According to recent research, single people experience imbalances when it comes to giving and receiving gifts, and single women suffer even more. In spite of this "imbalance of time, effort and money," most are still keen to please their loved ones though they are well aware that they will not receive the same attention in return.
The pleasure of giving, the joy of receiving. Or not. The end of year celebrations often bring imbalances for single people. Not only can they expect inappropriate, even barbed reflections from family members regarding their situation when it comes to relationships, they are also rarely treated reciprocally when it comes to gifts. Is it a question of stinginess? Not at all, says social psychologist and expert on issues of single living Bella DePaulo in the American publication Psychology Today, but rather an "imbalance of time, effort and money,"
Because, during the Christmas season, singles will be expected to spend more on gifts than other family members. Bella DePaulo: “Imagine, for example, that you are a single adult with no children and you have three siblings, each of whom is married with two children. Maybe you would like to, or you feel obligated to, give gifts to each of your siblings, their partners, and their kids. That's four people per sibling (the sibling, the spouse, and the two kids), multiplied by three siblings, or 12 gifts. Perhaps in return, each sibling gives you a gift from their whole family."
This pattern being rather common, it may be that, using the example, couples each give a gift in their own name and not in the name of the family. But this pattern can also apply to parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and even half-siblings. Where does it all stop?
Single women suffer the most imbalances
And single women suffer the greatest weight of this imbalance as they earn about 20% less per month than men.
According to social scientists Michal Kravel-Tovi and Kinneret Lahad, many women are starting to complain about this one-sidedness in gift-giving.
In their study published on November 19, 2021 , the Tel Aviv University researchers analyzed various online sources collected from blogs, forums and radio shows.
They highlight the fact that many women are aware of giving gifts to their friends for events such as the birth of a child or a wedding ceremony, entailing significant expenses, but that these singles will probably never get the same attention in return due to their status.
Which makes for "complicated psychological dynamics," comments Bella DePaulo. Because, first of all, single women do not want to be perceived as frustrated due to this imbalance, but also, and above all, because many of them get real satisfaction from pleasing their entourage during a special event.
Is it possible to right this imbalance?
Some families are aware of the disparities in the ability to give gifts and make efforts to minimize the unfairness. From these financial arrangements emerge some more egalitarian practices, such as a Secret Santa system or the requirement to keep gift budgets low, for instance to less than 10 dollars.