How Knowing Your Attachment Style Improves Your Gift Giving

attachment style gift giving relationships Feb 23, 2021
Couple giving and receiving gifts


In relationships, giving gifts is important. By offering a gift to your partner you are showing your appreciation for what they bring to your life. It shows them how you value them and want to please them. Whether small gifts or large ones, they are all investments in your relationship. 


     While showing your love and appreciation is meaningful and important, what happens when you miss the mark? It happens to us all at some point, but what can you do to avoid that feeling, that knot in the pit of your stomach when your partner is disappointed? Understanding your partner’s attachment style can help you give something that they will appreciate and value. 


     When gift-giving goes wrong with our romantic partners, it can really rupture our emotional attachment if we have patterns of unhealthy attachments. 


How to Determine Your Attachment Style


      Attachment styles are patterned ways you interact within relationships and based in attachment theory. We develop different attachment styles beginning in early childhood with our primary caregiver and they form how we react and what we expect from those we have relationships with. There are four styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. Each comes with a set of traits or ways we view things, and they form our ideas of what we expect from those around us. When you understand attachment patterns it will increase a sense of predictability in your relationship. This will in turn allow you to be more in tune with your gift-giving to your partner. In healthy relationships emotional needs are taken into consideration as you selt a gift for your partner. 


 To learn about your own attachment style, there is a short quiz on Dr. Diane Poole Heller’s website you can take to help you understand each of your styles.


Using Your Attachment Styles for Better Gift Giving

      When you are in a secure relationship you believe that you know what your partner would like. You are confident in choosing the right gift for your partner, something that they would value and enjoy. You also would feel certain that if the gift you chose was not something that appeals to your partner, that it would be ok because they would appreciate your effort and your intentions.


     On the other side of the coin, if you have an insecure attachment style, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, your perceived understanding of what your partner would want may be off. As an example, maybe your wife wants to do something together, and she is thinking of a romantic dinner but you come home with hockey tickets! This could lead to disappointment for both of you. You feel you got a great gift which allows for you to spend time together. She feels misunderstood because she thinks you should know by now that she hates hockey. Couples often think it is because of a difference in love languages but I think it has more to do with your particular style of attachment and how you navigate intimate relationships. 


    People with dismissive-avoidant attachment styles, in my experience, tend to not be well attuned to what the other person wants or would appreciate as a gift. They may spend inappropriate amounts of money of something they like but their partner does not care as much about. 

   On the other hand people with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style may spend hours needlessly ruminating about what to buy as a gift. They are more likely to spend more money than is necessary or appropriate in attempt to make sure that their gift is appreciated. They want to avoid the intense emotions of disapproval. 


     Attachment issues in close relationships will impact the way you approach gift-giving. The good news is that you can both grow into being a securely attached partner that focuses on building emotional connection with each other. These attachment bonds will show up in the little things around how you select gifts for your partner. It is important to remember that our nervous system is impacted by our type of attachment and may make us more likely to shut down or over react when we give or receive gifts not in alignment with our expectations.  


      In a recent blog, I discussed three gifts that are low cost but will have a positive impact on your romantic relationship for years to come (no matter your attachment style). They are emotional closeness, improved physical health, and financial wellbeing. While they will not replace material gifts, they are worth exploring for the benefits both you and your partner will receive. To learn more, you can read my blog, How to Give Gifts that Improve Your Relationship and Keep on Giving.


Conclusion Attachment Styles Matter

      The truth is, gift-giving is important to you, your partner, and your relationship. You want the gifts you give to show your love, be thoughtful, and be appreciated by your partner. Do not forget that the non-material things you share can benefit your relationship for years to come. Whatever the gift, understanding your partner and knowing their attachment style will help you choose something that will be well-received, cherished, and will bring your partner joy.

Would you like more 1 on 1 professional help? Then perhaps Therapy Informed Financial Planning is for the two of you. I invite you to schedule your free 30-minute discovery call today.

Wishing You Healthy Love and Money,

Ed Coambs


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