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My boyfriend doesn't buy me gifts — does he love me?

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in's "30-second therapist" series. This week, one reader says her boyfriend doesn't shower her with gifts, while another says she wants a relationship, but needs her space.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Need a quick answer to a ? Relationship expert cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in’s “30-second therapist” series.

Q: I am a 50-year-old woman, and I married my first serious boyfriend when I was 21. We had five children, and divorced after 15 years of marriage. I've been dating for the last 14 years. I've finally met a man I like. He's 49 years old and we want the same things. He lived in Germany for years, he was in the military, and after his tour, he married a German woman, to whom he was married for 14 years. He’s now divorced, and we’re trying to have a relationship, but he isn't like the men I’ve dated.  He doesn’t offer to do nice things for me. It’s not that I need him to take care of me, but I’m used to men buying me flowers and other things just because.  He feels that taking me to the movies and dinner at casual restaurants is romantic! I guess I’ve just been spoiled all my life, and this guy is not what I'm used to. What should I do? He never offers me money for pampering, shopping or just for gas. Am I being selfish? —Unsure

Dear Unsure,
It’s not a matter of being “spoiled” or “selfish;” it’s just that the two of you express love in different terms. The book, “The Five Love Languages” explains that you appreciate gifts to show adoration, while your partner values engaging in quality time. Add that variation to the fact that your guy’s been living in another culture, and accustomed to other standards.

“Want[ing] the same things” is just one ingredient for happiness. Now you must discuss your love language preferences. Until this is resolved, you’ll continue to feel “unsure” of boyfriend’s commitment. Attention all couples! The way in which thorny issues are resolved will determine the shelf life of your love! —Dr. Gilda  

Q: I don't want to be alone, but I can't stand living with a man! When I just want to be alone and have had a bad day, the guy I’m dating is always thinking it has to do with him. I get the question, "You’ve been distant with me. Is it me?" These constant questions make me feel like he’s very self-involved. I seem to date a lot of guys like this, and it makes me want to be alone. The guys are always helpful, loving and faithful, which is rare from my past experiences. But I can't stand them always wanting to be together. I need my time. Am I stingy? Am I asking too much? I have never dealt well with living with someone because I really like my space when I need it, and don't want to leave my own home to get it.  Is there something wrong with me? I want to be in a relationship, but I just don't last long in them. —Space Hungry

Dear Space Hungry,
As people have differing appetites for sex, they have varied needs for space. It took an architect to identify my requirements for expansion, rather than constriction, and then I observed how it played out, from my living preferences to my signature!

You don’t have to apologize to want alone time. But, girlfriend, anyone involved with someone is obliged to convey her needs and boundaries. You’ve been communicating fraudulently because you don’t want to lose these “helpful, loving and faithful” finds.  Perhaps you’re fearful they’ll reject your wishes, and prove they’re not such prizes, after all. You can’t have it both ways! My ™ advises, “Expose your clean linen early, and avoid the pressure to disclose your dirty laundry later.” —Dr. Gilda

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is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.