You be the judge: should my boyfriend show more appreciation for the gifts I gave him?

The prosecution: Lua

David says the table runner I bought for him in Nicaragua ‘hurts his eyes’

I brought back several gifts for my boyfriend David from recent trip around Central America, but I feel they were unappreciated. I got him a gorgeous pink, orange and blue table runner, handmade by women on a farm in Nicaragua.

I also got him some scented candles for our bedroom, a faded red leather backpack, a woven bracelet and two cushion covers from Costa Rica with a colourful bird print on them.

David is quite a simple man: he doesn’t do a lot of crazy colours, but he has had a visceral reaction to the table runner in our flat. He says it’s “a bit much” and suggested we put it in the study room instead of on our dining table. But it’s a table runner – the clue’s in the name – so I said no and put it on our table.

He’s made a few comments – he says it hurts his eyes and he can’t concentrate on his dinner. I told him to stop being so ridiculous, but I am a little hurt.

The bracelet I got him has also remained unworn. He says he’s grateful but it’s not really “his style”, so it seems that was a waste of money. I’ve seen him use the backpack, so I’m happy about that. When it comes to the cushion covers, David said they were “very interesting”, but in the same breath mentioned that we already have some and don’t need to change them. (And I do admit, the cushions’ pattern is overly vibrant).

I went away for four weeks on this solo travel trip and thought he’d be happy to get some funky gifts from Central America. Our flat needs an update too. We’ve been together for three years and I have slowly been working to make his clothing and decor tastes a little more adventurous.

David could show more interest in that, though. I’d love for him to come up with alternatives. He could even be a bit more vocal about why he doesn’t like something. I wouldn’t be offended, but he tends to avoid conflict and disagreements. He will slyly avoid saying what he really means, which is not super helpful.

The defence: David

It’s not that I hate the gifts, but I feel that Lua bought them for the flat, not for me

It’s not that I hated Lua’s presents, it’s just that I don’t think they are in keeping with my personal style, or what we’ve got going on in the flat.

The table runner Lua brought back from her travels was honestly really garish, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I just quietly moved it to the study after she presented it to me. She didn’t like that, and it soon returned to its original position.

However, it sort of raises the question: was the table runner a present for me, or for us? It seems Lua wanted to buy it for the flat, so I wasn’t going to have much of a say about its position either way.

The same goes for the cushion covers. Lua needs to admit that she saw them abroad and thought, “Oh, they will be lovely for the flat”, not, “This will make a nice gift.”

I’d actually be fine with putting the cushion covers on now – I concede they were a very thoughtful idea and definitely a step-up from our old, stained navy ones. I think I just needed to get used to the brightness of them.

Apart from the house stuff, I was very grateful for the backpack as my laptop fits it perfectly. It’s 100% my style, so that was a gift I loved. Even though it’s not something I’d usually wear, I’ll give the woven black bracelet a go because I love Lua and I want her to know I appreciate her.

I know she thinks I’m a bit passive when it comes to expressing how I feel, but I don’t want to offend her. I will just sort of avoid saying anything negative from now on because, for one thing, it’s really difficult to tell someone you don’t like something they have bought for you.

When it comes to the decor in our flat, it’s probably accurate to say that I am very averse to change. I like things to stay the same. However, I have reasoned that because I don’t suggest any alternatives, it’s fair enough for her to come in and change things without asking for my approval each and every time. I could be a bit more involved, I suppose.

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The jury of Guardian readers

Should David show more appreciation for the gifts Lua bought him?

Lua is using the idea that these are gifts as a way to justify purchasing them. If you buy someone something they don’t want or like, it’s an imposition. Perhaps next time Lua can find a gift that will bring him joy rather than something that she hopes can change him.
Thomas, 32

Lua is disingenuous suggesting that brightly coloured homewares were gifts for David. She bought impersonal items that she thought he should like, even though they weren’t to his taste. The backpack was a hit because it was aligned to his style. One thoughtful gift would have been enough.
Elaine, 51

David is willing to wear the bracelet, bless him. I imagine Lua wanted to share some of her solo trip with her partner – a lovely gesture. But most of her gifts weren’t even really for him. If they were, he’d get to choose where that garish table runner lives. Not guilty.
Carly, 37

Lua bought the gifts for herself, not David. But if he’s going to complain about how she decorates the flat, he needs to share an opinion in the first place.
Bryony, 25

Come on, Lua – no one buys cushion covers or a table runner for their live-in partner! The backpack was great but perhaps you should respect the fact that David has different tastes.
Joanne, 57

Now you be the judge

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Last week’s result

We asked whether Mona should give up the body art, as her mum wishes

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