Advice

What NOT to Get Him for Valentine’s Day

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True story: though we don’t always show it, most of us who tout a Y-chromosome take pride in our presentation. We clean — or at least rearrange — our apartments before you come over. We fancy ourselves capable of determining how much facial hair is too much facial hair. We pop the caps off various deodorants to compare bouquets before selecting one for purchase. We deliberate outfits in front of mirrors. We even bathe (on occasion).

Related: 5 Ways Valentine’s Day Can Destroy Your Relationship
We have preferences. And not just regarding appearance. The movies we watch, the books we read, the art (if you can call it that) that adorns our walls — all chosen. Via free will. So please, we’re begging you: on this day devoted to displaying love and affection for one another, don’t get us something you want. Or something you “think we should have.” Or, worse yet, something you believe could effect “positive change” in our lives. We can talk about that some other time, like during one of our drunken fights, when we can say mean things without “really meaning it.” But on Valentine’s Day, let’s do one another a favor and celebrate us. Let’s smile, act civil, make out in public, and exchange gifts that elicit genuine gratitude. And then tomorrow we can start being hyper-critical of one another again.

With that in mind, here is an inventory of some things men don’t want to unwrap this Valentine’s Day:

Related: 5 Things Not to Get Your Girlfriend on Valentine’s Day
The Self-Gift
The ostensible purpose of exchanging gifts is that we both receive one. Still, some of you (and us, admittedly) will try to subvert the traditional gift-giving paradigm and pass off something you need/want as something we need/want as well. No matter how cunning the presentation, we’ll never mistake The Notebook for Die Hard. Even if you wrap it in military fatigues.

Tickets to a Ballet/John Mayer Concert/The Vagina Monologues

What You Say:Swan Lake is the tale of one man’s heroic effort to thwart an evil genius after being victimized by a case of mistaken identity. Kind of like The Big Lebowski.
What We Hear: “My friends are all going to be out of town that weekend … ”

That New Chick Flick

What You Say: “It’s got that guy from (insert action movie title here) in it.”
What We Hear: “I thought maybe we could do dinner and then afterward you’d want to come home and gouge your eyes out while I watch this. Sound like fun?”

An Album by Some Guy with an Acoustic Guitar and a Telltale Lilt to his Voice

What You Say: “He is, like, such a talented musician.”
What We Hear: “This is the guy whose face I mentally superimpose over yours when we make love.”

A Framed Photo of Yourself (Unless It’s a Naughty One)

What You Say: “Now I can be with you all the time, babe!”
What We Hear: “Don’t forget who owns you, bitch.”

The Passive-Aggressive Gift
Chances are there are features of your husband/fiancé/boyfriend/f**k-buddy/hired-escort that merit improvement. Try articulating that to him with words, rather than one of these gift-wrapped insults.

A One-Month Gym Pass

What You Say: “It really turns me on to see you sweaty and over-exerted.”
What We Hear: “You get sweaty and over-exerted way too easily.”

This Book, or Any Similar Title

What You Say: “I think we’re great together. Reading this book will help us keep it that way.”
What We Hear: “I couldn’t quite muster the heartlessness to break up with you on Valentine’s Day.”

Hair Treatment/Removal Products

What You Say: “I think more/less hair on your head/body would do wonders for your self-concept.”
What We Hear: “My Facebook default pic would be so much more flattering without that hairy/hairless slob next to me.”

Things We’d Rather Buy Ourselves
It goes without saying that hemorrhoid medication falls into this category. But so do a lot of more practical things, like clothes, toiletries and electronics. Of course, if you’ve been married for twenty-five years, you probably know his preferred size/fragrance/style, in which case I invite you to ignore this category. For those who are still getting acquainted, though, you’d be well advised to go a safer route, e.g. a bottle of his favorite liquor or tickets to see that band he loves.

Related: The Coolest DIY Valentine Ever
Cologne/Hair & Body Products/Anything that Will Collect Dust in His Medicine Cabinet

What You Say: “It smells heavenly.”
What We Hear: “You don’t.”

Clothing (Barring Underwear and Socks, Which I’ll Get to Later)

What You Say: “Your butt will look so cute in these skinny jeans!”
What We Hear: “I hate that you value comfort over vanity.”

Cleaning Supplies, Tools and Other Means of Home Improvement

What You Say: “This vacuum cleaner is so easy to use. It practically runs itself.”
What We Hear: “I go home and take three consecutive showers every time I leave your apartment.”

Cop-Outs
These gifts indicate a lack of effort on your part. Your man will likely commit senseless amounts of time and money to insuring your emotional welfare this February 14th. The least you can do is repay the favor (I meant with a material gift – but yes, we’d welcome that kind of arrangement as well).

Underwear and Socks

What You Say: “You’re so hard to shop for … I knew I couldn’t go wrong with these.”
What We Hear: “I’m tired of seeing Spiderman stare back at me every time you disrobe.”

Related: 32 Dysfunctional Candy Hearts For Your Dysfunctional Relationship
A Gift Certificate

What You Say: “Now you can get whatever you want!
What We Hear: “I have no idea what you want. Moreover, I’m too apathetic to even hazard a guess.”

One of those Homemade Coupon Books

What You Say: “Why get you one gift when I can give you one every day?
What We Hear: “Restrictions may apply.”

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