Speaking the Love Languages: Receiving Gifts
Let’s make something clear: someone whose primary love language is Receiving Gifts is not automatically selfish or materialistic. This is a common misconception about this love language, but remember that people who understand love through gift-giving likely also communicate their own love expressions through gifts.
Best-selling author Gary Chapman first created the love languages in his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.
He has established that real love is an intended choice, which you do to benefit someone else. Love in its authentic form is a verb rather than a noun– in other words, an action you do rather than an emotion you feel– and every individual understands and communicates love differently.
“At the heart of love is the spirit of giving,” explains Chapman, “all five love languages challenge us to give.” That said, what speakers of the Receiving Gifts love language need to understand is that “gifts are visual symbols of love.”
Is Gift-Giving A Natural & Instinctual Expression of Love?
A question Chapman poses in this chapter is whether or not there is something innate. Something “natural” humans do to convey love in the same way we begin to smile to communicate happiness long before learning how to speak.
“From early years, children are inclined to give gifts to their parents, which may be another indication that gift giving is fundamental to love.”
This would explain why my own mother insists on keeping the first wildflower I ever picked for her in a memory box, clearly labeled in a Ziploc bag.
To her, that was a significant expression of love. And to my tiny, undeveloped mind, it was probably one of the only ways I had to convey affection. No one teaches babies to bring dandelions to their parents and loved ones.
“Could it be that gift-giving is a fundamental expression of love that transcends cultural barriers?” wonders Chapman.
The practice of gift-giving has indeed existed for centuries, at least since the first Indigenous tribes began living in cooperative communities with one another. Gift-giving is a universal language that requires no literacy in the literal sense of the word. What it does require is literacy in emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
Make sure to check out: Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Gift
Gifts Have Nothing to Do with Money
“You must be thinking of someone to give [them] a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of [them]. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.”
While we may somehow be instinctively inclined to gift, well, gifts as expressions of love, many people experience anxiety over the idea of gift-giving. It is completely normal to be nervous about gift-giving.
What if the person doesn’t like your gift? What if they already have the gift you intend to give them? How will they react?
Here’s the thing: to speak this love language, you have to keep in mind that the gift itself is simply symbolic of the love that motivated it. “To the individual whose primary love language is receiving gifts,” explains Chapman, “the cost of the gift will matter little unless it is out of line with what you can afford.”
It’s the Thought That Counts
Get rid of the idea that a gift is something you go to a store to purchase and then deliver in a wrapped box. Those who communicate love through gift-giving and receiving don’t make a difference whether the gift was bought, made, or simply found, like the wildflower I mentioned earlier.
This should be good news for those of you who keep strict budgets. Chapman takes time to speak directly to those who have a tight grip around their wallets in this chapter:
“If you are a saver, you will experience emotional resistance to the idea of spending money as an expression of love. You don’t purchase things for yourself. Why should you purchase things for your spouse? But that attitude fails to recognize that you are purchasing things for yourself. By saving and investing money, you are purchasing self worth and security.”
Chapman makes a good point here; however, don’t read into the implication that gift-giving is actually something you do to benefit yourself in the long run. Chapman goes to great lengths throughout the entire rest of his book to explain that learning a new love language is something you do expressly for the benefit of someone else.
Looking at gift-giving as an “investment in your relationship,” as Chapman puts it, takes away from the overarching point of the five love languages, which is to learn to love someone in the ways that they need to be loved simply because you value them and the relationship you have with them.
Gift Ideas That Speak Volumes
Maybe you’ve been enlightened recently about your partner’s love language and are scrambling to give them something that symbolizes just how much you value them and your relationship with them.
Remember, it’s not about how much you spend. The person receiving this gift sees it as a physical embodiment of love, and the thought is what counts.
Here are some creative ideas to help you embody what’s in your heart:
1. An Everyday Treat
Next time you’re at the grocery store, find your significant other, your friend, or your child’s favorite treat, sweet or savory. They’ll appreciate that you thought of them, even during a menial task like grocery shopping.
Plus, it’s a nice surprise (and a great incentive to help) when you unpack the groceries.
You might like: Your Love Language, According to Your Zodiac Sign
2. Do Something Together
Your gift doesn’t necessarily have to be an object.
Maybe you have an event or experience in mind, and you’d like to participate with your partner. Tickets to a movie, sporting event, perhaps even packing a picnic or attending a cooking class- think of something where you can spend time together.
3. A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words
You don’t need to look far for this gift; it’s probably just a swipe away.
Printing off our digital photos is a great gift for friends, family members, or our partners. In our increasingly digital world, we often don’t get to see our photos beyond a digital grid, making a physical photograph a wonderful reminder of a memorable event or trip and also a reminder of your love for that person every time they look at it.
4. Let’s Get Cooking
Getting busy in the kitchen making your child or partner’s favorite dish means you not only had to prepare the ingredients but put the time and effort into creating something delicious just for them.
Not a chef? Even better! Learning to create their fav meal means you put even more effort into giving this gift.
Check out our Daily Life recipes, your one-stop shop for delicious, nourishing recipes for any skill level.
5. The Gift of Giving Yourself
An important dialect of the Receiving Gifts love language is the willingness to give of your Self. That is, your presence and your time.
This dialect is actually a combination of the languages of Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. All of these languages combined into one is what makes the Gift of Self so powerful.
“Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts. Your body becomes the symbol of your love. Remove the symbol, and the sense of love evaporates.”
The Gift of Self costs you absolutely nothing, monetarily. Being willing to give generously of your time and attention (and not only during times of crisis) can convey enormous quantities of love with essentially minimal effort.
Simply show up for your loved ones when they need you; even if their primary love language is not Receiving Gifts, you’ll see your relationships get stronger and stronger when you make this effort continuously.
Symbols of Love Are Priceless
Easily one of the most misunderstood love languages,
Next time you’re on an errand or a walk, keep your eyes, and your mind opens a little wider.
Consider that symbols of love can be found anywhere. Most importantly, always remember that the most valuable gift you can give is you.
Related article: Your Love Language, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type