He’s Never Bought Me Flowers
article by Meredith McKinnie
It’s been two years and eight months since we first met. And in that time, not so much as a petal. No roses for Valentine’s Day, no lilies on my birthday, no convenient camellias picked from my Mom’s garden just because, no sliding the stem behind my ear for affect…nothing. This should bother me, right? Girls get flowers; they’re pretty; they make us feel special. It shows everyone else how much he loves me. And though we say we don’t care, we do. No one wants to be the one girl at the office who doesn’t get a bouquet at the end of February. But last year, that was me.
Years ago, in my last serious relationship, I received flowers all the time, dozens of bright, red roses. I told myself that he chose those because red was my favorite color, not because it was the most typical and readily available. I relished those roses. I needed those roses. That was his love language. But the roses became predictable, no variety, as if no thought went into the gift, just autopilot, like his coffee he picked up every morning. I began to resent the roses. He sensed my displeasure and went from one dozen to three, and thus more resentment.
As the relationship grew stale, and the dozens continued to grow, I noticed a trend. The worse he screwed up, the bigger the bouquet. The more he hurt me, the more blood red roses I would get. The last monstrosity of a bouquet I received got me thinking, “What did he do this time?” And after a charge even bigger than usual on the bank statement, I got curious. So pretending to be his secretary, I called the flower shop. Apparently there were two orders, sent to two addresses, and that’s when I knew. The flowers weren’t his love language; they were his guilt gifts. I never told him I called. I didn’t have to. The relationship was disintegrating. It had run its course and it had run me ragged.
I had mistaken the flowers for affection. A show of emotion does not equate a depth of emotion. Perhaps he loved me as much as he could. Perhaps he wasn’t capable of love at all. Perhaps he’s never learned to love himself. But I was tired of guessing and accepting flowers as a substitute for the love I wasn’t getting, the respect I deserved.
So instead of flowers, I now have fireworks. Instead of vases, I have stability. Instead of petals, I’m met with patience. And this man, this man without flowers, gives me more than a guilt gift, or a show or a fake, repetitive gesture. He gives me his time, his affection, his kindness. He looked across the living room the other day, when I was in a stained T-shirt and gym shorts from ten years ago, not a swipe of makeup on my face and he just stared at me. He simply said, “You’re so cute.” And while it was a small gesture, and no one at the office saw it, it beat the mess out of some flowers. If he never buys me a single stem, that’s just fine with me.