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0:00:00.2 Xio Axelrod: Relationship on the rocks?


0:00:02.6 Avery Flynn: Crushing on your best friend?


0:00:04.8 Roan Parrish: Not sure how to tell your partner a secret?


0:00:07.8 AF: Luckily, you found Dear Romance Writer, an advice podcast from people who write happily ever afters for a living.


0:00:14.8 XA: We are Xio Axelrod...


0:00:17.4 AF: Avery Flynn.


0:00:19.1 RP: And Roan Parrish.


0:00:20.4 XA: You have questions?


0:00:21.6 AF: And we have questionable answers.


0:00:24.8 RP: Let's get to it.




0:00:37.9 XA: Okay, well thank you guys so much for sending in your letters, we really love getting them, and you guys are funny, and touching and just amazing, so keep them coming. Today's letter is from Wrench and Romancing. "So next month will be mine and my wife's eight year anniversary." Well congratulations. Yay! "We have a pretty great relationship and I'm wild about her. We used to mark our anniversary with adventures, thoughtful gifts, and gestures, and surprises galore. Cut to now, we have a two-year-old, work, and are getting ready to move juggling a million projects. And one year into the pandemic we're exhausted. I really want to show her how special she is, but I'm out of ideas or energy to pull something off. What do I do? Sincerely, Wrench and Romance." I think a lot of people are in the same boat.


0:01:31.7 AF: Yeah, no kidding. Oh, that's hard.


0:01:35.0 XA: Avery, you've got kids?


0:01:38.2 AF: Yeah, especially at that age, I mean they need like constant supervision. For those of you without kids, but with dogs it's like having a puppy. Okay? If they're quiet they're chewing something they're not supposed to. And I literally mean that. Okay? Yeah, yeah, you guys are exhausted, and I would almost lean toward... I think the one thing that many of us are missing, especially with the pandemic, is sort of downtime, like solo downtime that you don't feel guilty about, and I think even... Especially when you have kids taking, and especially at that age, taking time out for yourself is really really needed, but really really guilt-inducing. So, if you're looking for something to be able to do, if it's possible to take your small child and go for a drive for 45 minutes, that's pretty amazing, that would be an awesome gift.


0:02:51.2 XA: That's what I was thinking.


0:02:52.8 AF: Because at that point in time she can't feel, "Well, I'll just check in." Or she's in the bathtub and she's feeling guilty because she's in the bathtub. If you remove yourself, and that's what your gift is, and you can still make a presentation out of it, you can wrap a big giant box, and there's nothing in it, and that's because it's free time. Free time is amazing. So I mean there's options like that that you can definitely do. I've been married for... Holy cow, we're hitting 21 years this year, so it's a lot.


0:03:30.3 XA: Amazing.


0:03:31.4 XA: Either of us are big gift givers, but the big thing is doing things for each other, and so I think that's another option that you can look into as well. Is if there's something that she just keeps meaning to get done, but never quite do it or it's a coupon book of lottery coupons.


0:03:53.0 XA: That's what I was thinking, one of those coupon book things that people make up or buy or whatever that's like two hours in front of the TV with no interruptions, or two hours with a book with no interruption, something like that, and it's funny because like you were saying like take the kid, and like go for a drive. Which sounds almost antithetical to what anniversaries usually are, like something for the two of them, but it is for the two of them because it's for her peace of mind, and mental health, and stress levels, and everything. And yeah, so I totally agree I think something like that it's thoughtful, it's doable, especially in the situation that we're all in right now which hopefully will be ending soon, but yeah, yeah.


0:04:37.9 AF: Well another thing too is you can make an experience at home, maybe if she's into getting her nails done, I don't know, I'm throwing it out there. That could be something, maybe you make your bedroom look like a spa, you light the candles, you put that weird little Enya music on, and your music on, you do all of that stuff, and then she walks in, and you're like, "Oh, ma'am, would you like to pick out your color?"




0:05:08.5 AF: This is time for your creativity to shine.


0:05:11.8 XA: Yeah for real, yeah, that would be actually really cute. [laughter] Candles around the bathtub. [laughter]


0:05:17.3 XA: I think experiences are always the best and I would advise that if your wife is someone who really likes presents, maybe not the wrapping an empty box thing.




0:05:31.1 AF: That's a really good point.


0:05:32.3 XA: It's big thing I got you, there is nothing in it but air, but my love... [laughter]


0:05:35.2 XA: [0:05:35.3] ____ opened the wrapping paper and then it's like, "Uh... " But that's a really sweet idea, and the coupon books are a great idea because it's a way to honor each other all year long not just on the day to see who give that, and that's like the real gift that keeps on giving, and when I was a kid and I used to make those coupon books for my parents for gifts, because I had no money and no way to get anywhere, I didn't ever mean it, like they never redeemed those coupons...


0:06:04.6 RP: It was the thought.


0:06:06.1 XA: Yeah, it's the thought, yeah, there's like the one coupon on the the very front that was like three kisses, and you give it to your parent, and they're like, "Okay, I'd like to redeem this one now," and you give them three kisses, and then like that thing is in the garbage. But like as an adult that's really valuable, there's nothing like the value on those things.


