Hi Papa Bear,
I'm in a relationship with a wonderful guy who I love deeply but find some of his indirect actions hurtful and upsetting, and one has been bothering me a lot lately, though I wonder if I am taking it harder than I should.
We have been together for almost a year, but he has never gotten any commissioned art (or any kind of gift) for me, not even for special occasions, but continues to purchase art of him and his roommate in non-intimate scenes and has even asked me permission to get some adult themed art with another. I had mentioned before about 6 months into our relationship that it bothered me that he chose to get art of others instead of me, even though I always depict myself with him as first choice and have gotten many of us, but the situation has not changed and he continues to spend a lot of money on art of him and others. My friends think its a really bad sign.
Am I taking it to hard? What should I do? He's currently on deployment and won't be back for at least 6 more months, so a face-to-face is impossible and our communication is from periodic messages over social media.
Thanks for your time.
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Papabear would tend to agree with your friends. Not only because he has not gotten a commission for you even though he has done so for others, but even more so because he apparently hasn’t gotten you ANY kind of gift even though it has been about a year. No birthday gift? No holiday gift? Valentine? Christmas? Nothing?
While I’m not big on material things, one can express his or her love for another in ways that are thoughtful and not expensive, such as a handmade present of some sort. For example (and I don’t mean this to brag, but it still touches my heart), my mate, for my last birthday, got a friend of his who knows about old radios to put new tubes into my grandparents’ 1930s-era radio so that it once more could play music after decades of being a paperweight. He surprised me with it on my birthday morning. His friend fixed it for him as a favor and it didn’t cost him anything, but to me it was worth a million bucks because it was so thoughtful.
Now, if your boyfriend were not the type to get gifts at all, even for his family or other friends, I wouldn’t be worried because he is just not the gift-giving type. That’s okay. But what we have here is his consideration and thoughtfulness for others and a complete lack of thoughtfulness for you in this regard.
Unless you are leaving something out? There is this possibility: does he do thoughtful acts for you that he wouldn’t do for others? Such as making you your favorite meal for dinner? Pampering you with a foot massage? Leaving you love notes? If he does stuff like that, then I wouldn’t worry about gifts. It could be that he has a separate standard for people he loves, and that standard is the gift of thoughtful acts while purchases of things like art commissions is for his second-tier friends. You say he's a "wonderful guy," so I would thing that he does thing for you that have made you form that opinion, no?
If that is not true and he gives you absolutely nothing, then it is really time to have a serious discussion with him. DO NOT do so online. Such things must be discussed face-to-face, so wait until he gets back from his military duties. When he does, you need to tell him that he makes you feel unloved and you seriously wonder if the two of you should be together.
Don’t ask for gifts at this point, because there is a problem with asking for his consideration. What if he agrees and starts buying you gifts? Is he doing so because he has genuinely seen the light? Or is he just doing it to shut you up? You should not have to ask for gifts because then they are not really gifts; they become obligations. Besides, you have already asked once to no avail.
Therefore, I would recommend that when he comes home you tell him that you think the two of you need a break from your relationship (wait a couple days after his return, though; it would be unkind to hit him with this immediately after over 6 months of duty to his country). Tell him you love him, but you don’t really feel that he loves you as much. Don’t tell him it’s because of the gift thing. If he has any brains at all, he’ll figure it out. Back off, and see if he comes back for you. If he doesn’t, he obviously doesn’t care much. If he does, then hopefully he’ll have gained a new appreciation for your love and respect it as he should.
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