Present Time

Present Time

It's Christmas day. You and your man exchange gifts. You've found him a first edition of his favorite childhood book and had it autographed by the author by couriering it to an old-age home somewhere in the south of France and back again. You open your parcel and it's a box of chocolates. Not even Lindt, mind you.

Now imagine the same scenario reversed. He opens his Jay-Z CD and you unwrap a pair of diamond earrings.

In both these situations one of you has got the Gift Intensity For Time Together (GIFTT) ratio wrong. Picture a graph where the x-axis is how long you've been together and the y-axis is how expensive or meaningful a gift should be. The ideal line runs straight from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. So here's what to consider if you've been together.

0 to 3 months

Like old horses and Big Brother contestants, men freak out easily. So don't spend too much and don't mean too much. But do think - a little.

Choose something based on a shared joke or interest. This is the stage during which it's easiest to fall into the inappropriateness trap. You're in love, right? You adore him. So what would be wrong with going all out and getting him an iPad? A lot. That's what. We suggest a CD featuring a song you both like. Or some kind of novelty bar accessory, if he's that kind of guy. (In which case, don't you want to reconsider whether you really want to be with him longer than three months?)

3 to 6 months

This is when things start getting serious. Be thoughtful and get something special - but you don't yet want to relay the message 'I'm giving you this because I want a diamond ring on Valentine's Day.' At this stage, while you're settling into a new level of commitment, it's okay for your gift to him to be a bit less special than what he gives you. He'll feel all chivalrous and he won't panic at the idea that you might be more serious than him. We suggest a scent you know he likes or a DVD box set featuring his favorite actor.

A year to five years

You can begin to get a little practical - but make sure you stay stylish, at least until you've been married long enough to have produced half a dozen offspring.

We suggest a nice shirt or jacket. (If you don't know his size by now, you lose serious girlfriend points and should perhaps be buying him shares in Apple to make up for it.)

You could also try a watch (Fossil, not Patek Philippe) or sunglasses. Or consider a PlayStation or new wheels for his mountain bike.

Five years or longer

It's crucial to both your survival as a couple and your general coolness rating that you get something naughty. It provides a welcome break from dishes and not shaving your legs any more.
We suggest two sex toys - for him and for you - to use together. Or go for a wax and buy yourself some almost criminally indecent lingerie.

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