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Ah, gift-giving. It's one of the five love languages and not actually just a sneaky way to get that bracelet you've been eyeing for a while. And yet, it is still so often misunderstood, with many disregarding it as frivolous or even shallow.
After all, why would somebody need you to physically purchase an item n order for them to feel appreciated? But that's not at all the motivation behind gift-giving as a love language.
In truth, gift-giving serves so many different purposes and is so deeply misunderstood. Providing personalised gifts and thoughtful sentiments to people we love dearly is a wonderful way to reinforce the bond you already have.
A gift can say "I'm sorry", it can say "I'm thankful for you", or it can simply be the acknowledgment of a milestone and thus, a form of saying "I'm proud of you".
The key to gift-giving as a form of supporting healthy relationships is to ensure that your gifts are always genuine and from the heart, rather than simply being a bandaid to right any past wrongs or to pave over unspoken feelings.
The best gifts are actually those that help express and celebrate feelings. So with these ideas in place, let's take a deep dive into exactly why giving is the key to maintaining strong and healthy relationships in life.
We're arguing that giving leads to strong and healthy relationships, but what does it actually mean to in fact have a healthy relationship?
Although it's likely that many people would have different definitions, there are certain qualities that are sure to overlap. One of these is emotional support; we all find ourselves in periods of doubt and uncertainty, so having somebody there to help carry the load during difficult times can make such a difference to our mental health.
But, how exactly does a partner do that? The truth is there are a variety of different ways, with gift-giving often providing a strong foundation.
When your partner is going through a difficult time, making little gestures to represent your support is essential. After all, you yourself may understand that you love them and will be there, but humans have not yet evolved to be mind readers.
As a result, some tangible gestures here and there are always likely to be highly appreciated. And these gestures could be virtually anything, from bringing them flowers after a difficult day, or even something more casual like buying them their favourite takeaway without them needing to mention it.
A gift needn't be a large and showy trinket. In fact, sometimes it might just be a packet of nuggets you know they've been craving. In essence, making little gestures can be seen as the cross-section between gift-giving and acts of service, two of the five love languages.
Another cross-section that's well worth exploring is the meeting point of gift-giving and quality time as a love language. It's no secret that gifts don't have to be material items. In fact, there is such a thing as experiential gifts.
It's also no secret that one element that's also commonly associated with healthy relationships is shared interests. A way for both of you to enjoy your relationship and simultaneously feel appreciated is to buy items in relation to that interest.
Maybe it's two tickets to see a sports team or band you both like, or cinema tickets to catch a film you both adore. These simple gestures are something you can both bond over whilst also letting the other person know you love them, and that you're prioritising quality time for them in the form of this experiential gift.
It's important to note that gift-giving can also include the other two love languages we haven't explored in-depth here. For instance, a gift that honours the love language of words of affirmation could be a locket with an engraved, loving message.
And as for physical touch as a love language, there's a great number of gift ideas out there that'll provide you and your partner with plenty of opportunities to get nice and cosy with each other, including a weekend away, or perhaps even a day at your local spa.
When we hear the word "relationship", we often think firstly of romantic partnerships above anything else. Romantic relationships are prioritised as the most important kind of relationship in society, but let us not forget about the relationships we share with our friends and family.
Our friends are the people that we pick as our companions through life, the ones that choose to be there and share in our happiness, heartache and all the little messy moments in between. With all this considered, it makes sense to have little physical sentiments to commemorate all of the magic moments that friends share.
The thing with the relationships we share with our friends, is there are fewer reasons or opportunities to give each other gifts. Sure, there's a birthday, but that is open season for other friends, family and romantic partners to dote on your friend with their own gifts. And whilst anniversaries are a recognised event for couples to celebrate, friendships rarely get the same recognition.
It's important not to take these special bonds for granted, but as we tend to present gifts to friends less than romantic partners, this can lead to them perhaps feeling underappreciated or undervalued. Giving to sustain these friendships is deceptively simple.
Perhaps your friend is under the pump at university or work, so why not send their favourite treat to let them know you're thinking of them? If a friend has shown exceeding enthusiasm about something they enjoyed, why not purchase something related to that interest for them?
Normally this point would be followed with "for their birthday" or perhaps even "as a holiday gift" however, sometimes we honestly don't need an excuse to purchase something for our friends. Sometimes the best gifts are those that are given simply to show that we care.
The thing with giving is that nobody ever said it had to be a gift. There are many things we as people have to give that don't involve spending a single cent, and yet it can make just as much if not more of a difference to our most special relationships.
Sometimes this could be giving the gift of time to listen to our loved ones. Yes, this gift could be given during times of need, but it could also just be to hear about their day. After all, we shouldn't simply be paying attention when the going gets tough.
We can be giving our support to our partner or our friend when they ask us for it. We could even be giving our thoughts on a complex situation. In essence, giving is all about providing love or emotional support.
Sometimes the act of giving can be through giving a material gift that is representative of that, and sometimes it can simply be through giving something of ourselves, so that our loved ones can feel just as loved as they make us feel.
The short and long of it is that sometimes your gifts can easily be something silly and inconsequential too. It doesn't have to be a piece of jewellery nor a lavish present, nor even an experience, as even a small trinket or little object that would mean nothing to anybody else can still mean something to the two of you and considers your own primary love languages. That feeling of togetherness is really what grows an unbreakable bond.
Giving can say many things, in fact, it is a great medium for those who have trouble expressing their feelings. Sometimes we purchase something we know our loved one has been eyeing because we want them to know we listen.
And sometimes we give someone special our attention because we want them to know that they are worth it. So, as long as you give mindfully, sincerely, and generously, both your romantic and platonic relationships will likely continue to grow and prosper.