Appropriate birthday present for new GF

I’ve been dating this woman for a month or two, and it’s a pretty good relationship, outside of I’m more into her than she is into me and we both acknowledge this. She has specifically noted that it is NOT a LT term, committed relationship where we share each other’s lives completely, but very specifically that we are only “dating” (seeing each other for dinner, movies, sex once or twice per week) and we are sexually monogamous. Oh, and also I may introduce her to people as my “girlfriend.” (Which is a strange word, anyway, because we’re both in our fifties.) Long story short, she’s still going through a divorce and is fairly unavailable emotionally, to me, anyway, and I’ve accepted this condition because I’m pretty crazy about her. (if you want the LSL, see my “Broken Heart–PRR-style” thread in IMHO about a month ago, in which she broke up with me abruptly, and then reversed fields ten days afterward–the breakup had to do with my being too into her.)

Anyway, some of the stuff that’s freaked her out has to do with long-range planning (I’ve speculated about trips we might take someday, to Europe and the like, which had the undesired effect of making her feel trapped in my fantasy world) BUT she has a birthday coming up in less than a month and I have no clue what’s appropriate, given her skittishness. Normally (everytime I’ve been insane about a woman, in fact) I just buy her a slightly inappropriately expensive birthday gift, which often advances the relationship somewhat in a good way, but this situation has me stumped.

She has agreed (everything in this relationship is a bit of a negotiation, though I’m hoping this tapers off as we get used to each other) to be taken out to dinner on her birthday (a nice steakhouse is what I have in mind) but I think I need to get her something else as well. (I’ve also offered to take her somewhere overnight --I suggested a trip involving a plane-ride and a motel on some beach, but she said that was way too much, plus which we haven’t literally slept together yet and she’s still trying to figure out if she’s ready to spend the night and wake up with me.) So my question is

  1. nice steak dinner and nothing else?

  2. nice steak dinner and a set of earrings? (she likes earrings)

  3. nice steak dinner and something more mundane and domestic? (she’s admired my water-filter system but says it’s too expensive for her budget–it costs under 25 dollars! Also she needs kitchen stuff, like spatulas, tongs, etc.)

  4. nice steak dinner and something of your own choice and experience that is neither as intimate as jewelry nor as emotionally neutral as a water-filter or spatulas?

Finally, she’s considering a one-night, local (no plane travel) overnight, so that’s my choice if she’ll agree, but if she rules that out as too much, what’s an appropriate gift in these circumstances?

Dinner and flowers. I wouldn’t buy her anything ‘permanent’ if you are trying to avoid freaking her out - but it’s nice to acknowledge the day. Alternatively, a fun experience before/after the dinner.

I like the earrings idea. It’s a nice gift, but not TOO intimate - you’d just be adding another pair of earrings to her collection. If you manage to pick out a pair she likes, it’ll show her that you know a little something about her - but again, not anything too intimate.

“Fun experience”? Does “fun” = “naked and horizontal”?

Just FYI, some girls find “naked and horizontal” to get a little old after a while. Naked and vertical might be a nice variation.

But no, I don’t think that either of those things is what Girl from Mars meant by “fun.”

Earrings. Use your artist eye and the info you’ve gathered from your obsessive observation of her to find a pair she’ll really, really like – not expensive gemstones, probably, but handcrafted in whatever style (funky, delicate, moderne) she prefers.

Even if she needs mundane stuff, it’ll piss her off if you get it for her.

I’m with twicky here. Earrings, but make sure they are not expensive, or anything that would qualify as real jewelry. This should be a light gift, a trifle to demonstrate that you know and appreciate her taste and this is your take on it. In my female experience, most of us like the idea that a man notices our appearance enough in non-sexual situations to enjoy contributing to it. The note should read something like “I thought these would look good on you and I hope you will too. Happy Birthday, PRR.”

If you’re gonna do it, I think steak and earrings is probably the way to go from a dating point of view.

However, she is still a married woman, going through a divorce, and committing adultery. In theory, that could bite her in the ass if the divorce gets messy. Caution and discretion are indicated.

I’d say steak dinner and a book or something non-committal. If she’s so skittish, the earrings might scare her- women tend to think that when men by them jewelry, it means something more significant. I’d go with book.

That’s why the earrings need to be obviously not expensive. Which is easy, because the most interesting earrings, IMHO, are not made with gems or precious metals.

I’d say no earrings … that’s something she’d feel she might have to wear whilst with you, if the relationship doesn’t go further then she may not want to wear them again, jewellery is quite a personal gift.

Book or water filter … and a normal dinner without any other attachments - if she’s skittish and you’re pushing a motel overnight etc … you’ll just make her run away! You probably want to portray to her that you can give normal non-emotional blackmail gifts and you wont push for more … then she might give you more.

A casual relationship = casual gift. I like dinner and flowers, that another poster suggested. CDs, books, etc are also good.

Ear rings and other jewelry can be “iffy” though. Some people (and I’m one) don’t mind jewelry but I want it real. I don’t see the point to wearing fakes stuff. Now that is just me, some people like it. So before you give her jewelry see what her opinion on it is.

The gift should be something she wants, and not in any way utilitarian. For example, no appliances or underwear.

I think you should hide the earrings in the steak, so they can be like a surprise! :wink:

Seriously though, I 2nd what everyone else has said so far. A casual pair of earrings would be nice, or even just flowers.

I’d go for something ephemeral. Flowers or chocolates are classics. Gift card to the local day spa. A lot of people (IME at least) can feel that strings are attached to more solid gifts.

I love how opinions vary so much on the Dope.

Earrings, earrings, earrings.

Flowers are too romantic (and a waste of money, in my opinion).

You can get earrings that don’t cost too much, but that presumably you know she’ll like. A woman who likes earrings can never have too many pairs of earrings.

If newly dating someone I’m not sure about, earrings would be my absolute number 1 choice of gift to receive.

No jewelry, including artsy earrings. She’s skittish, and fifty-ish…us fifty-ish girls were taught that any type of jewelry gift is for the serious relationships.

I suggest a book…or beter yet, a gift card to a bookstore.

Or my favorite divorce book…“Drunk,Divorced and Covered In Cat Hair”. If she likes knitting. It’s a very touching bookt

I’m fifty-three and I can’t conceive of artsy earrings making me uncomfortable. Gemstones or gold, yes. But inexpensive artsy earrings would just tell me that he’s actually paying attention to what I like, without obligating me because of high expense. To a person who “likes earrings,” giving her a pair is more like adding to a collection than it is “jewelry.” It’s comparable to giving someone who collects frogs an inexpensive china frog that you happened to run across at a flea market or some such.

But if she was really admiring the water filter and bemoaning her inability to purchase one due to lack of money, that would certainly do as well.

The important point here, PRR, is that it should be a token gift, $25 or less, but showing that you actually have taken note of what she likes, wants, or needs.