This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Christmas is a romantic time. You go to tree lighting ceremonies and stand in line with your partner for 25 minutes for a £4 [$5] Nutella and banana crepe that some ass hole in a gray fur vest knocks into a puddle. Your house is so cold, sex feels like rubbing two frozen chicken wings together. You go to your respective family home and send them videos of your mom drunk on Bailey’s, rolling her hips to "Club Tropicana."
You will also get a lot of shitty presents from loved ones over Christmas. Aunt Linda gets you an iTunes voucher you never use because who actually knows their Apple ID? Dad gets you an unfunny expensive hardback coffee table book called Every Type of Poo. Against all recommendations, mom still goes on right ahead and buys you clothes—maybe it’s some fancy boxers, maybe it’s an All Saints dark gray v-neck, or possibly a Dorothy Perkins nylon pink peplum top—which she hands to you with half an apology. "It's not much," she says, "but I did have to bail you out of that gas bill, didn't I, love?"
But what did you expect? Your parents haven't known who you are since you went through you vegan phase. But your partner? They're supposed to get you something actually good. Shame you both definitely won't manage it. Here's what that utterly disappointing present from your boyfriend or girlfriend says about your relationship:
Theater tickets for Brecht's 'Life of Galileo' or some other play you definitely don’t understand
You don't actually like your partner. You just need someone to accompany you to the herbal gin tasting at The Shard hotel in London; someone to sit with in an igloo-shaped pod while you #wintertime on Instagram; someone to try the authentic Serrano ham you read about in Time Out; someone to go to the gothic yoga class; someone to go ton a safari-themed silent rave where you pretend to ironically like " Mr. Brightside" (you actually think it's a solid piece of songwriting).
Your partner exists because you can't bear to be alone. Your greatest fear is hearing those voices that seep into your brain late at night, laughing at how you pay for a WeWork space but do nothing but answer emails; at how you think putting ghee in your coffee makes you more productive; at how you call yourself a "creative." Being with someone is worth it, if only to silence the self-hatred.
The end comes after a planned trip to a little Airbnb in the Welsh valleys. With nothing to do but climb those green hills, you realize you severely dislike each other. Alone in the cold breeze with not even an independent movie theater to hide in, you must accept: It is over.
A book they actually want (maybe it’s a Noma cookbook for your "foodie" girlfriend who likes slow-cooking lamb on rosewood sticks, or a Haruki Murakami book for your boyfriend who's always watching Terrace House)
You know each other, do you? You care for each other's opinions? You make me sick. You go to parties just to make out in the corner, using so much tongue you make a schmuk-schmuk sound like you’re whisking pancake batter. In festival crowds, one forms a protective shield around the other as though they’re so delicate a bit of shoving might dissolve their bones. When you answer their phone calls your voice changes like you're talking to a cat: "Oh hey, my little fruit cup."
You'll never break up. Instead, you'll get so lost within each other's assholes—your post-relationship lack of friends meaning no one will come to pry you out of the intestinal wall you're lodged in—that you will simply suffocate inside each other.
A J. Cole Vinyl
Your boyfriend is basically Jameela Jamil, but instead of posting selfies with a copy of We Should All Be Feminists and trolling weight loss tea and Photoshop, he's ranting about capitalism. Largely, he's not wrong, but do I need to know that the cookies I'm eating are a product of surplus labor value? It’s his fault you are—quietly, internally—becoming a raging conservative.
A butt plug with a rabbit's tail on the end, a mouth restraint, and a leather ball gag
How long before you tell them you just want to be face down in a pillow when you’re banging? You love a bit of lazy missionary. That monotonous slapping of skin is basically all you need (maybe, at a push, also someone to occasionally say, "Yeah, like that"). BDSM or S&M is something you pretended to be into to compensate for your lack of personality. Do you remember that time they stuffed a sock they'd been wearing all day into your mouth and you didn't say no because the lie has gone on too long?
I bet you can't wait for Christmas day, when she'll want to try all these presents out! Fingers crossed she doesn’t buy a remote control cock ring and persuade you to put it on under the table again.
Will convince you it's OK that he's always got girls in harem pants sitting on his knee. You leave him when you realize monogamy is indeed a construct, one you feel quite comfortable taking part in. Spotting the pubic hair of the other girl he's sleeping with resting on the toilet bowl was the last straw.
