It takes a lot of effort to maintain a relationship — whether with friends, family, or a partner. And regardless of tangible or intangible gestures, sometimes it can feel like you’re missing the mark. This is especially true when it comes to giving gifts.
The good news is that there’s a way to improve your gift-giving skills and adapt to all of the loved ones in your life. The trick? Embracing the magic of the 5 Love Languages — and then applying the process to the people in your life.
Step-by-Step Guide to the 5 Love Languages
There are 5 Love Languages. The concept was developed by Gary Chapman (who aptly named his book The 5 Love Languages). Determining your love language — as well as the love languages of the people in your life — is pivotal for maintaining healthy relationships. The concept is that we all love giving and receiving love in different ways, and those ways can be summed up by distinct categories.
Acts of Service
To speak this language fluently you'll need creativity and a can-do attitude.
One of the purest and most tangible love languages is Acts of Service. If one believes that "actions speak louder than words", their most primary love language is Acts of Service. Want to show someone with an Acts of Service Love Language that you care? Do something nice for them. Fill up your partner’s gas tank. Make dinner for a friend. Clean the house. Essentially, make the effort to go above and beyond to take some of the load off of their shoulders.
To speak this love language fluently you'll need to become a regular planner and scheduler.
Hanging out, date nights, and cuddling on a couch defines the Quality Time love language. If you often find your loved one being "clingy" or "asking to hang out a lot", then spending quality time together is what will feed their soul. Game nights, dinner plans, or just going on walks and catching up are natural and effective ways to spend quality time.
To speak this love language fluently you'll need to be constantly aware and put forth daily physical effort.
Physical Touch is not just a love language, its an art and takes practice to master. Loved ones that speak the love language of Physical Touch are constantly touching you. Whether holding hands, playing in your hair or just sitting a touch closer than the norm, physical touch takes a bit of practice and awareness. Touching — in any way, not purely sexually — is important to people with this love language. Hugs, holding hands, and cuddling are awesome examples of physical touch.
To speak this love language fluently you'll need to be inventive and willing to go the extra mile.
Does your loved one always give you a gift or bring you a coffee? They are showing that they love and value you. People who give gifts also like to receive them and speak this language fluently naturally, without thought. Gifts to someone that speaks this love language is everything. Show someone with this Love Language that you treasure them by giving gifts, whether big or small. Anything from a pint of their favorite ice cream to an expensive splurge will be appreciated.
Words of Affirmation
To speak this love language fluently you'll need to be expressive and willing to speak what is in your heart regularly.
One of the most recognized love languages is Words of Affirmation. While we all enjoy hearing simple compliments and being recognized for our strengths, someone who speaks the language of Words of Affirmation is likely to go a step further. Their mantra is often "say what you mean and mean what you say". People whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation feel loved, valued and appreciated when others build them up. Actively telling them that you care and that they are special will fill their “love tank.”
How Love Languages Can Help You Choose the Right Gift
Although only one Love Language involves the direct act of giving gifts, knowing someone’s Love Language allows you to get them better gifts. These gifts don’t necessarily even have to cost a lot of money. If someone’s gift is Physical Touch, you can gift them a luxury candle and a coupon for an IOU massage. If their love language is Words of Affirmation, write them a love letter or choose a plate with a saying that shares how much you appreciate them. Quality Time? Carve out a block of your schedule to hang out and bring along a cozy Harlem pillow or matching Harlem Graffiti mugs. Gifts? Surprise them with something you know they’ll love. Acts of Service? Time to make dinner! There are endless ways to give gifts to the people in your life without making a huge dent in your wallet. By adhering to the ideals of the 5 Love Languages, you can better attend to the needs of the people you care about. If all else fails, think about yourself and your Love Language — and establish in your mind the kind of gift you’d like to receive. Go forth and prosper with your gift giving!