0:06:26.6 XA: So yeah, you could think of what are five or 10 or however many you feel like you could sustain over the year, maybe there are days that you... That they tap out of dinner, your wife taps out of dinner and you take over, or they usually cook or vice versa or she gets to go meet a friend and doesn't have to deal with getting child care 'cause you'll get the child care, whatever the things are. And I think that the nicest thing... Well, I guess, people have different opinions but the nicest thing... And we'll talk about that later, but it's like if you wanna honor someone or you wanna show them how special they are, it's telling them how much you care or doing things for them all the time, and so I like the idea of a coupon book 'cause it's just a bit of a formalization of having yourself do what you should be doing anyway, which is always trying to think about ways that you can make your partner's life easier and always trying to think of ways that you can... I mean, they should be doing that for you too. So yeah, I think that that's a great idea. You can make it look cuter than my written in crayon and stapled together as a child.


0:07:35.6 RP: It's really creative, but I also think that something like a coupon or certificate, or whatever it is, gives the receiver permission to ask for those things because if it's somebody who is a natural care... Like a caretaker, who just really embodies that, it's sometimes hard for them to ask for help with dinner or help with whatever. And so it's like, it's like, okay babe, I get it. I know you wanna do all the things, but sometimes you need a break, here's permission. There are some permission slips for you to use whenever you need to, to take that break. Yeah, but I agree, it's something that we should be doing for each other all year round, but I think it's just a reminder. Yeah, hopefully, that we gave you some ideas there, wrench in romancing and happy anniversary.


0:08:18.7 AF: Yes, happy anniversary. That's awesome. Yay! You're past the seven-year itch.


0:08:27.5 RP: When I was younger, I always saw the title of that movie, and I thought that it was an actual rash that occurs every seven years, and because in the picture on the cover is a summer thing, I was like, is love complicated or?


0:08:42.9 RP: Poison ivy? Yeah, I did too. I was like, what is that? Hey, that sounds really unpleasant. [laughter]


0:08:48.0 AF: No, nobody wants that.


0:08:49.9 RP: No, there's a cream for that.




0:08:58.1 AF: Yeah, that's awesome.



0:09:24.1 RP: Okay, cool. Thanks for that letter, and I want everyone to feel like they can write to us and ask us anything, so we are opening up letters for our social media as well, and letters via our social media as well as the website. So if you wanna send us a letter, you can do it the way you have been on but you can also DM us on Instagram or send us a direct message on Twitter or whatever you call direct messages on Twitter.


0:10:00.0 RP: Slide into our DMs.


0:10:03.3 AF: Come on in.


0:10:03.7 RP: Yeah, that's what they say. Anyway, in these two letters, we'll take them anywhere you got them.


0:10:09.8 AF: Well, and while we're here though, I thought it would be kind of fun to do a little bit more of a discussion on that pressure over presents because I think a lot of people experience this even if it's not in the category of a relationship. Presents are confusing. I think sometimes for people, especially, if those folks are not like... Have you guys heard of the five love language?


0:10:36.4 XA: Yeah.


0:10:36.9 AF: Okay, so one of the five languages is gifts, right? And it sounds really materialistic, but it is not meant that way, so that is some of the ways that... And love languages are just different ways that people identify love life, right? And so for some people that is their thing, however, if you are not a gift person, it can be really confusing, and so there's got to be ways of... If you are not a gift person, how can you better meet that need of a partner who is a gift person? It could be a romantic partner, it could be a friend partner, whatever it may be, what do you guys got for that?


0:11:26.2 XA: Yeah, and can we just go over it just because people aren't familiar with The Five Love Languages. It's a way of determining, what is the thing that makes you feel most loved? Acts of gifts, acts of service, words and affirmations, excellent quality time.


0:11:44.2 AF: Quality time and I can't remember what the firth one is... Hold on, you guys keep talking and all look while you guys are talking.


0:11:51.6 RP: I feel like I should this, I've never heard of this.


0:11:54.0 RP: Oh, yeah. Well, it's one of those quiz that you can take. Obviously, this is not highly scientific but, there's a quiz that you can take where you rate how much you would enjoy...


0:12:03.5 XA: Each one, okay.


0:12:05.2 RP: And then it tells you sort of, this is your primary love language and secondary one, and I didn't read the book or anything, I think I just read an article about it and then I took the quiz.


0:12:12.7 AF: Oh, Physical Touch. I've actually read the books, and it's good. So the five are: Words of affirmation. So that's like, I love you. So it's your partner or whomever, saying, "I love you every time." Quality time, that's when you are actively engaged in spending quality time together. Physical touch, physical touch. Acts of service, so like we were talking about before, walk into your bedroom spa and let me paint your toenails, and then receiving gifts, and some people really get off of giving gifts too.


0:12:45.5 XA: Oh, yeah.


0:12:46.2 AF: So that I think that the gift-giving thing can go both ways.


0:12:49.6 XA: Yeah.


0:12:49.9 RP: Yeah, and I'm interested to talk about... I feel like probably the easiest is if you and whoever you're talking about have the same love language, but I feel like any mismatch of love languages, especially if you don't know the language, love language could be like, oh, I keep expecting that, or... It's a nice way of being reminded that your perspective is not the perspective of every other person in the world, because that moment when you realize that you assumed that the thing that you like the most is what someone else would want, and they take that quiz and you're like, "Oh, you actually don't care about getting gifts at all, you just want me to touch you every time I walk past and here I've been dropping diamonds all over you."


0:13:36.5 XA: Right.


0:13:37.0 AF: Yeah, for some reason pinging you with diamonds is not the same kind of physical touch. Very disappointing. I will take the diamonds and I'm not a gift person. But, yeah, that's really interesting.


