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THE QUESTION: I sneaked a peek into my new girlfriend's closet and saw an expensive velvet jacket I was coveting. I really haven't been seeing her that long and I'm a bit embarrassed - I got her a gift basket of spa products. Do I have to rush out and find a 24-hour jewellery store and spend a couple hundred more bucks?

THE ANSWER: Ah good - an opportunity for me to rant against competitive gift giving. Isn't it awful to feel pressured to give something extravagant? Isn't it unpleasant and rather silly to buy a gift out of guilt rather than out of love? Listen, your parents probably told you this when you were a kid, but we all tend to forget it: The point of a gift is not its monetary value but the goodwill and thoughtfulness it embodies. If you genuinely put some thought into what you got her, you have nothing to worry about. It sounds as if you're a lucky guy: She bought you that jacket not because she wants you to match it but because she likes you. A lot. She's not angling for anything material in return. And if she is, she doesn't like you enough.

Russell Smith is The Globe and Mail's men's advice columnist.

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