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Best Stories About The Worst Gifts Girlfriends Received From Boyfriends

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's switch gears. Christmas is almost here, so we've got a few stories of the season for you. And, if you're still doing some last-minute shopping, keep this in mind. Sometimes, gifts are memorable for all the wrong reasons. Lisa Bonos writes The Washington Post Relationships blog. She's been collecting stories of the worst gifts people have been receiving from their significant others. And she's with us now in our studios here in Washington, D.C. Lisa Bonos, welcome.

LISA BONOS: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: OK. So you asked your readers to tell you their stories. You got some doozies. What was the best worst gift story you came across?

BONOS: Well, this woman told me a story of how a man once presented her with a jewelry box, and inside was a sonogram of his ex-girlfriend's pregnant uterus.

MARTIN: And what did he expect her to do with this?

BONOS: I don't know. Maybe - she thought that maybe he thought the child was going to be in their life, and this is, maybe, a gift to her, too. But, really, it was just his way of telling her that he was going to be fathering a child with someone else.

MARTIN: OK. Epic fail. I think...

BONOS: Yes.

MARTIN: OK. Can I ask what happened in that relationship?

BONOS: They broke up.

MARTIN: Yeah. Surprising. What's another story that you can tell us?

BONOS: Another woman told me about receiving a video game from her boyfriend, and she wasn't a gamer.

MARTIN: So, basically, he gave himself a gift.

BONOS: Exactly. She did get really good at the game and beat it. And, years later, they were long-distance. And he gave her an electric can opener. Very practical, which, like a lot of gifts, can be practical...

MARTIN: (Laughter).

BONOS: ...But she doesn't cook. And she said she never used it.

MARTIN: One of the things I liked about your piece is that you explain why gift-giving tends to be so fraught. Why is it, like, such a thing?

BONOS: I think, sometimes, when couples are still getting to know each other, they take that gift as, like, a proxy for how deep someone's feelings are, how much you mean to them and kind of also how much the other person is paying attention to you. What do you like to do? What are your interests?

MARTIN: Is it possible that somebody could be very thoughtful, but they express it in terms of, like, everyday kindnesses, like always having the coffee made...

BONOS: For sure.

MARTIN: ...As opposed to buying something, you know?

BONOS: One thing that a lot of these matchmakers and relationship experts mentioned to me was that love languages can come into play. Do you know about the five love languages?

MARTIN: Tell us about that. Yeah, talk about that...

BONOS: So there are acts of service, words of affirmation, gift-giving can be one way that people show love, physical touch and quality time. Let's say my love language is quality time, and I also love words of affirmation, right? So I might really appreciate it if someone wrote me a poem or took me out on a daylong journey rather than a gift. And so, sometimes, I think gift givers don't always know, what is my recipient's love language?

MARTIN: And I'm dying to know what happened with the electric can opener.

BONOS: It sat in her kitchen for a long time. And then, her husband got it in the divorce.

MARTIN: Ouch. That's Lisa Bonos. She writes the Relationships blog for The Washington Post and writes other articles about relationships. Thanks so much for joining us.

BONOS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.