Michael Dresser

Wheel Of Consent



This Christmas – the season of gifting, and being gifted – has got me thinking a lot about the nature of giving and receiving.

It can be such a mine-field of expectations – often we make internal assumptions which are either unrealistic or just plain wrong!

Gift envy

I really noticed this when my partner and I exchanged gifts this year. Often we don’t make a big deal about presents, but we’ll usually get each other a little something at least.

This year he dumbfounded me by presenting me with a high-price concert ticket for one of my favourite artists, in a unique and stunning venue (Kylie at Edinburgh Castle if you’re wondering!). Once I’d got over my absolute and utter delight, I noticed my heart sink a little – his gift was in another league entirely from the cheap, quirky kitchen implement I’d got for him!

And yet his reaction to the dinky nutmeg grater was almost as exuberant as mine to the tickets – because it was something he’d wanted for a while and he gets as excited about cooking as I do about pop music!

Both of us got a huge amount of joy not only from being given something that was truly desired and unique, but also from being able to give a gift that we knew the other truly wanted – and this was where the real value was, not in the cost or perceived ‘status’ of the gift.

Letting go of the expectations

This experience reminded me that it’s only in the last few years that my partner and I have really started to get the hang of the notion that just because one of us does something (or ‘gifts’ something) for the other it doesn’t mean there’s any requirement for the recipient to reciprocate.

It’s taken a long time to learn to let go of this myth of obligation, and learn to relax into fully receiving each offering on its own terms.  And even though we work hard at it, it’s amazing how easy it can be to slip back into old self-judgements when receiving a gift that’s especially special!

Just because he’s given me something amazing doesn’t mean I have to try and second guess myself in order to give something of matching value. Just because I’ve given him something he wants doesn’t mean he even needs to give me anything at all in return!

It’s quite a radical thought!

But I trust him to ask me if there’s something he really wants from me. And, of course, if I’m willing to, there’s nothing to stop me asking if there’s anything he wants!

Sometimes it’s just nice to bask in the glow of getting something without any strings attached!

If you’d like to get better at giving and receiving why not make a New Year’s resolution to contact me and learn some tools!

The quadrants

Each quadrant in the Wheel Of Consent creates a different experience and teaches you something different about yourself. Learn more about each one:


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