0:13:51.8 XA: No, I'm a big gift giver so I understand this one very very well.


0:13:55.9 AF: You like to gift gifts. Okay.


0:13:57.3 XA: I love giving gifts.


0:14:00.1 AF: And so what do you find is like in a relationship thing, whether it's friends or whether it's a romantic relationship, how do you suge... Suge is not even a word. How do you meet that need...


0:14:16.0 XA: I was suging.


0:14:18.0 AF: Yeah. You were suging. How do you meet that need if it is not the other person's love language though?


0:14:26.3 XA: Yeah, my family, I think, are big gift givers and big gift receivers, but there's always been, I won't call it a competition, but there's definitely this feeling of like, "I gave you... " Especially with siblings, it's like, "I gave you this thing worth $25, you only gave me this thing worth five?" Do you know what I mean? So there's this like, you have to match the level or if it's like to a parent or to someone else, or like you go to a baby shower and people are giving gifts and was like, "Well, this one's from us." And "This one is from me." And it's like more and more extravagant and everyone's like, "Who gave the most expensive or the biggest or the most prestigious gift?" There's a lot of that in my circles, and so I as a gift giver, I tend to go for things that I know the person will like personally, even if it's something small.


0:15:21.0 XA: Like they really love this character from a TV show, so I'll find like a Funko pop or like a signed picture or something like that, rather than, "Here's this big expensive thing." And I hope that they'll receive it in the manner that I meant to give it with the love, but if they're one of those people that's like, "I really wanted a diamond." Then I'm like SOL. But for me, I guess I try to gauge someone's gift receiving levels, I guess, before I do that.


0:15:51.3 AF: Oh, that is a really good point.


0:15:53.0 XA: Just in conversation, when you talk about birthdays or holidays or what they got or whatever, like that just sort of like file that information away later for future reference, if that makes sense. That's just my method I guess.


0:16:07.0 RP: That's a really good point. I like that.


0:16:09.5 XA: I can be overwhelming with gifts sometimes though, I do have a problem.


0:16:13.1 AF: I've never felt overwhelmed by gifts, Xio, so I'm gonna have an issue with you the next time [0:16:18.3] ____.




0:16:18.7 XA: Okay. Alright.


0:16:19.6 AF: I'm gonna expect those diamonds that Roan was talking about. I think in terms of a relationship, neither Mr. Flynn nor our gift folks in receiving, we both like to give, but one thing though that kind of ties into the gift thing is he still to this day shops on Christmas Eve for Christmas. My birthday is August 30th. I know he's gonna get my birthday gift on August 29th, and so one of my love languages is quality of time so that was a huge adjustment for me in my thinking when it came to gifts and what they represent, because to me that was, "I'm just gonna put this off until the very last minute because it's not important." So that's how I interpret it. And that took, honestly, it took a long time for me to figure out, "No, he is not." He just absolutely hates shopping that much that... Thank God for online shopping, for this poor guy. But so for me when I give a gift, part of the fun of it is the thinking about it, and the amount of time that goes into the planning part and finding the perfect thing and all that stuff, so it goes back to exactly what Roan was talking about with what gets you, may not be what gets them.


0:17:52.4 AF: Yeah.


0:17:53.0 AF: And even on something as simple as a birthday gift, learning that, "Hey, the fact the person's gonna go out at like 10:00 AM on the day of your birthday is not actually personal." So that, I think... Yeah, I think ties into the whole gift giving as a sign of love as well.


0:18:13.4 XA: Like my in-laws, they're from Russia and they don't do... And this is what they tell me, I think it is just this family.


0:18:22.9 AF: If they are lying, somebody will write in and let us know.


0:18:26.0 XA: They don't do cards, I love cards, they don't do cards. They don't wrap, and there's no such thing as a surprise. So for every gift giving event, it's, "Send me your wish list, we'll get something on it," it'll show up whenever, there's no like... And so Mr. X is kind of like that too, he's gotten... We've been together long enough that he is like, "Okay, I know you like that stuff." So he's adjusted in terms of my gifts, what he gets me one because he figured out my taste. Which was like a thing 'cause the first couple of gifts he gave me for anniversaries and stuff, I think I have like... I think he gave me like this bracelet that is just hideous, it's awful. And I was like, "Oh, babe, thanks." And then it's been sitting in the drawer ever since. And so at one point, he was like, "You didn't like that, did you?" And I was like, "Well, but it was really sweet, that you... 'Cause you know I like... " And he was like, "Okay." So every year he's like, "Okay, I know you like Gothic stuff, you like... " Whatever and so he's.


0:19:27.8 XA: He's learned my love language, my gift language, and I've learned his... Whereas he doesn't like surprises, he doesn't care if it's wrapped, he doesn't care about cards, so we've figured each other out, but it took a minute for me to... My in-laws... Stuff would just show up in the cardboard box and I'm like, "Thanks... " That was it. Just like e-gift cards, Gift cards are like another contentious thing for people who... Gift giving sometimes 'cause it's like... It seems impersonal, but for me, I'm like, Well, I don't know exactly what you wanted, but you like this store, so here's some money to go buy from that store that you love, which I think is a valid gift giving choice, but for some people that's really insulting and impersonal... You know so.


0:20:10.0 AF: Yeah. Gifts are loaded it, don't you think so?


0:20:14.8 RP: Even just like culturally gifts evolve or anthropologically, I should say.


