Ask Brian: My boyfriend got me a kettle and teabags for Christmas

I am utterly furious.

My boyfriend decided that a good present to get his girlfriend of four years was a kettle with some Lyons tea bags (I drink Barry’s).

We decided early in November that we would set a €50 limit on presents for each other this year, we’re renting and trying to save a deposit for a mortgage.

I did think he might push the boat out and spend a bit more, it’s Christmas after all. I’m not saying I expected him to spend thousands, but maybe a few hundred at least.

Well I came down on Christmas morning to see one solitary wrapped box under the tree.

I was a bit shocked, but there had been this pair of Louboutins that I’d sent him a link to a few weeks ago so got excited thinking he must have splurged on them.

No, it was a bloody kettle. Our one has been on the blink. I could feel the tears forming and fury rising in my stomach.

He approached me from behind with another smaller wrapped box. Maybe this is my real present I was thinking. Tea bags. Not even the right brand, they were Lyons and he should know I always buy Barry’s.

I completely flipped out. He looked shocked and really taken aback and started blabbering on about how we had agreed the limit bla bla bla.

I didn’t speak to him again until that evening and agreed to put it behind us.

But I can’t stop thinking about it. Do I really want to spend my life and take out a mortgage with someone who can be so bloody stupid?


Brian replies:

To start by stating the obvious – you did both agree to the €50 budget.

You secretly hoped he’d go mad and exceed it greatly when, and in a not totally unforeseeable development to be fair, he stuck to the budget.

I re-watched Titanic over Christmas, and one of the famous lines in it is that a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets. Well in that case, a man’s is a shallow paddling pool with a leak.

He took what you said at face value; you spent the last six weeks wondering how he’d elaborately impress you.

You said apples; he got you apples – and not the expensive collection of exotic fruits you were hoping he’d read your mind and buy.

Now look, I think we can both agree that even within the €50 limit a kettle was a pretty crappy present – but practicality obviously outweighed sentimentality for him on this occasion.

Your anger is coming from the fact that he stuck to an agreement you had both made. If you’d wrote in upset that he’d got you a kettle I’d help you light the pyre and be all ‘burn the witch’ with you.

You can’t be upset that he kept an agreement with you – it sets a very bad precedent in your relationship.

Are you telling him it’s all right to break future agreements with you because you really didn’t expect he’d keep to it? “Have multiple affairs, our marriage vows were just for the lols.”

Yes, you probably regret making the deal with him – and yes, a kettle is a really terrible present in any event. 

I won’t even address the teabags issue. I mean it’s a terrible cherry on an awful cake, but the Barry’s versus Lyons debate is more divisive than the civil war and I don’t want to be trolled.

Chalk it down to experience and enjoy the new year festivities.



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Twitter: @Brian_O_Reilly

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