smart spending

15 Valentine's Day heartbreaker gifts

Woman ripping paper heart in half
  • "There are more fights and breakups on this day than any other day."
  • If it's not a mutual love, don't fork out $300 or more for a spa treatment or a weekend away.
  • For expensive jewelry, make sure the recipient has specifically commented on it.

They say it's the thought that counts, but buyers beware: Valentine's Day is not so much about giving a gift as it is about giving the right gift.

This year, with everyone watching their budgets, the right gift will be harder to choose. And retailers' lists for gifts to win your honey's heart are as plentiful as arrows in Cupid's quiver.

But before you hastily fire off any one of them, make sure it's not a poison arrow.

"There are more fights and breakups on this day than any other day. Expectations are high. Everyone is looking for confirmation of the level and amount of love (felt toward them)," says Nancy D. O'Reilly, a clinical psychologist and founder of the WomenSpeak Project, which educates and supports women in the experience of growing older.

Even a seemingly harmless, traditional gift can backfire. No matter what stage your relationship is in, you should think twice before picking any of these 15 not-so-sweet gifts this Valentine's Day.

New relationship no-nos

Going over the top: If it's not a mutual love, don't fork out $300 or more for a spa treatment or a weekend away, says etiquette expert Colleen A. Rickenbacher. You could end up being ancient history before the mud pack dries on her face.

Leaping for love: Avoid gifts that suggest a leap in couple-dom. Opening up a couples massage certificate or something like an appliance -- that suggests too much of a relationship fast-forward -- is a definite no-no, O'Reilly says.


Feeding your passion: Psychotherapist and family-relationship therapist Stacy Kaiser recalls a man who loved cherry pie. He thought its red color would make it an ideal Valentine's Day gift. His date was offended by his choosing something he liked rather than asking for her preferences. But that wasn't the only problem, Kaiser says, "She was allergic to cherries!"

Love in bloom: Flowers at work may be a nice gesture, but being on the receiving end can be overwhelming and embarrassing. "Fight the urge to buy him flowers at work, along with 1,400 balloons," O'Reilly says to women. And for men, sending a "boatload of flowers" can be too much, especially for a woman who doesn't like being the center of attention.

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