Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holidays: the gift-denigration ritual

This is the Alpha Game Holiday Survival Guide part I.

A significant amount of male stress over the Christmas season can be eliminated by keeping in mind one simple fact: women do not feel gratitude in the same way men do.  This is why they so often receive gifts in a manner that men find irritatingly ungrateful.

How many times have you seen this happen on Christmas?  A woman receives a gift from someone, anyone, and immediately begins to explain what is wrong with it, why it isn't exactly what she wanted, or that she really would have preferred something else.  If she's polite, she'll preface this with a broadly smiling "thank you".  If she's not, she'll launch directly into what men tend to hear as the "here is how you fucked up even though you bought me precisely what I said I wanted in November" speech.  Every single man I know has found himself, at one time or another, thinking "Merry fucking Christmas, why the hell do I even bother?"

It is understandable that men tend to find this superficially ungracious response to be dispiriting, if not soul-killing, which is why most men absolutely hate, hate, hate buying anything for women at any time.  Those guys you see out on December 24th aren't necessarily idiots or procrastinators, (although they may be), they may simply be putting off what they know from experience to be a painful and humiliating experience as long as possible.

However, it doesn't have to be that way.  Enduring the ritual female response to receiving gifts is a lot easier to bear once a man understands that women see gifts as being, first and foremost, obligations.  Think about how a woman responds whenever another woman gives her a gift.  In most cases, she immediately starts talking about how the gift wasn't necessary and promises that she will somehow do something for the gift-giver in the future, presumably because she knows if she doesn't respond in kind, she loses a point in the eternal game of woman versus all women on the planet.

Think about that.  What man ever responds to an unsolicited gift by saying that it wasn't necessary?  Of course it's not necessary, says the male mind, that's why they call it a gift and not a debt!  Why would anyone even imagine that I HAD to buy it?  No one pointed a gun at me and said: give her that there tweed coat or die!  But that's logic, and we're dealing with feelings here.

The promise to repay the newly imposed obligation is one tactic, but it is one that isn't applicable on formal gift-giving occasions such as Christmas and birthdays.  Hence the reliance on the alternative tactic, which is to verbally reduce the perceived value of the gift of to nothing, thereby eliminating the sense of obligation that the woman feels.  I posit this as the source of the ritual gift-denigration; once a man recognizes this pattern at work, it can be tremendously amusing to watch a woman desperately try to find a way to somehow disqualify a gift so that it doesn't count as an obligation on her.  In fact, the truly generous man will always buy women gifts that he knows are imperfect in some way; this will make it easier for her to disqualify the gift and thereby make it possible for her to enjoy it.

It is important to understand that this behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you or your choice of gift.  It doesn't even have anything to do with her per se!  The gift-denigration reaction is sub-rational and instinctual; most women are appalled and embarrassed if they ever come to realize that they are habitually behaving in what appears to be an ungracious manner.  So relax, don't let it faze you, don't let it irritate you, and by all means, don't try to argue with her when she starts nonsensically babbling that although the Porsche you bought her is her favorite color and she really loves it and she doesn't know how to drive stick, she really wanted a manual transmission because this would have been the perfect opportunity to learn how to drive one.

(Of course, if you had bought her the car with a manual transmission, she would have complained that you clearly don't know anything about her, since she doesn't even know how to drive stick.  Women can always find a means of disqualifying a gift; they can be geniuses in this regard.)

The good news is that the fact she's denigrating a gift means that she feels a sense of obligation from receiving it.  So, the ideal response is to smile and say "I'm glad you like it."


Anonymous said...

As I read this, the truth of what it says hit me.

Not only will the denigration of the gift take place at the time of its giving, it will also be run down during discussions with her girlfriends.

Sad, but truth is truth.

taterearl said...

Because of this...I'm now getting the engagement ring out of a vending machine. Do they still make ring pops?

Fausta said...

You guys need to find a better class of women.

Heh said...

