According to the best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts there are five different ways in which people like to give and receive affection towards their loved ones. Problems arise in relationships when we don’t realize that people have these different ways of giving love. One person may feel unloved if their partner doesn’t tell them explicitly about their feelings every day while another could never hear “I love you” but be totally blissful as long as they spend hours together watching Netflix every week. If you or your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Receiving gifts seems like a shallow love language because we’re taught that it’s the thought that counts. In reality it is the thought that counts but the physical object is a reminder of that thought each and every time we gaze upon it. We don’t love getting gifts because we love thing things, we love getting gifts because we love knowing that our beloved is thinking about us.
2. No one’s love language is “better” or “more” meaningful. These are simply the way we most feel loved.
3. Love languages are about security. Whatever your love language is — that’s how you feel secure in your partner’s love. Gifts are a very easy way to visualize this. When you see the gift, you don’t see a physical object: you see the time someone spent picking it out for you, the money they earned to buy it, the thoughtfulness of them wanting to see you react to it.
4. It’s not that you need to spend a lot of money in order to make your ‘receiving gifts’ partner feel loved — hand made gifts can be just as (or more) meaningful than store bought ones. The point is that you cared enough to give them a token of your love.
5. For special occasions, remember that this is your partner’s preferred method of celebrating. No matter what else you do, include a gift as part of the celebration.
6. Consider starting a gift-giving “inside joke” between the two of you. Say, every time you travel somewhere without your partner, you bring them back a silly coffee mug or t-shirt — or send them a postcard from the road.
7. Never buy them generic, store bought crap. If it’s Valentine’s Day, don’t wander into the grocery store and buy them whatever is on display. Your loved one doesn’t want just any gift, they want one that reminds you of them.
8. One of the best things you can do for the health of your relationship is to surprise your partner with little trinkets that say “I’m thinking about you” for no reason. If they’re about to leave on a business trip, sneak their favorite snack into their bag beforehand. If you have a funny meme you love sending each other, print one out and put it on their desk in a frame.
9. One of the most disheartening things in the world can be getting a gift someone gave you because they were obligated to, but which shows they either don’t know or care about the recipient very much at all.
10. If the thought of gift-giving makes you feel uncomfortable, start small. Bring your partner their favorite food when they’ve had a bad day, or a beautiful shell you found on the beach. Seeing them feel flattered by inexpensive gifts can help you understand the true root of whey they like receiving them.
11. Help your partner find a way to display gifts in their home or office. They are pack rats and will not want to discard old gifts, even if they are in a box somewhere. Having a special place to look at gifts from their loved ones will bring happiness to your partner every day.