Some beige Louboutins and a Hotel Chocolat selection box
Your girlfriend's dad is terrifying. He's rich because he did plumbing work on some rich athlete's toilet, and he’s always threatening to cut your dick off, mush it up in a food processor, and feed it to you through a beer bong if you dare hurt little Sasha. Funny, because between mouthfuls of brunch, Mike's regularly calling his wife "a silly tart." You love your girlfriend, though. She’s worth it. You sit and wait for her on that big bench outside the Topshop changing rooms. You take pictures of her in her burgundy velour Miss Pap tracksuit next to your neighbor's white Jeep. She always smells of Thierry Mugler Alien perfume.
She dumps you to get into a reality show, so you sell a story to the Daily Mail. The headline runs: "Dumped Estate Agent Breaks His Silence on Sasha McCoy and Claims 'She Wants Fame.'" You wake up one night. Mike is banging at your door. He looks angry.
Cherry-flavored Absolut Vodka
You met in your college dorm. Your boyfriend is the sort of guy who loves jokes about jizzing. You break up when you move to London and he stays in your college town, trying to get freshmen to listen to that story about the time Tommo was shitting and throwing up at the same time.
Lush Bath Bomb
Wow! You really are that shit! Luckily, your partner is just as clueless as you, so they'll think a powdery, sweet-smelling rock is a good present too. You both started driving at age 16 and passed the test immediately. You're upset Friends has been taken off Netflix, and the best night of your lives was when you went to Olly Murs' Never Been Better tour. You always post pictures of the food he makes you—despite it always being a dried-out roast chicken and soggy carrots—captioned #boydonegood. You will never break up. This is not something to celebrate.
You've been together for long enough now that watching a sex scene makes you both squirm internally because you're equally aware you haven't fucked for months. Your anal beads are buried under bank statements, gathering a light film of dust. You argue when she uses some of your Berry Pie vape juice or takes your special Tupperware to work. You stay together for the halved rent.
Something Practical Like an Electric Razor
Your boyfriend is incapable. He can’t even make mashed potatoes without checking a Food Network recipe. He laughed at that YouTube video of a guy squirting water on strangers who thought they were being acid-attacked. He thinks putting paprika on chicken makes him Marco Pierre White and constantly recommends it to people. You buy him a Christmas present to try help him mature. He continues to Dutch Oven you until you leave him for a 55-year-old CEO sugar daddy you found on Seeking Arrangement.
A White Fluffy Pomeranian
Your boyfriend is always showing you videos of men racing down suburban streets in shopping carts, or soldiers being greeted by their dogs after coming back from Iraq. He’s gagging to go viral, so he buys you a puppy in order to film a reaction video.
Honestly, you just wanted some Fenty underwear and a Lime Crime palette. You leave him and the dog. He becomes one of those confusingly stacked men you see walking ultra femme animals in the park.
Off White Belt
You met them when Obey was cool. They had so much branded clothing on they looked like a motorway sign. You spend your evenings trying to contextualize and then legitimize the crimes of various SoundCloud rappers: "His music is so dark; it’s clear he was in a bad place;" "Bowie slept with young women too;" "You can separate the art from the person." You take pictures of each other on public transport with the Hugi app and you back each other when you get into arguments on The Basement Facebook group.
Sadly, you never have sex because your mom says they have to sleep in the spare room when they come over. After three months you catch them Snapchatting their new Yeezys to someone called Pippa or Annabel, and that’s when you know it's over. You block him on all social media and write a long post with the sign off "thank u, next."
Gets you a book you're clearly not interested in, like Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist or Something from Verso about Economics
When you got together she liked that you were a bartender. She liked that you gave her friends lines of coke at the pub on a Thursday. She liked taking your Champion T-shirts and sending you pictures of her wearing both them and thick white sport socks covered in weed leaves.
But lately, that guy she goes to protests with—you know, Raphael; the one who wears a little mustard yellow hat, black turtlenecks and Dr. Martens—he's coming around a lot. You can’t watch Match of the Day because here talking about municipalism. She buys you a Gramsci book, but the last thing you read was the Alex Rider series. After two weeks she's off with Captain Douche flitting around eastern Europe, to join some comrades in the revolution, which—regrettably—will not involve you.
If you got the Christmas gift wrong, you would have to endure three hours of, "But I just don’t get what was going through your mind?" So you nail it, not out of love but fear. Your girlfriend is always wearing white Stan Smiths, gray cashmere and a look that says, "I studied fashion merchandising and now I think I can shout at Pret a Manger staff for giving me soy milk instead of oat milk." At some point, she will dump you and move to Paris.
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