Back in the cassette tape days, I would periodically make a "mix tape" for myself and give a copy to my buddy. Inevitably, and I mean every single time, his wife would whine and complain about one or more of the songs on it that she didn't like.

I didn't expect gratitude from her, since it wasn't a gift to her anwyay, but still it bridled. But now the phenomenon has been explained!

Signe said...

Nothing creates gratitude and appreciation like having done without. I lost ten pounds my freshman year because I was a picky eater and wouldn't touch the cafeteria food; a period of deprivation, and now I have a much broader appreciation of food.

It works the same way with tokens of affection, for what it's worth. A woman who's had to do without them comes to appreciate them better. Doggone spoiled women.

This is my second Christmas with no family and no friends, and I'm at the point where I'd lay down my life for someone who made me feel like he or she cared.

Anonymous said...

I gave the perfect gift for my gf this christmas. She has really high sex drive and wants sex more than i do, so i made a copy of my dick for her. She LOVED it.

stg58/Animal Mother said...

I have never experienced this phenomenon.

Jacob Ian Stalk said...

I don't give gifts to women. They've had a free ride for far too long. Feminism means it's time women earned their keep. No gifts. No apologies.

Loki of Asgard said...

I'm at the point where I'd lay down my life for someone who made me feel like he or she cared.

So a fistful of insect-ridden flowers is all it takes to hire you as a human shield? Why was this not on your resume, wench?

Anonymous said...

Back in the cassette tape days, I would periodically make a "mix tape" for myself and give a copy to my buddy. Inevitably, and I mean every single time, his wife would whine and complain about one or more of the songs on it that she didn't like.

"I just love this song" and blast the volume.
And sing along off-key, too. With body weaving and hand motions. While driving down the highway. Remember to take both hands off the wheel occasionally.

Oh, and skittles.

Anonymous said...

Set up a no gift policy, giving or receiving, from the very start. My H and I stopped acknowledging "special occasions" a couple of years ago. No cards, no gifts. Instead H sidles up to me and says "Happy Birthday!" or "Happy Anniversary" or "Merry Christmas!" .. See, cheap easy and no hassles. It works for my H and finally now after all these years it works for me because I feel completely apathetic about this between the two of us. I do however continue to enjoy giving our children gifts and they are great receivers. Very happy and grateful. Wonderful human beings they are. Thank you God.

Anonymous said...


"This is my second Christmas with no family and no friends, and I'm at the point where I'd lay down my life for someone who made me feel like he or she cared."

Forget about your egotistical needs. It's just you and God again.


Signe said...

Forget about your egotistical needs.

I suppose I should be grateful for my job and just leave it at that. I see now that wanting to dedicate my life to a man was just selfish and pointless...

Christmas, who needs it?

Signe said...

...And I'm sorry, folks. I lost my grip on myself and I guess I tried to draw attention to myself. I ask your forgiveness, and I'm going now so I don't make any more trouble.

Happy days to you all.

stg58/Animal Mother said...

Signe and Loki you two need to get a room with whips and chains in it.

Anonymous said...

Signe said...
Forget about your egotistical needs. I suppose I should be grateful for my job and just leave it at that. I see now that wanting to dedicate my life to a man was just selfish and pointless...

Wait, you're a woman? Okay, it makes sense now. It's all about you. Carry on.

Stickwick said...

This explains the "red dot" episode from Seinfeld.

Badger said...

Anonymous Coward above beat me to it, but the Roisster had the right idea:

Be a skittles man.

Also, have her bring the movies.

Jeigh Di said...

"I had the blues 'cause I had no shoes
'til I met on the street a man with no feet"

Signe, in a couple of days it's Christmas. Go down to the Salvation Army and volunteer. There are a LOT of hurting people out there who would really appreciate your help.

VD said...

Signe, don't apologize. I'm glad you mentioned that. It's not unimportant. I've responded to your comment at VP.

Cryan Ryan said...

