The Best Gift To Give Your Date

Don’t treat your sweetie to that luxe piece of jewelry or snazzy iPod just yet. A new study reveals a wiser option, especially for new lovebirds.

By Riki Markowitz

ome this holiday season, want to give your one-and-only a gift that'll spread joy and reflect quite well on you? Then avoid that fancy Kate Spade bag or nifty iPod nano your sweetie’s been pining for. No, the best gift you can give is something far less material: your time. That may sound romantic, but according to a new study, there’s also a
The most crucial time to test for materialistic tendencies? During the early stages of a relationship.
practical reason that dinners, theater tickets, or spa-treatments-for-two are wiser bets. In short, they’ll help you figure out if the object of your affections truly likes you—or is merely interested in, well, the stuff you’ll be lavishing on them over the holidays.

Sound harsh? Researcher Peter Sozou, from University College London, created mathematical models suggesting this is nonetheless the case. “It's in your interest to offer gifts that don't have a high residual economic value to filter out people who are only interested in the gifts without regard to your desirability as a partner,” he says, adding that he began studying this area after reading about a man in the local newspaper who’d been helping pay the rent for a woman he was seeing but eventually discovered she was cheating on him. “Had he not been paying her rent but instead been treating her to outings and expensive dinners, it's unlikely that things would have gone on for so long,” points out Sozou.

Don’t worry, not all dates need to be tested for materialistic tendencies. The most crucial time, says Sozou, is during the early stages of a relationship. “As the relationship develops and the couple becomes an item, the need for these gifts of time goes down,” he says. So, if you’re comfortably committed, don’t sweat it if your mate begs you for a digital camera instead of a weekend trip to Cancun.

Riki Markowitz is a writer living in Brooklyn. The best gift she’s ever received from a guy was a prix fixe dinner at the luxe restaurant Jean Georges.
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Would you buy someone a holiday gift that you've been dating for less than 6 months?

Yes, if I want the relationship to continue

Maybe, but only to avoid seeming rude

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