Informant Data: The informant is in her late 40’s, Caucasian and self-identifies strongly with Judaism. She is married with two daughters, and has a career as a Family Mental Health Therapist.
Item: The folk-saying that you should never buy their husband or boyfriend new shoes as a gift, because they will walk out of your life with them. The following quotations are direct transcriptions of my dialogue with the informant, while the additional information provided is paraphrased.
Contextual Data: My informant says that she first heard this in the beginning of her therapy practice, and has since had several women mention it since. “As a therapist, if a woman says this to me it tells me several things. They are showcasing an external locus of control; they think they are not in control of their relationship.” While this may cause anxiety and feelings of helplessness, which often is the origin of folk-beliefs and rituals (adhered to in attempt to avoid some assumed fate), they are also divorcing themselves from blame, a protective strategy so that if their significant other were to leave them, the blame lies with the circumstances and on anything else—besides themselves. “Something as insignificant as shoes, just because it is situated within a saying that’s catchy and that indicates a feared consequence beyond one’s control; it will make women stop and think to avoid such a thing, just in case.” But this type of thinking, especially in one’s significant relationships, “is unhealthy and eliminates one’s own voice.” My informant clearly saw no validity in the belief. This is an example of folk-speech that can be employed as a folk-belief. Someone may hear this saying, and add it to their collection of life guidelines. Additionally, its classification as a proverb is debatable, because it is far from a generally accepted truth; moreover, it reflects the fear of abandonment that plagues many individuals in committed relationships.