0:20:20.1 AF: Oh, there you go.


0:20:21.1 RP: Gift's evolved as a way of making social connections, like formalizing social connections, you would give a gift interpersonally from one family to the next family to establish a connection, you would give a gift within tribes... There's a sense of indebtedness when you receive a gift, that's essentially built into gift giving, not in a nasty way, but to say, I have the resources to give something away and I choose to give it to you, is like there is something that's loaded about that, and depending on how you grew up, and what role gift giving played in your family, like you were saying Xio and in your partner's family or friends families or whatever. Yeah, I think that there are tons of ways that gifts like hurt people's feelings in ways that you would think like, Oh, it's just a nice... When is a gift ever not nice? And it's like...


0:21:22.7 XA: Right, yeah.


0:21:23.7 AF: Yeah, no, that's a really good... I love that you brought up the anthropological, cultural aspect to gift giving, 'cause that was actually... I'm from the Midwest, when we get married, we give each other toasters, right.


0:21:35.6 RP: Like the couple gives each other toasters?


0:21:40.0 AF: No, no, no, I mean like your wedding gifts from other people, like they come to your wedding reception, there's a table, it's usually piled with gifts that you registered for... Right, right. When Mr. Flynn and I got married, that was something that he had to... He had to sit me down and he's like, do you remember when we watched a good fellas and I'm like, Yeah. He's like, Do you remember when this is the wedding scene where they give... Everybody gave envelopes with money, and I'm like, Yeah, that was so weird. He's like, That's gonna happen at her wedding, you're gonna need a little bag. And I'm like, What? I had no concept of any of that, and that still to this day is one of the weirdest experiences of my life, just walking around my wedding reception with like a bag of money, and then we left for our honeymoon the next morning, so we had to find an ATM, because none of the [0:22:35.0] ____ I'm not making an appointment...


0:22:37.8 XA: Appointment Bags of cash.


0:22:39.0 RP: Imagine you like sowing it into your petticoats like escaping a war.


0:22:42.8 XA: Going through customs like, do you have any cash on you? "Yeah, I have this bag of cash."


0:22:51.5 AF: You know again that comes into... Gift giving is so loaded because it comes with what's the meaning for the gift B, what is the meaning for the gift A, and what is the cultural meaning of it? And so there's a lot of different layers to that. So it's not a surprise, like poor Wrench in romance, there's pressure to finding the perfect gift...


0:23:15.9 XA: Yeah.


0:23:17.8 RP: Even within like you were talking about Xio... I'm glad to know you like cards 'cause I will file that away. I am a card person, I'm like, why would someone spend... I don't know, cards now cost 75 dollars or something, when I was child that was 85 cents and it came with an envelope, and now I see them and I'm like, what is this? What's being perpetrated on to people?


0:23:39.0 AF: Why is it singing to me? Why won't it shut up?


0:23:42.4 RP: I know. I know it's like they're just handing me something for me to recycle... What's the point of this? And so I never gift anyone cards or like I cut out a little chunk of the wrapping paper and write my name on it and stick it to the things that someone knows who it's from, but I never was a card person. I'm actually not the biggest gift, I really enjoy finding the perfect thing for other people, but I hate shopping when there's an occasions, I don't like going shopping, online shopping is okay, or I love like antique stores and just looking around...


0:24:17.2 RP: I was gonna say, you like yeah.


0:24:18.6 RP: Yeah I like that kind of stuff, but I don't like shopping for an object, so I like being able to just as I'm moving through my life, if I see something that someone in my life would like, I just buy it and then I have it and then when it's time, when's the next birthday or holiday or whatever, then I'll send it to them, but...


0:24:39.0 XA: Yeah.


0:24:39.3 RP: Yeah, my family, my parents always gave my sister and I gifts for Hanukkah, for our birthday, but it definitely wasn't a... It wasn't a big to do really, it was like... Or it was unidirectional, it wasn't like this is when we all exchanged gifts and it's a big family, it was like... It's just us... My mom's family is from New York, my dad's family is from Philadelphia. They all live down the East Coast, and by the time I was of gift giving age, we lived in Michigan, and so it was just our little family, it was basically my sister and I opening some gifts from my parents and giving them the crappy crayon... Coupon that I was talking about, there was always a sense to me of like, it's a holiday, so your parents give you things and that's nice, but it's not like nobody else cares that it's your birthday or that it's a big thing is... You're getting gifts from 30 people. So I think I grew up with a... Birthdays are fine, and the holidays are nice and everything, but I never really thought of it as like, this is the time I'm gonna spend a month shopping for everybody that I know and love, that's just not a thing that I ever lived with.


0:25:45.9 AF: So do you get extra stressed out though then, when you do have to buy gifts? Like if I said you need to get a gift for Xio. Go find the perfect gift. You've got 24 hours, would that be stressful to you?


0:26:01.8 RP: No, because I wouldn't feel like I had to get a gift for Xio I mean...


0:26:06.5 XA: What?


0:26:06.9 AF: But I'm ordering you.


0:26:08.8 RP: She's like, "Who's gonna make me?"


0:26:13.1 AF: You can't make me. You're too far away.


0:26:15.7 RP: Love language though, is I like to cook for people. That's my favorite thing.


0:26:19.4 XA: I was gonna say...