I stumbled across this Gift Game concept about 25 years ago. Simple two step rule...

1) Christmas isn't about me.
2) No gifts. No exceptions.

2a) (No birthday gifts either.)

Before that time, every time I gave a gift, I suffered for it.

Since that time, life has been good.

dustydog said...

The correct response is
"Somebody guy gave it to my mistress, and I thought that you would like it."

Loki of Asgard said...

Signe and Loki you two need to get a room with whips and chains in it.


Badger said...

"women see gifts as being, first and foremost, obligations"

This coincides with my latest theory about why women hate beta-supplication game...that the totality of beta behavior triggers this uncomfortable feeling of obligation in the woman. Every favor, gift gift, dinner out, even times he forgives her for bitchy, crass or cruel behavior, inures her into a feeling she owes him something. And if there's one thing I've found can kill a tingle with consistency, it's the suggestion she owes some romantic debt (be it sex or love) to a man. (Just read the responses of women who say they want a better sex life but refuse ideas like committing themselves to say yes, or to go on a "sex streak.")

Let it be written: women trade in emotional currencies, which can't be subject to obligatory reciprocity the way rational currencies can.

I've even encountered this with women in their jobs, where they take very personally the suggestion that they are obligated to perform the duties of their job. It's like to get them to do their job for your benefit, you need to game them into WANTING to do it as a favor to you. This is very different than the world of men, where our work is an expression of our efficacy and where we take pride in performing our job not because it gets us personal approval but because it's important to the male self-concept that we can get things done.

Finally, gifts, favors etc signal to a woman that you think her to be high value, which she might react negatively to if she knows she's not high value. Men respond to this kind of situation with gratitude, women seem to respond to it with contempt for the giver as a rube.

I had a post awhile back featuring a video where a guy interviewed women on the street (in a beach town, barely distinguishable from women OF the street). This guy encountered one woman who said "nice guys are always trying to get me to quit drinking, quit smoking...F*$# that."

"So the nice guy tries to make you a better person, the bad boy knows you're a shitty person and accepts it?"


Anonymous said...

Er... Instead of all this, I told her she sounded like an ungrateful cunt earlier last year... Now what?

MaMu1977 said...


If your holidays are lonely, the blame lies with you. It sounds like your relationship with your relatives is amicable. *You* chose to move away from them. *You* chose limited contact with them (which is kind of sad. Less than 10% of my relatives live in my state. Over half of them don't live in America. So, we save up money for marathon phone sessions and Skype. I spent 5 hours talking to people in England, Australia, Korea, Canada and Jamaica yesterday.) Same goes for friends. I'm not the most sociable person, yet I've given cards to the guys at my local comic shop, my local pub, both of the local Chinese restaurants and all of the bodegas (as well as both of my cougar hook-ups and my younger FWB.) Even if all of your "real" friends went home for the holidays, even if your family members are part of a figurative Grand Guignol of psychodrama, it doesn't mean that you can't find other people with whom to spend time.

I spent three years of my life in a foreign country. For two of those years, I barely spoke the language (I spent 18 months on a military base, then I had to learn the native language on the fly when I was required to live on the local economy.) Somehow, I managed to find people who were willing to put up with my paltry Deutsch and who were glad to meet an American who didn't laugh at their high school English. To make matters worse, I discovered Game at the same time (which meant that most of my friends had to ignore their annoyance at an Auslander picking up their women.) Yet, on Christmas Day, I was greeted with "FRÖHE WEINNACHT, feldwebel!" I was a 6 foot tall black man, living in a foreign country, who barely spoke the language and who was fucking German women as if I thought that there was an "Out of business!", sign at the local Cute German Girl factory, and I spent my holidays drinking with former Neo-Nazis. If you can't even find some poor schlub in your vicinity to be "lonely together" with, that's a personal decision. If no one wants to be around you for the holidays, that's a wakeup call.

Professor Ashur said...

Give the Gift of Skittles.

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