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Couples split over bad gifts, poll finds

What are these breakup-worthy presents?

By Kristin Wong Nov 13, 2012 4:58PM

Isn't it the thought that counts?

Well, thoughtless or not, a significant number of couples actually split over bad gift giving, according to a new poll.

Photo: Westend61/Getty ImagesThe survey finds that one in six couples have had a full-blown fight over a bad gift, and what's more, one in 20 couples have actually broken up for the same reason.

Related: 50 signs he's not that into you

John Starr Gift Card and Voucher Week, an annual event in November, commissioned the study, which included more than 2,000 men and women. Starr says he found it's mostly men who get gifts wrong. He told MSN's The Heart Beat:

 “It can be a little insulting for women when the person they know best in life hasn’t got a clue what to get them."


But hey, it's not easy on guys, either:

"Even the most thoughtful of presents can be received with caution by women, who seem to assume that with every gift comes a hint."

Related: 20 'annoying' girl things he secretly loves about you

Bad gifting is nothing new, but the surprising statistic is that some couples actually split over poorly thought out presents.  I suppose if a relationship is liable to breakup over a present, the bond wasn't that strong to begin with. Or, maybe the gift was just that bad.

Starr also found that a whopping 80 percent of women think their partner genuinely tries but still gets the gift wrong. Conversely, 21 percent of men say their significant other doesn't get it right, either.

So what are these bad gifts that couples are receiving? Men complained that women have a tendency to buy them clothes and shoes they hate. Women, on the other hand, don't particularly appreciate sex toys or anti-aging products.

As the holidays close in on us, it's easy to get caught up in the materialism of gifting. But lovers, remember -- the greatest gifts are free. As Princess Diana once said: "I don't want expensive gifts … I just want someone to be there for me, to make me feel safe and secure." With that kind of support and love, who cares if you get an occasional bad gift?

But then again, Lady Di probably never got this.

At any rate, here are the top 10 gifts men get wrong, according to the study:

  1. Underwear
  2. Toiletries
  3. Perfume
  4. Kitchen utensils
  5. Cheap jewelry
  6. Chocolates
  7. Shoes or slippers
  8. Vacuum cleaner
  9. Flowers
  10. Exercise clothes or DVD

And the top 10 gifts women get wrong:

  1. Clothes
  2. Cheap gadgets
  3. A man bag
  4. Soft toys
  5. Shoes
  6. Jewelry
  7. Chocolates
  8. A meal out
  9. Aftershave
  10. A framed photo

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

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Bing: Get gift ideas for your boyfriend.

More Sex & Love on MSN Living:

How to determine if he's marriage material
10 habits that keep marriages strong
Marriage counselors: The trickiest issues we've ever solved
50 unique engagement rings

Nov 15, 2012 10:45PM

Guys are easy to buy gifts for... just ask us what we want and we'll be excited to tell you! and bonus: it'll still be a surprise to open because we don't remember anything :^o


Women have trouble receiving gifts sometimes because guys don't "get" all their hints, then when we get it wrong, they psychologically discect the meaning behind the item being given.  The meaning they decipher is the one that makes the worst assumptions about the giver and they're usually waaaaay off and probably just being too sensitive. Or who knows... maybe it's just simply a crappy gift sometimes.


humans are weird.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Nov 15, 2012 9:34PM
One year, my ex asked what I wanted and I told him I wanted a nice fleece throw blanket - any color besides orange because I hate that color. He heard "orange" and ignored everything else I said. So, I got an orange fleece blanket. I dumped him not long after because he never listened to me.
I don't think people break up because of bad gifts. They break up because their partner doesn't take the time to listen or actually care about what they think.

Nov 15, 2012 9:09PM
One Christmas my husband wrapped up curtain rods! When I garped he called me a name and said he wanted to give me something BIG. We lived in an apartment that had window shades. Next year he gave me a computer stand for HIS computer. He has also given me jewlery - usually the kind that turned my skin green or gave me a rash - one time the chain was so short on a necklace it was CLEARLY meant for a child. Once he gave me a marble slab for the window sill in the bathroom he was remodeling. He has also given me a huge mason jar filled with candy and kitchen utensils and once he gave me two cutting boards which he wrapped in huge boxes. I started crying. I thought he had given me a litter box so I could get the cat I'd been asking for. Needless to say - I have NO gift expectations from him at all. MOST of the time we just agree not to exchange gifts - though the kids still want me to get him "something from them". Yet he never gets ME something from the kids.
Nov 15, 2012 8:22PM
My ex got me a industrial size box of reese cups one Christmas. AFTER complaining to me that I needed to lose some weight. REALLY? He really did try for the most part. And even now I laugh at the reese cups incident.
Nov 15, 2012 7:43PM

My late F-I-L called me upstairs during our Christmas celebration one year. He handed me a new broom and told me to "wrap it so it doesn't look like a broom" and then"sneak it downstairs and put it under the tree for (our  poor hard working) Mom". Cringe, hell, I almost threw up! I substituted a $50 gift card and ditched the broom.  She was delighted and he looked confused, then disappointed then annoyed (which didn't ruin my celebration, by any means). To this day I don't know if he was cruel or just stupid.


Thank God his son is NOTHING like him!                             (RIP you old fart.)

Nov 15, 2012 7:23PM
For mothers day a few years ago my husband got me an ironing board and iron.  I laughed pretty good at that one, and still use the dry cleaners.  We buy whatever we want or need all year long so I tell him not to get me anything and we will just buy 1 big joint gift that we can both use.
Nov 15, 2012 7:02PM
I once got a pink trash can for my bedroom (which was actually peach). Another guy gave me a dusty old teddy bear of his from 15 years before. It had been in his garage all those years. (It was Valentine's Day and my birthday.) Years later, on another Feb. 14, I got a box of chocolates from my then-boyfriend, who confessed he took a test drive to get the chocolates! Aside from my astonishing bad taste in men, I learned that you have to be able to receive gifts gracefully, if that makes sense; you do it without expectations. Also, give in a spirit of generosity and not as a way to control others by getting them what you think they should have or an expensive item that will bind them to you or otherwise obligate them. By the way, Guys 2 and 3 were a bad match; Guy 1 was a keeper. I wasn't actually offended by the gift, just surprised by its color.
Nov 15, 2012 6:35PM
Then they shouldn't have been together to begin with.
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