How to respond to a Valentine's Day gift you don't want, according to a relationship expert

Top 3 techniques for minimal hurt feelings

Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and one of the challenges of the day is figuring out what to buy your partner to celebrate. Another challenge, potentially, is reacting to a wildly misjudged Valentine's Day gift from your other half, in a way that won't lead to the dramatic breakdown of the relationship. That's the worst case scenario, of course – you'll probably just be facing hurt feeling or a short sulk. Still, best avoided if at all possible.

T3 spoke to James Thomas, relationship expert at, about how to respond to a Valentine's Day gift that you don't want / need / like, in a way that doesn't upset your presumably well-meaning other half. Read on for his top tips.

And if you're still stuck on what to buy your partner, here are some flower delivery services that won't let you down (safe option), or you can shop the Lovehoney 50% off Valentine's Day sale (slightly more adventurous), or check out a range of cool letterbox gifts if you can't see your other half if person on the day.

#1. Try and be grateful anyway

To avoid really hurting your partner's feelings, if possible you want to avoid showing outright horror in your face. So if you suspect they'll get it a bit wrong, it might help to remind yourself of their good intentions before you open your gift. "No matter what it is, they have taken the time to think of you and make an effort to make you smile on this special day," says James. "Unfortunately, they’ve got it wrong, but you need to remember it wasn’t intentional." Be mindful of not just your words, but your body language and facial expressions, too: "Be sure to smile and give them a kiss of appreciation."

#2. Ask questions

Another good tactic is to respond by asking some questions. This has the dual benefit of buying you time to react, and figuring out the reasoning behind the choice. "If you receive something you never wanted or expected, you should take the time to ask questions," says James. "By turning the attention onto them, the pressure is off you to react quickly and irrationally. Hearing the story and intention behind the gift might answer your own questions and help you to see the sweet side of the purchase."

#3. Be honest

Even if there was a thoughtful intention behind your gift, you don't want to overdo the fake enthusiasm or chances are you'll end up with an equally weird present next year. James insists that you still show your gratitude whilst being at least somewhat honest. "This doesn’t have to be delivered in a negative way, but in a way that will help them in the future. Something along the lines of ‘I wouldn’t have picked this myself but…’, will tell them that it wasn’t your ideal present, but you are still grateful to receive something," he says. "If you overdo a lie on how much you love it, expect the same thing to happen on each seasonal occasion!"

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).