General Etiquette > general

The Gifting Friend


I have someone in my life who I once considered my best friend, but no longer do. Don’t get me wrong, she is still a dear friend, but I have allowed the relationship to cool. Some years ago, this friend moved from my hometown to several states away. I was determined to keep the friendship alive and worked very hard to keep in touch. At one point, I noted that the friendship was sliding apart, so I mentioned to friend that I did not want that, but was told “friendships are a two way street.” I took that to mean that she did not feel that I was putting forth enough effort, so I worked even harder to keep things alive. However, I realized that I was the only one actually doing any effort. A couple years back, she came for a visit and I was disappointed and even hurt by some comments that were made about me by this “best friend”. I decided that the friendship was not worth the extra effort and I would just let things slide a part a bit. While I no longer consider her my best friend, I certainly find value in the more limited friendship that is left, as well as the "old times". Additionally, she was recently in the area and I made arrangements to see her. During that visit, she mentioned that I was her “closest friend”. So, I am not sure if we view the friendship the same way, because I feel like we are old friends, but not close friends anymore.

At one point, I stopped gifting for birthday’s and Christmas. I speak to this person less than once a month; I am clueless as to her current interests, so gifting was becoming stressful. However, she has continued to gift for both of these occasions. I figured that after some time of me not reciprocating the gifts that she would eventually stop as well. Nope, the gifts continue to this day. They are all quite thoughtful gifts and I do appreciate them and let her know, but I feel guilty for not returning the gift. (There was even a conversation during this recent visit about all the fantastic gifts she’s given to me. It was very awkward and I felt terrible.) So with Christmas coming, what should I do? Is it better to continue not gifting and feeling rude for not returning the kindness? Or should I try to come up with some kind of gift? It’s not that I dislike this individual, I just felt that our relationship was no longer of gifting status.

ETA: I hadn't realized how many gifting threads had been started lately. Opps! Hope I am not boring you!  =)

On the basis that you still place a value on the friendship, and want it to continue, and that she has mentioned the gifting, I think I would either send a gift or address it directly with her and suggest that you no longer exchange gifts, (or suggest that you don't gift at Christmas, which might be a compromise)

Your third option is to leave things as they are, and recognize that she may in turn draw back from the friendship.

If you decide to get a gift, I would suggest something small - maybe a bag of home-made cookies, hand made chocolates or alternatively something such as flowers, or a gift card to a restaurant - they all send the message that you are thinking of her and appreciate her friendship, but as they are all things which will be fairly quickly eaten/used it's not a major problem if they are not to her taste, as she doesn't end up with a gift that doesn't really fit her current lifestyle or tastes but which  she feels obligated to keep.

Given that we are only 5 weeks from Christmas, I think in your shoes I might try to get her a nice gift this year, thank her warmly for whatever she send you and then have a conversation with her in January about not exchanging gifts in future. I don't think it is out of order to say that as you are older and no longer as close as you once were, although you still value her friendship and thoughtfulness, you would prefer to just exchange cars, and enjoy time with her when possible, rather than exchanging physical gifts. Even if she doesn't agree, I think that allows you to limit yourself to cards in the future and she can chose whether or not she does the same.

None of which stops you sending her an un-birthday gift some time if you do see something you think she'd like.

Thank you, Margo! I appreciate your thoughts. Your advice is very thoughtful and considerate of the friendship in its current state. I love your ideas and feel like I am developing a plan of attack. Thank you for helping me find a polite way to navigate this friendship!

I would send a food gift. There are many available at this time of year and it only takes a few clicks to order it!

Thanks bopper, that's actually a fine idea. Who doesn't like food? (Well, they wouldn't be my friend if they didn't!!!)


[0] Message Index

Go to full version