and unique. If you think you will be proposed to within a year, hold off on the watch.  Most women give a nice watch as an engagement present once he proposes.  Tie clips just don't have he same pizzazz. Anything you've made like drawings, items sewn or knitted, poems or short stories is always appropriate.


Most experts recommend that you date a person for at least a year before proposing.  The reason for this is that each of the four stages: 0-3 months (infatuation), 4-6 months (disenchantment) 6-9 months (negotiation) and 9-12 months (unity) have their own pitfalls and prizes.  You need a full year to see the good, bad and quirky sides of your partner.  If you are going to propose, do so on Valentine's Eve, (together in private away from the family) or Valentine's Evening, again together in private.  Better yet, do it on the 15th.  If she says no for whatever reason, you don't want Valentine's to be a yearly reminder.

Why not do it in front of the family and guests?  Opening an engagement ring in front of the family is a lot of pressure and can be quite embarrassing for her. She will not want to disappoint or embarrass you and may want to ask you several questions before accepting.  It's also the most important decision she will ever make.  Burying the event in the midst of the holiday hoopla diminishes the importance of it.  Take her for a drive, go for a walk, retreat to a private room to ask.  It's your moment, the two of you.  Give her the opportunity to share it just with you before the rest of the family becomes involved.

Anonymous commented on 17-Oct-2011 07:36 PM1 out of 5 stars
I don't have that much money ANSWER: Some of the best gifts don't cost any money. Clean up his/her yard or house as a surprise. Try making something you know he or she will like. Write a poem about your love affair; draw a picture, collect little things
like coasters, napkins, bookmarks and ticket stubs from places you've been together and put together a little scrapbook documenting your relationship. If you don't have money, use your imagination and create something unique for your love. That's something
people treasure their entire lives. Good luck and thanks for your comments. Couples Company.
A-M Budyn commented on 10-Feb-2012 06:59 PM5 out of 5 stars
A very informative site, it helped me to be a little more objective and gave good pointers and sensible advice. Thank you

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