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The Perfect Present for a Woman

by Dear Jon
July 29, 2008

Dear Readers,

This actual reader mail comes from last week's interview of Dear Jon, and I promised I would turn it into an article.


Dear Jon,

Why are men typically so bad at picking out worthy gifts for their significant others?


Dear PO,

The bad news is that men are clueless dorks. The GOOD news is that the perfect gift book has come along, just in time, so that men can have a sure-fire gift that will be appreciated: The gift of laughter.

Yes, that is what The Dear Jon Letters: Tips on Dating and Mating is all about. Men, can you imagine a more perfect present? Its theme is romance, which tells the woman in your life that romance is a priority for you. Also, the heart-shapes on the double-barrels of the shotgun are bound to stir deep sentiments within the woman. Women dig pictures of hearts. Hearts make them feel warm and fuzzy.

To close the deal, there is a baby Cupid on the cover too, all floating and cute. Women dig babies. Babies make them feel warm and fuzzy.

These are your first instincts, and I support them, so hurry up and buy the book now. Do NOT listen to the voices of doubt, which are starting to kick up some neurons in your brain with statements like this:

  1. Will the woman in my life really appreciate a book with a shotgun on the cover, even if the barrels are heart-shaped?
  2. Will the woman in my life draw the conclusion that Dear Jon is actually hunting Cupid, and will that be more or less likely to turn her on? (That is not the point of the cover, by the way. Dear Jon is trying to HELP Cupid with an up-to-date delivery system for romantic feeling. Cupid's bow with heart-shaped arrows is SOO late Bronze Age.)
  3. Will the woman in my life think that I think that SHE needs "tips on dating," so that by buying this book I am sending a message that I am not happy with how she keeps up her end of our relationship?

If a man entertains doubts beyond his first instinct, he runs the risk of entering into a feed-back loop where his thoughts wander in endless circles.

Buy the book -- but what if she hates the shotgun -- She won't hate the  shotgun because it has hearts on it -- But it looks like the gunman is hunting Cupid -- He's not hunting Cupid! -- But if I buy the book she'll think I think she needs tips on dating -- Not if you buy Dear Jon's book which is FUNNY and shouldn't be taken seriously by anybody so Buy the book ---

This feed-back loop shuts down the male brain. Then the man ends up not buying the book, or anything else, because he has not broken the spiral of self-doubt.

Actually, ladies, this will come as a surprise to you, but most men think about buying presents for the woman in their life long in advance of the deadline, whether that deadline is Christmas Day or her birthday or an anniversary. Being task-oriented and hoping to be efficient, many men hope to resolve such errands a month or even two in advance. So they combine a haircut and an oil change with a trip to the mall, weeks ahead of the woman's birthday so she doesn't suspect anything, and then the man is assaulted by a thousand demands on his attention.

"Buy ME" says the sweater. "But what if she doesn't like the color?" "No, Buy ME!" says the basket of expensive bath soaps. "But what if she doesn't like the scents?"

This type of feed-back loop overwhelms the typical male. After a WHOLE HOUR of searching fruitlessly through the mall, he slinks back to his car, dejected and defeated. Not only does he not have a present for the woman in his life, but 62 minutes have gone down the drain.

It is true that after that kind of discouragement, the deadline does sneak up on the man. Holy cow, is it her birthday tomorrow? Please read carefully, females: This does NOT mean that the man in your life has forgotten your birthday. He has reflected on it, painfully, investing all kinds of emotional energy into the feed-back loop of self-doubt, until he exhausted himself. With all of that effort, it seems like he should have more time to successfully conclude an actual gift purchase. Alas, in this cruel world he does not.

So he stops at the florist on the way home from work. It has become really handy that they put floral shops in grocery stores now. Happy birthday, whoop-dee-doo, flowers again.

It's pathetic. Men know it. But we live in fear. Too many of us early in our relationships or marriages have bought something we knew we wanted HER to wear, only to have HER scowl at it. "You want to see me in this? You're a (one of the following: Jerk, Pervert, Freak, Weirdo, Boor, Cheapskate!)". So then we tried buying something we thought our wives would want to wear, and that has invariably provoked laughter. This strips the male ego of all defenses and batters it to oblivion, leaving only the paralysis of self-doubt.

The problem is the feed-back loop. If males go with their first instincts, then their shopping errands will be achieved much more quickly, and all they have to do to show that they are sensitive is present the gift receipt in the package.

By the way, Dear Jon follows a strict No Returns Policy If she hates the book, read Tips on Dating and Mating yourself. You might learn something.

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