Compulsive shopping – giving without love

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Copyright © Eva Lombardi, 2013

I once dated a compulsive gift giver. I have to admit that, at the beginning, I liked being spoiled. But I soon realized there was a problem. And I didn’t know how to deal with it. The gift giver seemed so in need of approval that I didn’t dare say how I felt about the vast majority of the stuff he bought. He seemed to give it with love, and I loved him very deeply. So it just didn’t seem appropriate to tell him my feelings about most of the stuff he gave me. To make matters worse, he claimed to be a devout Christian. He said it was his “mission” to give.

I pretended to like it. No, I even compelled myself to like it. Because, as I say, deep down he was a beautiful person and I really did love him. Who cares, I thought, if his tastes are a bit different from mine? I can live with “made in China” factory replicas scattered all over the house. And a gift is a gift is a gift, I would tell myself.

I don’t know if it always happens in situations like this, but I got a bit infected with the shopping bug myself. I started buying and giving cheap stuff too. Nothing like him. But it did rub off a bit. Meanwhile, he kept on with his onslaught of shopping and giving. After a few years I got maxed out, uncomfortable, but still felt I had to pretend to like what the “holy giver” decided to buy and give.

English: I took this picture myself.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Soon after, the holy giver dumped me. He didn’t even have the decency to do it in person. No, the holy giver dumped me over the internet. And just a few weeks before that terrible day he gave me two full bags of stuff for Valentines Day. My head didn’t know he was going ditch me but my heart was trying to tell me. It felt so terribly empty and wrong, opening those Valentine’s gifts. I could sense the absence of love in stark contrast to the two bags of stuff he’d given. One of the gifts felt like a mockery of who I am and what we once shared.

The Valentines Day card that came with the bags said he loved me. I thought, “Well, I guess he loves me, it says so right here…” You see, he’d been cold and sullen toward the end, and making excuses for not getting together. Looking back, the words in the Valentines card were more like something a 12 or 13 year-old-would write. Like someone in love with their own writing instead of loving a real person.

Now I see it was a sham. The gift giving was more about his being in control, along with the temporary thrill he got from buying and giving. It had little to do with real love or some kind of holy mission. I was just an object to justify his compulsive shopping and giving.

Image via Tumblr

Even after he dumped me he threw in more new stuff when returning my belongings. And strangely enough, he told me how carefully he’d packed all my things so they wouldn’t get damaged! Right… my things. What about the heart ripped to pieces?

I don’t know about others, but whenever I’m betrayed, I’m dumfounded for a while and don’t see things too straight. If I really liked or loved the betrayer I see from their angle for a while. I imagine it’s a temporary coping mechanism. I initially deny that I’ve been betrayed. I want to believe that the emotions and trust I invested in that person weren’t all in vain. But over time I pull back and get a better perspective.

Now I see it clearly. No real love, support or adult concern for my hopes, dreams and feelings. But lots of compulsive shopping and giving, along with countless greeting cards, each expressing flowery sentiments that, in the end, proved to be a joke. A sad joke.

But it’s not all bad. On the plus side, I’m a whole lot wiser. Hopefully my next partner will be happy to share real love, and not just a steady stream of things.


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