The season of giving isn’t over yet with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Giving the perfect gift for your loved one can be stressful and lead you to think the worst – ending up alone on Feb. 14.

But don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Bakersfield psychologist Dr. Laurie Koenig said, “At least get a card and communicate your feelings the best way that you can about your appreciation to your partner.”

Gift giving can be disastrous. If you’re not sure what to get someone, something homemade often adds value and sentiment to the gesture. Koenig said that “feelings of social inadequacy, self-doubt and fear of letting your loved ones down” go through a person’s mind when they fear their gift won’t be a successful one.

Overthinking the perfect gift for that special someone in your life can be its own pitfall.

“A gift given from the heart out of love and respect for the other individual is healthy and rewarding,” Koenig said.

Koenig suggests steering clear of money as a gift, as it can come off cold.

“Money is not what makes a gift special, but it is the actual expression of gratitude for the relationship,” Koenig said.

But if the jitters still aren’t going away, Koenig said that to cope with the anxiety with gift giving, remind yourself that “a lasting relationship will have friendship as one of its most important features.”

“Friends talk openly, listen and try to understand the needs of other,” she said. “Ask for help from others who could give you a clue as what might be meaningful for the individual.”

Gift-giving doesn’t have to be a two-way street. If you accept your fate as a bad gift-giver, asking the individual themselves shows that you care and are willing to listen to them.

“Don’t ask what your loved one wants and ignore their wishes,” Koenig said.

But above all: Don’t sweat the small things. With gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Above all, it’s a way to show that you love and appreciate your loved one. 

Laurie Koenig is a clinical psychologist who has practiced in Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Davis. Her work has encompassed individuals, families and couples.

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