I really wish I had a really good therapist, because this is the kind of question I would need to ask her.
I have a tendency to go to extreme lengths to try to make the people I love happy. An example from my current life is the story of the masks for my son’s girlfriend. He’s been dating her for four years and I have a lot of warm feelings toward her, almost like she’s a member of the family.
I made her a mask way back at the beginning of the pandemic and she really likes it; she says it’s her favorite one. I’m not the most expert at sewing and surely she has other masks that look better. But even when I see some of the pictures she draws, like portraits of herself and my son, she’s always wearing the mask even in the drawings.
I suspect it has some sort of emotional significance for her, though I can’t be sure. She’s a very sentimental young woman in general. She’s experienced a lot of loss and doesn’t have a stable mom figure in her life, and perhaps I flatter myself by thinking that sewing for her is an act of care that means something to her.
I’ve repaired the mask several times already (like I said, I’m not an expert at sewing.) I was looking for more of the fabric and it’s sold out everywhere in our metro area. I even got on eBay and Google to see if I could find more anywhere with no luck. She didn’t even ask me to make more.
She also recently got her dress for the senior prom and she wants me to make a mask to match her dress. So I sent her a link to the fabric site and asked which color was closest to her dress. She said it was somewhere between two of the shades, so I ended up ordering both and will have my son take them over to her so she can choose which is a closer match.
I’m sure this is nice of me and all but I also recognize that it’s pretty over the top. I have a tendency to do this sort of thing frequently and not just about fabric. I go on serious hunting sprees to find just the right things for people. (Did I mention here how many stores I went to in search of the Easter candy everyone likes? But I ended up finding everything, even a single-origin chocolate bar because that’s Amy’s boyfriend’s favorite.)
On the one hand, maybe I’m doing it for the reward I get from finding just the right things. Or maybe I do it because I think it will really make the recipient feel special that I went to that much effort, which is what I would tell you is my reason for doing it.
I know that gift-giving is my “love language” and it’s how I feel I’m most able to express love. I also really enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Searching high and low for something specific is deeply satisfying for me.
But realizing that I take it to extremes also makes me think there must also be something deeper going on, some subconscious motivation that I don’t understand.