0:26:20.7 RP: It makes me incredibly happy to imagine what someone else would want to eat, or in the case of if it were a gift, I would probably do dessert as opposed to food. So I would make Xio a cake or something, and I'm like, I know because I've made Xio things in the past. I know that she only eats a little bit at a time and then she freezes it. And then I know that that means she will later take it out of the freezer and be eating it, and maybe be thinking that I care about her 'cause I made this for her. So I really enjoy the feeling of giving something to someone that will make them feel loved in that way. So if I didn't know what to get someone, I would always probably bake them something. I also...


0:27:01.0 AF: And I loved that. And you know what? That wrench needs to think about.


0:27:04.3 RP: Oh, yeah.


0:27:04.8 AF: Wrench should think about baking something for somebody like that.


0:27:09.4 RP: Although, imagine baking with a two-year-old. Might be kind of like...


0:27:11.5 XA: Get the two-year-old to help like, two-year-old, here. Come here.


0:27:16.7 AF: Not exactly for... Oh my God, no.


0:27:17.6 XA: Just with like something small and not too destructive. You know what I mean? Like, hand me that spoon. Give me the spoon, or put the spoon in the sink. Stuff like that. I was gonna say, we were talking about cards. I don't know when he started doing it, but my father likes to give two cards. He'll give you a funny one and a serious one.


0:27:41.3 AF: So cute.


0:27:43.2 XA: Yeah, and my mom, she... When she passed away, I got her box of stuff. And when I opened it, there were cards from decades inside, from people that I...


0:27:56.7 AF: Oh, she kept them.


0:27:56.9 XA: Didn't even know existed. People from the South, like her family and stuff. And I was like, "I don't know who these people are," so yeah. I think cards are easier to keep for some people. They store them away like they do photographs. You know what I mean? So I think I get that. They do get a little ridiculous in price. I love the love pop cards, the ones that when you open them, it's like a 3D laser paper thing. So those are fun, but yeah, some of them are just... One, they can be super cheesy, and then super gaudy. But people love them, so I love what they love. But yeah, I don't know when he started doing that, but two cards.


0:28:35.2 AF: That's really sweet.


0:28:36.2 RP: That is sweet.


0:28:36.9 AF: So what would you guys advise somebody who is not a, gift is my love language, person with somebody who is a, gift is my love language, person? How do you meet in the middle with that?


0:28:53.2 RP: Well, I definitely believe that you don't have to keep things equitable in terms of that. If your partner is a, gifts are my love language, person, and you are an, acts of service are my love language, person, I say, get your partner a bunch of gifts. And they don't have to get you them, but then they'll do a bunch of favors for you, and that's fine. And in terms of knowing what to get, I also am very... I'm particular about the gifts that I give, because I hate receiving things that I don't want. I hate clutter, I hate waste, and if I get something I don't want, then it's like, I would never throw it away 'cause it's wasteful, so I would have to pass it along. And then it's like someone's giving you a chore instead of a gift. And so I try very, very hard to only get people things, like if I'm gonna get an object, to only get them things that I know they will like and not wanna get rid of. So I think the best way is, pay close attention to the things that the person that you're trying to get a gift for, says that they need, but you know they wouldn't get for themselves. So it's not...


0:29:58.1 AF: That's really good.


0:30:00.5 RP: If someone needs something like a computer charger, that's probably something they'll just get for themselves. You don't need to be like Hanukkah will be here in three months, I got your back. And if it's something that's just... Pure, pleasurable things are great for some people too, but for me, the perfect gift is, like someone says, "Oh, this thing would be so cool and it would make my life easier, but it's a little bit out of my... I don't need it. I can make do." Those are the words that I'm always listening for, and then I swoop in and get them the thing. And then when they open it, it's like a double gift 'cause it's like... They get the thing that they wanted, but wouldn't get, and they remember when they mentioned it, and they're like, "Oh my God, I said this... "


0:30:46.5 XA: You remember. Yeah.


0:30:47.3 AF: Oh, that's a huge thing.


0:30:47.9 RP: And makes them feel very affirmed and very cared for, and that makes me very happy.


0:30:54.7 AF: Well, and you know what? I think you just hit it. That is the goal when you're giving it a gift. It is to let somebody know that they are affirmed and that they are cared for and that they are being listened to, and... I remember hearing about the old couples, where every Wednesday one of them would bring the other one flowers. And so it doesn't have to be something huge. It doesn't have to be diamonds or fancy jewelry, or whatever it is. If somebody's love language is gifts, that doesn't mean it has to be super expensive for you. It really can be, you know what? These were on sale at Publix for $4 a dozen, so I got you some flowers. Just don't say that first part. It's more of, I saw these and thought of you. But again, it doesn't have to be something... It doesn't have to be a huge production for you to be able to meet that need for your, either romantic partner, or friend partner, or whoever it may be.


0:32:00.8 XA: I wanna flip this around real quick for advice for people who are big gift receivers, and they are not with people who are big gift givers. We've talked about treat yourself before. This is like that opportunity... So if you're a big gift receiver and you're with someone, a family member, relationship, friend, whatever it is, and they're just not that gift giver and... 'Cause I've been... When I was younger I was like, "Oh man, I wish somebody would do that thing for me. I wish somebody would get that thing for me." But it was like, you got to the point where you're like, "I'm gonna get the thing for myself and I'll enjoy it with them, or they can enjoy it with me, or I can enjoy it on my own, whatever." But I think waiting for someone to give you a gift that you want, or an experience that you want is... And you know that that's not something that they would naturally think to do, is just setting yourself up for disappointment.


