It’s the time of year where all of us are focusing on finding the right gift for someone special, as Valentine’s Day approaches. Naturally, we want the gift to be special but how can we avoid falling into the trap of cliches and uninspired presents.
A special gift usually indicates to the receiver that some thought has been put into it, that there is a connection between the two. It tells the person how well you know them, and in doing so, also defines your relationship.
But how can we make a gift even more special and truly understand the needs and wants of our partner?
What are the 5 Love Languages?
It all comes down to knowing your partner’s love language. There are 5 lof them–Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Gifts– and they each serve as a blueprint for emotional intimacy between you and your partner.
“Knowing which “language” you speak, which actions you interpret as love, is essential to navigating and maintaining security in your relationship,” said Caitlin Killoren, a relationship coach at Relish.
First put forward by author Gary Chapman in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, the five love languages was developed from his years as a marriage counsellor. Chapman kept recognizing a recurring pattern between spouses:
“One spouse would say something like, ‘I feel like he doesn’t love me. The other would protest, ‘I don’t know what else to do! I’m doing everything I should be doing.’”
When he asked the couples what each spouse could do to improve the relationship, Chapman determined that the answers fell into five different categories, now known as the love languages.
The five love languages are highly useful to know in order to optimize a connection and love between partners. “When you know someone’s love language, and are able to speak that language, they feel cared for and appreciated,” said Jess McCann, author of “Cursed? Why you still don’t have the relationship you want and the 5 Cures that can change your love life?.
Consequently, you can also end up “spinning your wheels” trying to let someone know how you feel through a way that doesn’t resonate with them. Furthermore, knowing how someone feels loved is the key to good gift-giving!
If you know your partner is especially happy when spending quality time with you, then spending large amounts money on a gift won’t be as meaningful as aN afternoon at the beach or a picnic in the park would.
Many of us have one dominant and recognizable love language. Most people fall under the “Words of Affirmation” category.However, we can also have secondary languages as well. It is possible to learn your love language by taking the various quizzes on The Five Love Languages website.
1. Acts of Service
Individuals who fall under this category better respond to acts of service from their partner. Therefore, figuring out their needs and what they need help in is the best way to go. On the other hand, as Oprah Magazine outlines, “ambivalence or a lack of support are more damaging than anything else.”
What would be helpful to your partner? Do they need their car cleaned? Do they need a night off from cooking? What area of their life is the most chaotic and busy? You can usually find a good gift assisting in that place.
“On Valentine’s Day, wake up early. Make coffee and bring it to your partner in bed. Fold a load of laundry. Pick up the living room. Scramble some eggs, make them a smoothie. Save your money on the expensive reservations – all your partner wants is for you to demonstrate to them how much they mean to you,” said Killoren.
2. Words of Affirmation
While everyone enjoys a good word, some of us need more affirmation than others. Partners who respond to words of affirmation would appreciate being told, more or less explicitly, that they are valued or appreciated. People who favor words of affirmation will be particularly affected by insults.
How often do you tell your husband you love and appreciate him? When was the last time you told your wife you liked her outfit or that she looked nice?
For those who need words of affirmation, their absence can lead to feelings of resentment. While you may be thinking or feeling good thoughts about your spouse, try verbalizing them and see the power of your words.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, licensed clinical professional counselor
Write your partner a love letter in lieu of a gift on Valentine’s Day, or make sure to attach one with your gift.
“Leave it somewhere they’ll find: their coat pocket or the driver’s seat of their car,” said Killoren. “Tell them what you remember about the beginning of your relationship, about how much you both have grown since you’ve been a couple. Tell them how much you love them and what you admire about them.”
The more detailed, the better. While a more substantial gift can definitely please your partner, having an expression of your love and appreciation attached to it would definitely render it truly special.
3. Physical Touch
Most relationships involve physical touch, whether platonic or not. Of course, a spouse who favors and needs physical touch, is going to want as much intimacy as possible.
Helping to fulfill his/her need for physical touch can also include non-sexual touches which may ease the pressure off you if you are not as sexual of a person.
The most romantic thing you could give your partner on Valentine’s Day would be a morning cuddle, first thing when you wake up. Alternatively, a massage will be well received for those who respond to physical touch.
You can convey your affection through your fingertips, and nothing else, no matter how expensive or thoughtful, will matter to your partner.
While the “Acts of Service” category is all about anticipating your partner’s needs, this one is more about appreciating them through giving them gifts. These are not something that they need, but more of a special thought on your part.
Additionally, while most people understand gifts as physical items, they don’t necessarily have to be. Indeed, they can be “tangible and intangible items that make you feel appreciated or noticed,” such as “your partner’s concert.”
Gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money, unless you want them too of course. Get your partner’s car washed, pick up their favorite pastries, buy them tickets to see their favorite band.
“They’ll appreciate because they feel loved when they receive gifts, but also because research suggests we prefer gifts that are unexpected,” said Killoren.
5. Quality Time
People who favor quality time would prefer “engaging in an activity together, particularly one you both enjoy, like a walk after dinner” or something else that would involve time spent together.
A good gift for someone with this love language…tickets to an event! Perhaps a concert, or show where you spend time together but are also enjoying something extra special.
Glamping is another great gift for someone whose love language is quality time. There is nothing more meaningful and romantic than whisking your partner away on a getaway in nature to spend incredible quality time together. From enjoying excursions to spa services, there is a glamping site perfect for every couple who just wants to spend uninterrupted time together.
You can do anything you want on Valentine’s Day – all that matters to your partner is that you do it together. “
“If you go out to dinner, linger after your decaf coffees and just talk until the waiter asks you to leave. Go see a classic movie and discuss it afterwards. Visit an art gallery, or stay in,” said Killoren.
As long as you’re together, they’re happy.
Beyond Valentine’s Day
Figuring out our own love language should be a priority for us all. After all, once we understand what we desire and respond to, it enables us to set the standards of our relationships with others. It can also help us in making them understand how to navigate a relationship with us. Therefore, this could prevent conflicts from arising.
While it may take some introspection and some time to figure out, it will eventually be beneficial to your current and future relationships with romantic partners but also with friends and family members.
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