When I first heard about the five love languages, I thought the entire concept was bullshit. Like, how can your own unique way of loving someone be shoved into one of five categories? However, the older I get, the more I learn about myself through my relationships and connections to other people. The more I learn, the more I have to admit that my experiences tend to coincide with the theory of the five love languages, which tell you not only how you need to be loved, but also how you tend to show love to others.
These five languages include physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and giving or receiving gifts. With the language of physical touch, your love tends to manifest in tactile forms, such as hugs, back rubs, hand-holding, and physical intimacy. If your love language is words of affirmation, you tend to love and need to be loved in the form of sticky note I Love Yous, well-constructed playlists, verbal compliments, and expressions of appreciation. If your love language comes in the form of sharing quality time, this means that you crave increments of time with your partner’s uninterrupted attention, free of distractions and phone usage, with just the two of you being completely present with each other in the moment. If your love manifests in the form of acts of service, this means actions carry more weight than words, and even fixing small things or running errands for each other is the most effective way to win your heart. The final theorized love language is the act of giving or receiving gifts, which means physical trinkets or souvenirs serve as the best form of evidence of love between you and another person. Personally, I believe this last one to be my love language.
When gift giving and receiving is your love language, it is easy to find yourself labeled as materialistic by the ones who don’t understand you. When I say that gift giving and receiving is my love language, I’m not talking about cars and diamond rings. I once had someone give me a pen that he had gotten from his orthodontist’s office, and it meant a lot to me to know that I crossed his mind at 7 in the morning while he was somewhere he didn’t necessarily want to be. I’ve had men give me their shirts, and I kept them as souvenirs of moments in time when people cared about me. The gifts don’t have to be expensive; they just have to come from a place of pure intentions, and not be given as an afterthought. These physical reminders of people who cared about me are often the one thing that keeps me going on days when I don’t want to get out of bed.
This form of love isn’t just limited to romantic relationships. I have often expressed myself through gift giving toward friends, as well. From a young age, I was always very generous, and often gave away things that I shouldn’t have, to the people I really cared about. Whether it be birthday money, my favorite stuffed animals, or my most cherished books and CDs, I always wanted the ones I loved to have a piece of me that they could carry with them. As I got older, my love was often given in the form of written poetry or gestures of appreciation. The words mattered, but I tended to emphasize on the idea of giving the physical gift of a hand-written letter, rather than a digital text or email. I also tend to show love to the people who matter to me with gifts in the physical form of my own original artwork.
I have tried to analyze the psychological reasoning behind why I think gift giving and receiving has become my love language. I have come to believe that the reason why it is a big deal to me is because I have lost so many people from a young age, and now, the gifts that they gave me are all that I have left of them. After losing so many people, you quickly learn that everyone is temporary, whether they want to be or not. Anything could happen to either of you, and I guess I find a sense of security in knowing that I and the ones I love are all surrounded by physical representations of our love and appreciation for each other, even if the day comes when we are no longer physically present in each other’s lives.
Each love language has a negative stereotype or assumption assigned to it. Please try to look past that, and truly understand the ones you are trying to love are also trying to love you. When you meet someone whose love language is gift giving and receiving, please don’t write them off as materialistic. Most of us have simply gone through some events in our lives that have shaped us to be who we are, and to give or receive love in the way that we do.
© Gina Clingan 2020