0:32:55.3 XA: Don't be afraid to be your own gift giver. You know what I mean? Like if you really love Belgian chocolate and your partner or your friend or whatever is allergic to chocolate or whatever, you're not gonna get Belgian chocolate from them, get it for yourself, and enjoy it and... And then, you can feel good and have your thing that you love. I just think that... Like you said, like Roan said, there's a lot of pressure on people to receive things too, from people who are not natural gift givers. And, they wanna make them feel good about giving that gift, but they're disappointed so they're like, "Okay, I wanna hide my disappointment, so just take that... Take that pressure off the table." Like even if you sit down and have a discussion with them and say, "You know what? We're not on the same page when it comes to this stuff, so let's just acknowledge that, and, I'll do this thing for me and you can enjoy it with me if you want and... " You know what I mean? Like, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with that.


0:33:51.2 RP: I think that's a great idea, and you could even go shopping for your gift together. Like...


0:33:55.1 XA: Yeah.


0:33:55.4 RP: If it's like, the person wants to be involved and is like, "I wanna be the one to pay for it, I wanna be the one to... " Right? You know you could go shopping for it, and then you get home, and the other person takes it away and wraps it up and brings it to you and you get to unwrap it, or you... I think it could be fun thinking of ways to sort of... It... 'Cause I know for some people, it's like they want the thing, but they actively don't want to buy it themselves for whatever reason, I'm sure it makes sense. I don't know. I just buy myself what I want but whatever. I think you could do a shopping day with your partner, and you could go shopping, and you could be like, "Okay, what are the occasions throughout the year that I would get a gift?" Like my birthday, the holidays and our anniversary.


0:34:39.4 XA: Anniversary, right?


0:34:40.5 RP: Yeah.


0:34:40.9 AF: Right.


0:34:41.4 RP: So, you could be like, your job is to pick three things that you like, and you go shopping for the three things, and it's... It's on an unrelated day, and then, you don't know when you're gonna get which of the three things.


0:34:52.5 XA: Oh, that's good.


0:34:52.9 RP: But throughout the year then you know that you're gonna be given...


0:34:55.2 AF: That's really fun.


0:34:56.6 XA: Yeah.


0:34:56.9 RP: That's like... And, the other person didn't have to find them themselves. You could do it online too, it doesn't have to be like you're all kind of shopping. Or if you're on a trip and you go to a store and something is amazing, you could be like, "I want this to be one of my presents." And I think that's a nice way to involve the other person but take some of the pressure off.


0:35:15.6 XA: Yeah. Yeah. It's super fun.


0:35:16.6 RP: You could also do couple gifts like... Or joint whatever, family member gifts, joint gifts where you're like, "Okay, this year, we'll take all the money that we would have spent on birthday, holidays, anniversary, and, we will put it all together and see how much money would that have been." Like $200 or a $1000 or however much you spend on gifts and then be like, "Oh, let's get bikes for both of us, 'cause we like to ride bikes. Or, let's get a new car, or, take a trip, or, get a new refrigerator." Whatever you're into, and that's a... That's a thing that like... It might serve you really well and be practical, but also it's a gift that you get to think about and plan together, and then you get the joy of the thinking and the planning, and then you still get the thing at the end.


0:36:04.3 XA: That's actually what we do, Mr. X and I. 'Cause we got to the point where we were getting holiday gifts for each other that we didn't really want or need, it was like, "Gotta put something on your list, you gotta put something on your list, I gotta give... Give me something to get you." And I was like, "I don't need anything, I don't want anything." So we started getting things for the house; like, when our TV died we were like, "Okay, we're gonna get a really cool TV. It's like a Smart TV or whatever." And, I liked the idea of opening things up on Christmas morning, even though I didn't grow up with that. I just love that. So, for the compromise, we do the family gift, the house gift, and then we do stockings. So like, I make him... He has to make a stocking list, and it's usually like Russian candy. Do you know what I mean? Stuff like that, things like little things that he wouldn't buy for himself like tea, whatever it is. And then like... And, that morning we get up and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, my stocking is super full of candy and tea." And it's lovely, and then we can enjoy our brand new speakers or whatever. It's like yeah... It's... It's... There were ways to do this, but I think taking that pressure off, which I don't think people even realize that they could do. Just do it. Do you know what I mean? It just doesn't occur to some people, like they don't have to put this pressure on someone.


0:37:11.8 RP: Totally. And just like every other proverbial relationship, I feel like my advice is always the same, which is, how to talk about it. Like...


0:37:18.0 XA: Yeah. Yeah.


0:37:18.4 RP: Ivy, I read this on the... "Am I the Asshole?"


0:37:21.2 AF: Oh, God. Yeah.


0:37:22.0 XA: Yeah.


0:37:22.0 RP: Every time I feel like there are just these... It's question after question, usually by the person... I guess it's actually from both of them but, the person who's like, "I got my partner a gift, because I know they like gifts, they were sad and cried because they thought that the gift was bad and that it meant I didn't love them. Am I the asshole?" Or from the other side, "I wanted this thing, I talk about it constantly, when my birthday came around, my partner gave me this other thing, does this mean they never listen to me? I cry." It's like gifts and crying. And I think... And I'm kinda like... Often it's just like, "Oh, what is wrong with straight people moment for me?" Where I'm like, do you not talk about things? Do you not move through the world conversing with one another so that you've known what each other want? I don't get... Like what kind of relationship is this where you're... You...


