With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we may feel the pressure to pick out the “perfect gift” for our loved ones. I usually suggest an experience rather than a tangible item, as research has shown that experiences make people happier than material goods (Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003). Not only do experiences require more thought, demonstrating the time you took to pick out a beloved present, but they allow us to create joint memories and share something that either we or our partners hold dear. For example, a person who loves ice skating may take great pride in teaching his/her partner how to skate. Cuddling up with a cup of hot chocolate afterwards is another nice perk.

But what about those of us who may want to give something other than an experience? How else might we be able to meet our partner’s needs and show that we care?

The Five Love Languages

I’d like to give some suggestions by illustrating Dr. Dan Chapman’s love languages. Dr. Chapman came up with five types of love people may need fulfilled in order to feel loved. It is important to note that everyone’s needs vary and your love language may differ from your partners. Therefore, in order to meet your partner’s needs, it is important to identify his/her proper love language.

1. Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation involve sending encouraging messages to our partners such as “I love you, because of how compassionate you are with animals.”

If this is your partner’s love language, take some time to write a heartfelt and personal card to your significant other, telling him/her exactly what he/she means to you. If you are skilled in the literary domain, try your hand at creating a poem. Remember, it’s the genuineness of your words that count.

2. Quality Time

Quality time involves time spent together and giving your partner your undivided attention.

If this is your partner’s love language, you may want to take my earlier suggestion of planning a tailored experience based on his/her interests. Take him/her to a cooking class, wine tasting, Broadway show or trip to the aquarium. Really think about what activities your partner likes and make sure to plan one that allows you to join in on the experience.

3. Receiving Gifts

Receiving gifts involves giving physical tokens of appreciation and affection.

If this is your partner’s love language, you want to give him/her something tangible. Don’t go for the teddy bear and box of chocolates if this isn’t something that interests your partner. Think about what he/she likes and/or needs. This love language should not be confused with materialism, because the price is not important, rather the thought behind the gift is what matters.

4. Acts of Service

Acts of service involves helping your partner with tasks.

If this is your partner’s love language, you may want to give him/her a break and offer to help with his/her responsibilities. You may want to offer to run errands for your partner, walk his/her dog for a week or simply surprise him/her by cleaning the house. This will allow your partner to use the time that was devoted to the task for some rest and relaxation.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch involves creating closeness.

If this is your partner’s love language, you may want to plan something special for him/her like a foot rub or a massage. Creating a close and loving connection is what is important here.

As you think about the love language your partner employs and the gift that you are going to give him/her, remember Valentine’s Day is just one day. Rather than focusing on your significant other’s needs and planning the perfect way to meet them on February 14th, it is best if we try to meet them each and every day, so we can express our love and strengthen our relationship.

You may also be interested in Using The 5 Love Languages For Online Dating



Chapman, G. D. (2010). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts.  Chicago: Northfield Publishing.

Van Boven L., & Gilovich, T. (2003). To do or to have? That is the question. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(6), 1193-1202.

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