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Early Relationship Gift Ideas & Tips

October 10th, 2021

A couple, with one person sitting on a couch looking up at the other with a smile, while in the foreground the other stands with a wrapped package hidden behind their back.

Is It Too Soon to Give Them a Gift? Gift-Giving in Early Stages of the Relationship

Giving and receiving gifts is one of the most common ways that people express their affection, but it gets complicated when you’ve just started seeing someone new. While you want to show the other person how you feel, you don’t want to seem overeager, clingy, or desperate.

After all, gift-giving is just as much about the recipient’s feelings as it is your own. Upscale jewelry, for instance, is a popular gift among established relationships and married couples, but it could come across as intense and overly-invested instead of romantic if you’ve only been dating for a few weeks. To avoid a situation like this, it’s important to learn more about gift-giving in relationships. Research indicates that gift-giving can strengthen relationships — but only if you do it in the right way. With a greater understanding of this etiquette, you can get your significant other a gift they adore and ensure it helps, rather than harms, your relationship.

Holidays and Major Milestones

No matter how long you’ve been with someone, you’ll still want to get them a present on certain occasions — particularly if gift-giving is a major component of the event. For example, even if you’ve only been together for two weeks, you may damage your relationship if you don’t get your partner a gift on their birthday or at Christmas. You should try to find something you know they’d like, but you don’t need to put too much stock in getting the perfect gift.

Similarly, you should get your partner a gift if they accomplish one of their goals or reach a major milestone, such as graduating from a degree program or getting a promotion at work. Make sure the gift reflects and celebrates their hard work. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top or costly. In fact, it’s probably better to find something that has more sentimental value than anything else.

Things get a little more complicated around Valentine’s Day. This can be a polarizing and emotional holiday. If you’ve only been on a few dates, it’s best to tread carefully; your other half may not be ready to do anything yet. If you’ve been together for a few months, you’ll have a better idea of your SO’s preferences and can plan accordingly.

Less Than One Month

Generally, you shouldn’t give someone a gift this early in a relationship. If you’ve only been on a handful of dates or together for a few weeks, you likely don’t know this person well enough to even know what would be a good present for them. By giving any kind of gift, no matter how small, you run the risk of overwhelming or scaring off your new SO.

One To Three Months

It’s more appropriate to give gifts to your partner after you’ve been together for a few months. If you’re exclusively dating each other, gifts are likely expected. Even if you aren’t, a gift can still be a good idea if enough time has passed or you’ve hit certain early milestones, such as meeting friends and family. It may even help you take the relationship to the next level.

However, you need to be careful about the kind of present you get for your partner at this stage. Don’t splurge on anything too extravagant or expensive, as that may put too much pressure on your relationship. You don’t want your SO to feel as though they have to reciprocate, and you don’t want to put yourself in a position to be disappointed if the feeling isn’t mutual.

Keep it simple. Treat your partner to an activity you can do together, such as going to a movie or out to dinner. If you purchase an item, make it something small and thoughtful, like a book you know they want to read or a board game you’ve talked about playing together. Alternatively, you can make or do something thoughtful for them, such as cooking them a nice meal.

Three To Six Months

If you’ve been together for more than a month or two, gift-giving may become a more normal and natural part of your relationship. You have a good understanding of what their preferences and interests are. Perhaps you alternate who pays for dates or pick up small trinkets you know they’d like.

At this stage, you can up the ante, but not by too much. You should still steer clear of anything too pricey or lavish. You may be head over heels, but your relationship is still in its infancy. A large, expensive gift could scare off your SO, cause unnecessary tension, or ruin a relationship that was otherwise going well.

Instead, this is a good time to start getting more personal with your gifts. While it hasn’t fully developed, you’ve started to cultivate a deeper relationship. Your gifts can reference an inside joke the two of you share or serve as a reminder of a fun date or activity.

Consider gifting something practical that your partner needs, like a new carrying case for their laptop or a piece of cookware they’ve been wanting for their kitchen. They’ll think of you each time they use that item, and though that may be overkill for the earlier phase of your relationship, it’s likely appreciated now.

Six Months To One Year

After six months, it’s likely you and your partner are openly and happily committed to each other. You can start to push the envelope, selecting more expensive, generous, and personal gifts. This could take the form of a getaway for two or another romantic splurge.

Generally, this is the earliest time where it’s acceptable to give nice jewelry. Stick to bracelets, earrings, and necklaces if your partner wears jewelry to dress up, or a timepiece if your partner has a more conservative or formal style. Giving a ring indicates that you want to get serious relatively soon. Unless you’re already in the process of discussing marriage or preparing to propose, it’s best to hold off on any kind of ring.

Over One Year

Once you and your partner have hit one year, you’re undoubtedly in a long-term, committed relationship. You can get them whatever you want (within reason for your relationship, of course). Large or small, practical or romantic, it’s far more about the thought behind the gift rather than the gift itself.

Be mindful of anniversaries! You can skip the monthly updates, but don’t forget the annual celebrations. While you don’t need to go all out each year, you should do something to remind your partner that you care about them and keep the magic of your relationship alive. As time goes on, you and your SO will figure out the best way to celebrate your love.

Keep in mind that the above advice is just that: advice. Take what works for you and your relationship, and leave what doesn’t. These aren’t universally applicable rules, just helpful guidelines. You know your relationship best, and you should always strive to get your significant other a gift that they’ll love, regardless of how long you’ve been together.