0:38:20.7 AF: Very limited amounts of communication. [laughter]


0:38:25.0 RP: Yeah, and it's so cruel to me. It's like sit down and be like, "Hey, babe, I hate the gifts you give me. Love you to death, love the sentiment, but we don't have the same taste. Let's talk about it." This is not that hard and I got it for you. I'm honest.


0:38:41.5 XA: But it is for some people. It is for some people.


0:38:42.3 AF: Oh, my God. It is... It is for some people. And, I...


0:38:42.4 XA: And not just about that subject too, just... Sometimes it just spreads throughout their life so yeah. But yeah.


0:38:47.5 AF: That... That falls into everything, but, I would say on that note, on that communication note, straighter or queerer, or anywhere in between, you can take that love languages quiz for free online. And it's...


0:39:05.8 XA: Oh, I'm gonna take it.


0:39:06.0 AF: It's kind of... And it's short. So, if the person that you were taking it with is not into it, it won't take them very long, and it is a nice neutral way to start that conversation when you're not crying, or the other person is not crying. So, again...


0:39:22.5 XA: Yeah, don't do it near any major life events, just pick a random day, and do it.


0:39:29.9 AF: Yeah. So... And, it's... It's an easy quick quiz, it's free, the book's actually super interesting, the guy is... I wanna see if he's a minister, which is not my jam, but... It is not... I've read the book, it's been a really long time, but it's not super God heavy if that is not your jam. If it is your jam, you'll see that and it will be comfortable. So I would just put it that way.


0:39:56.4 RP: But what is your love language, Avery?


0:40:00.2 AF: I am a quality time. I'm a quality time girl. And then Mr. Flynn is acts of service. So those actually are different but they meld pretty well together. But yeah, but we would have never have known that. And he grew up around people who are more gifts, so the fact that he was around people that were gift folks, and then he's an acts of service, so both of those were not mine, and acts of service is great, but if it's like a Saturday and he spends the whole day mowing the lawn, because that's his act of service is to make sure our house looks nice, right, so I don't feel like I live in a messy place, which I would hate. Then he's singing, he's doing that, and all I'm saying is he's spending all his free time away from me. What is going on? So again, I think it's that communication effort and the ability to look in and see what is different here, where are we aligned and where are we not?




0:42:16.1 XA: This weeks playlist guys is super fun. It's called: Still The One, it's inspired by Wrench, but it's got some Eric Clapton on there, I've got Ed Sheeran, I've got Jackie Wilson and Natalie Cole, Sugar Land. It's a good one. I think it'll set the mood for that anniversary night or whatever's going on. I think it's a really good one. Just let me know what you think.


0:42:41.0 AF: I love that.


0:42:41.4 XA: Yeah.


0:42:43.1 RP: In Wrench, you could pass it off as something that you created as a gift.


0:42:49.1 XA: Yeah, I think there's a feature where you can create a playlist just like this one and just copy all the songs over.


0:42:54.7 RP: There you go.


0:42:55.8 XA: Then you can just be like, "Look, babe, I did this playlist for you."


0:43:00.4 AF: Yeah, "Happy anniversary hunny. I stole for you."


0:43:01.8 RP: I will still the moon for you.


0:43:02.7 XA: I think that's super romantic.


0:43:04.1 AF: It is super romantic.


0:43:05.4 RP: Speaking of stealing, my recipe this week is not my own, it's not stealing, it's just recommending a recipe by Smitten Kitchen AKA Deb Perelman who I'm waiting to try one of her recipes and have it suck, and it just hasn't happened yet, so I'm suspicious. But this week's recipe is a perfect recipe for if you want to bring that special someone breakfast in bed. Say, an anniversary morning or just a Wednesday. There are cinnamon scones, like cinnamon sugar scones, but they're folded, so it's like you make your scone dough and then you sprinkle cinnamon sugar in between and then you fold it and then sprinkle more and fold it. And so they come out in these beautiful triangles that actually look like the edges, like the pages of a book, with cinnamon sugar.


0:44:00.4 AF: I just got shivers.


0:44:01.7 RP: You will when you taste them too. So the scone dough isn't very sweet, and then you have the sweet cinnamon sugar, so it's like, it's sweet enough to be sweet.


0:44:10.3 XA: Right.


0:44:11.6 RP: But it's not like you're eating breakfast, I mean, you're eating dessert for breakfast, they're so good. You all don't know me, so this may not mean anything to you or some people. I never make recipes exactly how they are, I always tweak most of them, even if it's good, there's always something that I think I want to do differently but these scones I make exactly as listed. Obviously I add more cinnamon and sugar, I'm not a monster but actually I do everything just like Deb says in the recipe. Thank you, Deb. I love you so much.


0:44:46.3 XA: That sounds delicious and I want one, now I'm hungry.


0:44:50.6 AF: Yes, no kidding.


0:44:52.0 XA: As always, after everyone talks about one of her recipes.


0:44:55.6 AF: Very hungry. Well, I stuffed my face with a lot of not good food for me, that was not cinnamon sugar scones. Yesterday, or not yesterday, but the other day when I had to take a day off work and I binged watched The Great. So that is what I'm starting off our recommendations section with.


0:45:15.3 XA: Okay.


