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You may have already heard of The 5 Love Languages, a book by Gary Chapman, which explains the five main ways people give and receive love. The term love, in this context, isn’t limited to romance – it can extend to friendship, family and even work.
The list includes the following core ‘love languages’:
- WORDS OF AFFIRMATION (e.g. being told how much you are loved or appreciated)
- ACTS OF SERVICE (e.g. mowing the lawn or cooking breakfast)
- QUALITY TIME (e.g. spending a fun day together)
- PHYSICAL TOUCH (e.g. massage, hugs and cuddles)
- GIFTS (e.g. receiving an unexpected present).
When it comes to gifts, particularly within the context of a relationship people have mixed feelings, as a relationship based on the exchange of gifts could seem like a transactional relationship, where two people were trading, indeed there’s the stereotypical dynamic of the wealthy gift giver and the gold digger we all wish to avoid.
That said, there is an art to giving gifts. If you think about it, the time most people light up is when they are the one doing the giving, as there’s a sense of pride and contentment that comes from making others happy, and gifts certainly don’t have to be expensive in order to be meaningful.
Picture a parent receiving a mud pie from their child, for instance, or a partner receiving freshly picked flowers from the countryside. Gifts are often about intent rather than material cost.
Also, gifts don’t have to be physical things, they can also be experiences. In fact, if the recipient’s love language is quality time; meaning the way they give and receive love is to do something with a person that allows them to experience quality time together, what better way to make this person feel fulfilled than by organizing a fun day out.
In terms of experiences, again, they don’t have to be really fancy and overcomplicated. There’s a tendency to feel like we need to do more and more, go bigger and bigger, with extreme events such as race car driving, white water rafting or lavish pamper days, when in reality you could simply head to The Ticket Merchant and pick up some tickets for a concert or sporting event you know they’ll love.
The main difference between gifts and experiences is that gifts are tangible items that act as a physical representation of your care and interest in a person; whereas experiences, whilst fleeting, create special memories that can be treasured for a lifetime.
If you really want to master the art of giving then the first step is to determine what the intended recipient’s love language is; for instance, if they give and receive love via acts of service then sneaking to their house and mowing their lawn would be well received, whereas for someone that gave and received love through physical touch, you mowing their lawn wouldn’t fulfil them – yet a massage, or even bringing over a movie and cuddling up on the sofa together with some popcorn would tick their boxes.
In summary, we all have different ways of giving and receiving love. If you want to master the art of gift giving then you’ll need to become emotionally aware of the recipient’s love language.
I love giving gifts – all the time! What about you? Are you a gift giver?