“I can’t match his extravagant gifts”- Dr Louise answers your burning questions

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Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images
Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images

Is he really okay with the distance?

My boyfriend lives in Australia, while I’m in South Africa. Although we talk regularly, I can’t help feeling our long-distance relationship might be strangling him a bit. I’m afraid to ask him about it, and I don’t want to burden him with small, inconsequential things.

Due to the nature of our work we see each other only once a month or so. What can I do to find out if he’s really okay with us having a long-distance relationship? And how do I show him how much he means to me?

- Anonymous, email

Dr Louise’s advice

The best way to find out how he feels is to ask him – and talking to him about whether he’s okay with the two of you having a long- distance relationship is by no means a small, inconsequential thing.

Choose the right time to talk about it, preferably the next time you’re together rather than during a phone call or when you’re chatting on WhatsApp.

Tell him what your concerns are and ask him to  tell you honestly how he feels about having a long- distance relationship.

You should also tell him how you feel – that even though it’s a challenge being so far away from him,  he means a lot to you and what you share is precious to you.

Showing someone special that you care about  them is often about the small things in life, about  the little ways in which we show people they’re important to us.

Prepare a special gift for the next time you’re going to see each other. Fill a shoebox with lots of small things that you know he likes, such as little packs of his favourite snacks and a book you think he’ll enjoy.

You could choose things that represent something you like about him or are reminders of you or your relationship – for example a key ring that’s symbolic of a place that’s special to the two of you.

Along with the present, give him a list explaining the meaning of each gift so that every time he uses or sees each gift he’ll remember what you said and be reminded of you.

 

I can’t match his extravagant gifts

My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years and have spoken about getting married in two years’ time. He gave me a very extravagant Christmas gift – a brand-new car. He’s an actuary and earns a lot of money, and although I appreciate his gift a lot I don’t want him to think I’m a gold-digger.

The fact that he has money isn’t at all what attracts me to him. He’s a kind, thoughtful, trustworthy guy and he makes me feel safe and secure when I am with him. I grew up in an orphanage and am not used to having someone looking out for me and being there for me.

I want to reciprocate his gift but obviously can’t come near giving him as extravagant a gift as he’s given me. What could I possibly give him?

- Lana, email

Dr Louise’s advice

I’m sure your boyfriend doesn’t expect an extravagant gift from you in return and that the present he gave you is more about making your life easier and keeping you safe than the monetary value of the gift itself.

While it’s understandable that  you want to reciprocate, I’d guess  he doesn’t expect you to spend a  lot of money simply because he did.

Be creative and have some fun with the gifts you give him.

You could for example give him handmade “vouchers” that he can redeem anytime he wants.

Some ideas for the vouchers would be things such as giving him a massage or making his favourite dish for dinner one night.

This would be much more fun than  a bought present. It will also  ensure that you spend lots of quality time  together.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them
American writer Ernest Hemingway
 

My parents’ relationship

My mother is having an affair with our neighbour. My father is working in Dubai and returns only once every three months for a few days then flies back to Dubai again.

I’m sure my mother still loves my dad but she’s obviously lonely and the neighbour is supportive and kind. He’s not married and goes out of his way to help her.

I can’t even be angry with either of them as I understand the situation.

My father was retrenched and was unable to find work in South Africa, and he was lucky to get work in Dubai. But I’m afraid this overseas job will destroy my parents’ marriage. What do I do?

- Alma, email

Dr Louise’s advice

It’s unfortunate when having to find employment in another country forces a couple into a long- distance relationship and all the challenges that come with that.

You can’t really do anything about your mother having an affair, and it’s refreshing to note that you view it in such an adult way rather than simply being angry. You’ve realised that life isn’t  always straightforward.

You’ll just have to let your mother, the neighbour and your father work this out for themselves – it’s their lives, after all.

The next time your dad is home, give them space and time together so they have the chance to be alone and talk. This may help give your mom awareness of what she’ll be throwing away if she persists with her relationship with the neighbour.

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