0:45:17.2 AF: It's on Hulu, it is about Catherine The Great. It is a dramedy. Do not watch with small children or anyone else you're uncomfortable with, a lot of sex. That's it, number one. But it is great. It's really well done. It's fun. It is not true historically and they don't even pretend. In fact, each episode's got a little asterisk by the title card, and underneath it says "An occasionally true story." So that's really great, but it is Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, and they do a great job. And it is really fun actually. A look at power dynamics and a look at sort of a growth arc, a strong growth arc with Catherine's character, and then also just the whole... Ridiculousness of a life at court, so... It's really fun, I highly recommend it.


0:46:27.1 XA: Cool.


0:46:28.1 AF: Don't watch with small children, you will have lots of explaining to do...




0:46:37.9 XA: I will rec... It's an Amazon Prime show, it's called Upload. And it's about the digital afterlife, you can upload yourself to a digital afterlife... It's from Greg Daniels, the guy who was probably more well known from the Office, but it reminds me a little bit of Black Mirror, if you've ever seen Black Mirror...


0:47:00.6 AF: Yeah.


0:47:00.7 XA: It's very twisty and it's very brightly shot, like bright colors, and it plays like a sitcom, like a comedy... No, laugh track, thank goodness. But it's very dark, it talks about classism and there's some sexism, there's a little bit of racism in there, but it's all done in this premise of this guy who wants to get uploaded to this really lux neighborhood in the afterlife, but his girlfriend controls his finances so she controls how much he can do there, where he can live, where he can eat. It's really... Really messed up. But in a really good way, and they just started shooting season two, and I wasn't even sure it was getting a second season, so I'm really happy that it's coming back, but I think it's not even like a long series, maybe six or 10 episodes, somewhere like that, but it's Amazon Prime and it's... Robbie Amell is the star of it, probably of the Stephen Amell...


0:47:55.1 AF: The Arrow. [laughter]


0:47:55.6 XA: Yeah. The Arrow, yeah. I think he was on the Arrow for a bit...


0:48:00.8 AF: Mr. Ladder.


0:48:03.2 XA: Yeah, right. I think Robbie was on the arrow for a minute, but anyway, he's really good and it's really funny, so check it out.


0:48:08.1 RP: That is cool. I'll check both of those out. My rec this week also TV or... Well, TV and movies, I guess, is Mike Flanagan, the director, who I love... I just have loved everything he's done, but most recently he did The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor Which are so fucking good...


0:48:31.3 AF: They are fabulous. I loved both of those.


0:48:33.3 RP: They are all good. Both so good. And I don't even know, okay, how to describe what is so good about them. His stories are so rich that even though they are sort of filed under horror I guess, they're really just more about... They're more about the idea of haunting as in what things from our past remain ever present with us than they are about the horror of ghosts or a house trying to kill you, and especially haunting of Hill House is this really beautiful recursively told story where it bounces between past and present, but then it circles back around and things in the present explicate things in the past, so that when you see them again, they take on new meaning and vice versa.


0:49:24.2 RP: And... Oh God, both of those are just so good, but I have to get everyone even more obsessed with him because he is currently in production, making an adaptation... A TV adaptation of one of my all-time favorite young adult reads or middle grade reads, which is The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike. Yeah, so the mythic by Christopher Pike... I realized this is two recommendations or whatever. Midnight Club by Christopher Pike is about a group of terminally ill teenagers. I was obsessed with terminally ill teenagers as a child...


0:50:02.3 AF: Classic phase. [laughter]


0:50:03.2 RP: You know, literally McDaniel and the Holocaust and all that stuff.


0:50:10.1 XA: I knew it was a Gashlycrumb Tinies. [laughter]


0:50:13.9 RP: Oh my god, yes, I love that too. But the Midnight Club, it's like this group of kids who are all basically in an end of life, like hospice kind of house, and they meet every night at midnight to tell stories, and of course they're all obsessed with what happens when you die because they're all about to die. And so they make this pact that whoever dies first will try to contact the rest of the group... The rest of the Midnight Club, and so of course, then when one of their number dies, things...


0:50:42.8 AF: Stuff happens.


0:50:44.5 RP: Yeah, no spoilers but stuff happens, but that book is like... Legit Christopher Pike is a genius of plot and one of the worst writers ever in terms of prose... So the book I recommend in terms of like be 11 in your heaven and enjoy the story, but I think that Mike Flanagan is a great writer and works with great writers and his direction is both subtle and beautiful that I feel like it's such a great combination, and I'm hoping that he will repair the parts of the Midnight Club that are bad.




0:51:22.6 RP: Really do a great job with it. I also I feel like his casting is great, especially kids, so I'm really hopeful. Anyway, not to turn this into a Mike Flanagan fan Podcast, call me Mike Flanagan, but...


0:51:33.7 XA: We went from a Charlize Theron fan podcast, so we can be a Mike Flanagan fan podcast.


0:51:42.0 AF: Sorry, you know we're fickle.


0:51:43.0 XA: We're fickle humans.


0:51:45.0 AF: There's no trusting us.


0:51:46.9 RP: But we give questionable advice.


0:51:49.2 XA: Very questionable advice.




0:51:55.7 RP: Thank you so much for listening. What did you think? Did we get it right? Totally got it wrong? Let us know.


0:52:01.7 XA: And remember to follow us on social media, subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and YouTube, and tell your friends to do the same. Plus, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, at for all the latest and to get access to special Patreon-only content.


0:52:18.9 AF: As always, keep sending in those letters at You have questions. We have questionable answers, see you next time.

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