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Socks and sex: Getting the right gift on lovers’ day

By Nailantei Norari
Friday, February 12th, 2021
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Nailantei Norari @artnorari

There is no holiday that has been commercialised as much as Valentine’s Day.

This is probably the reason why social media is littered with pleas for the President to completely lockdown the country, with many people claiming to be nursing heartbreaks just before the said holiday as their partners seek to spare themselves the gifting expense this season.

What is interesting is that gifting occurs even in the animal kingdom, with male spiders wooing the lady long legs with balls of silk.

The one gifting the bigger token wins the lady’s affection even in the spider world. But what is the history of gifting and what are its psychological underpinnings?

History of gifts

Gifting is something that is quite common, especially in African culture. Apart from ceremonies such as births and marriages where gifts were expected to be exchanged, one could not visit their neighbour empty handed.

For those who believe in Darwinian theory of existence, cavemen used to gift each other.

While for Africans, it was a sign of goodwill and community, cavemen mostly used it as a tool to exert power and control or show pleasure and displeasure by gifting those who served the leader well and leaving out those who did not serve him well.

Maurice Matheka a leading psychologist and sexologist in Kenya, talks about the importance of understanding the cultural context of gifting as it forms part of the template that influences one’s giving or receiving of gifts.

“Other than the cultural template, there are psychological reasons behind the gifting process whether someone is crafting a whole experience around the gifting or simply giving a different pair of socks and different position during sex,” says Maurice.

He adds that gifts can be used to garner affection, show appreciation or even at times to assuage the guilt.

As much as it is said that it is the intention and not the gift that counts, both count in equal measure. 

He gives the example of guilt packages, where one may buy a gift to cover up tracks or to make themselves feel better after cheating or as an advance for wrongs to be done or things to be asked for.

In such cases, the person has deep seated psychological issues that they are not willing to work on but are instead putting gift band aids on a wound that requires intensive surgery. 

The same gift will be received differently by various people owing to the history between the giver and recipient, what it means to the former as well as what it means to the latter.

What might just be another pair of socks to one partner, might be the love gift of the century to an older couple who have been looking for thermal socks to no success.

Languages of love

Allan Lawrence agrees with this adding that there is no wrong and right gift.

“It is true that people use gifts to affirm and cement love while others weaponized gifts and use them as a tool of control.

But there is no right or wrong gift, as all humans are different individuals with varying wants and needs,’ says Allan.

He says that different people perceive love and affection differently. The key here is to communicate with your partner and be attentive to their needs or wants as this will help in deciding the best gift to give at what time and where.

Gifting if done correctly can strengthen the partnership or friendship of those involved.

And the great thing is you do not even have to break the bank to do it,” Allan explains.

He references Gary Chapman’s book The Five Languages Of Love namely; acts of service, quality time, physical touch, affirmation and gifting citing how gifting can be anything in the love language that your partner understands.

He talks of combining your partner’s dominant love languages and using that while choosing the gifts.

Maurice adds that there can be a wrong gift, especially that which is being used as a means to an end.

“Using sex as a gift for instance delinks the act from the mutual give and take it is and repositions it as something to be earned, given and withheld,” he says.

Sex is an experience that is easily sullied, and gifting it is a small step towards commercializing it and a big one towards totally ruining a relationship. It is not a power tool. 

He explains how this can be a dangerous spiral towards a detrimental end of a relationship, where one party withholds sex if aggrieved, and gifts it when they deem it fit.

Maurice reiterates on the importance of making gifting and appreciation an everyday thing and the importance of being adventurous in sex too so that some positions and experiences are not saved for a special occasion, but are part of everyday life. 

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