Am I cheap?

Me arm wrestling myself every time I spend money.

In college, I dated a material girl.

It’s not that she was attached to things, per se; she had no difficulty letting go. But every holiday, birthday, monthiversary, anniversary, dead cat observance day, it was nearly expected I would get her something. And plans for dinner were a must, no exceptions.

I can’t live like that.

It’s no secret among my family members that I don’t like giving or receiving gifts. It’s awkward, archaic, and damn-near annoying. Do you know why?

First, you have to find something you HOPE TO GOD she will like. How embarrassing would it be to buy someone diamond earrings, only to find out her mother died in the blood diamond trade? (By the way, you should never, ever, ever get an engagement ring. Ever.)

Ok, so now you have these shitty blood diamond earrings (and guess what, you paid WAY more than you should have). When you give the gift, she says “Oh, thank you so much, I love them!” But you can tell by her beady little eyes and her half-forced, wet noodle smile it’s quite the opposite. (Because, you know, her mother died. (She’ll tell you that later.))

Fast forward 6 months, and do you know where those diamond earrings are? In the garbage. In storage. Sold to the highest bidder.

Ok, so this example is extreme, but its message rings true. I’m sure 90% of gifts are donated or forgotten after 6 months.

Now, back to my girlfriend.

She did not know my minimalist credence. Hell, even I didn’t know it, back then. My thought process was probably along the lines of, “Oh, me have girlfriend! Me must buy gift or girlfriend get mad. Me no like mad girlfriend.” I mean, relationships are contingent on gifts, right? (sarcasm)

So I about had enough of that (the expensive dinners, too). And when I stopped the gift giving ritual, she had the nerve to call me “cheap.”

Wow.

Am I cheap? Are material gifts really the currency in Hell? Are expensive dinners a poisoned time bomb? Are my undies too tight?

No. Yes. Yes. Feel free to check.

The problem is not me. The problem is not even her. The problem was our expectations.

To her, affection meant receiving gifts and eating nice dinners. To me, that shade of affection feels plastic and superficial.

Although I was not immersed in my minimalist journey at the time, I still knew that excessive possessions and rigid relationships weren’t for me. I was in the process of realizing I want real, organic, unconditional, and nurturing love.

In my eyes, she was bound by material love, tied by gift expectancy, and shackled by unwavering conditions. Me? I’m unburdened of the unneeded, unhindered by stipulations, and unpossessed by the word “greed.”

I may not give gifts, but that doesn’t negate my affection for you. I may not enjoy receiving gifts, but I enjoy your company. You may even call me cheap, but to that I say:

I’m not cheap, I’m free.