Of the five different love languages, gift-giving is the one with the most misconceptions. Many people assume that those who give and receive love in this way must be superficial and lack depth, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s everything you need to know about the gift-giving love language, from what it means to how it informs your relationships.
What is the gift-giving love language?
This love language is actually about more than giving gifts — it’s about receiving them too. Gary Chapman’s 1992 book, “The Five Love Languages: How To Express Heartfelt Commitment To Your Mate” explains that the gift-giving love language centers on sharing and showing affection via presents, be they smaller, inexpensive tokens or larger and more expensive offerings.
Those who experience love in this way feel most comfortable with tangible items to represent their feelings. As licensed mental health counselor and relationship coach Mark Williams tells verywell mind, these gifts come in all shapes and sizes but essentially all represent the same idea. “Whether that item is a tiny trinket from a thrift store or a 50-foot sailboat is inconsequential. Either convey the same message: I was thinking about you when I saw this. You’re always on my mind,” he explains.
Misconceptions about this love language
- They’re shallow. When someone prefers to give and receive affection via gifts, it’s easy to assume that the person must be shallow. If they weren’t, they would seek more traditionally meaningful things like emotional closeness, right? Not necessarily. Those with the gift-giving love language, as Williams points out, are often exceptionally sentimental and the objects they give or receive are just physical tokens of their feelings.
- They’re greedy. It’s not all about how much stuff someone with this love language can get a partner to give them. They’re not trying to amass endless items for the sake of having them. The presents they give to partners or receive from them should be thoughtful and intentional and not done in excess.
- It’s all about big-ticket, extravagant items. A homemade card or even a donut from their favorite shop means just as much to someone with the gift-giving love language as an expensive purse or overseas vacation. Because the offerings are a representation of an intense sentimental feeling, what the items are doesn’t matter as much as the emotion behind them.
- It’s all taking and very little giving. Not true at all. The love language is about gift-giving as much as it is about receiving. While they feel most cherished and adored via physical gifts, they also express their own adoration in the same way.
How to recognize if your partner uses this love language
- They love to present you with little tokens of their affection to show they care. While they have no problem telling you they love you, they’re less likely to speak the words than they are to make or buy you something they think you’ll really like.
- They’re happiest when you surprise them with a gift. It doesn’t matter what it is, either. If their reaction is one of being overjoyed and effusively thankful, chances are this is their love language.
- They put time and effort into the presents they pick for you and other people in their lives. They don’t just thoughtlessly pick something up at the store to get it over with. Instead, they agonize over the tiniest details of the gifts they choose to give. They want them to be perfect and to convey the meaning with which they’re being presented. Not just any little thing will do.
- They never forget birthdays, anniversaries, or other special events. In fact, they relish them because they present opportunities to go all-out with gifts. They love spoiling their partners and being spoiled in return.
How to express affection to someone with gift-giving love language
- Grab their favorite snacks at the grocery store. They’ll love that you thought of them — and that you remembered how obsessed they are with Teddy Grahams at the moment.
- Buy them tickets to a concert or other event they’d like to attend. Even better if you plan to go with them to share the experience.
- Give them a gift certificate for a massage or spa day. You know they deserve some relaxation, and being able to indulge in self-care is always a wonderful thing.
- Get food delivered to their place when you know they’ve had a long day at work. They’re tired and they really love Chinese food, so this is a natural choice.
- Pick them up a souvenir when you’re away on a business trip. They’ll be overjoyed that they were on your mind even while you were busy with your job.
- Give them flowers even when it’s not a special occasion. It’s a classic romantic move for a reason.
- Spend extra time choosing gifts that have special meaning to them as a person. Individualized gifts that reference something particular to your relationship or to who they are as an individual will always go over well.