"... she buys the gift so that at least for a short while she doesn't get beat up. That is a 'selfish' reason. But is that a 'good' reason to give? What is the standard? "That does not describe the dynamics of an abusive relationship. If she thought in those terms, she would leave. She stays in the relationship because she tells herself (a) she doesn't deserve any better (won't find better... was even worse when he found her ... etc.) and that (b) the beatings are exceptions -- he doesn't mean it; it was her fault; he really loves her; etc. However irrrational all of that is -- and it is -- she still buys the present because she "loves" him, which is a "selfish" response. Given that we cannot get into her head and fix her relationship, I'd leave it at that.
I think when I give a gift I should explictly recognize the trading of the values involved and it must be consistent with the rest of my system of values. It isn't sufficient to say 'it makes me feel good.' In many cases this recognition is nearly automatic, say when I present my five year old nephew with a new educational toy. I agree with that 100%. If your conscious values are rational, then your automatic responses are valid. Conversely, by observing your own automatic responses, you can check your choices. "Value for value" defines gift-giving for me, as I am sure it probably does for most the people signed on here.
Now, how about receiving gifts? I have received really neat gifts from women who love me. If one of them were my wife, life would be ideal. After 27 years, I am still something of a mystery to the Mrs. I have to confess on the same score that my brother nails me every year with something neat for Christmas, and mostly, I am challenged to do the same, because I see him as being so totally self-sufficient that he has everything he needs. I can only send him gold coins or bars so many years in a row. After a run of that, it is sort of like putting cash in a holder card. This year, I got him dental picks. At the last Michigan State Numismatic Society convention, one of our dealers is a retired dentist. Amid the "wildcat banknotes" he sells old picks. I looked at one and it was Cleve-Dent, where Mom had worked for many years while we were growing up. So, I got six and I will send them to my brother for Christmas.