If you ever feel like you and your partner speak totally different languages, or like they simply don't *get* you, it could be down to your love language.
According to counsellor Gary Chapman who wrote the 1992 New York Times best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts , we all speak one of five love languages, each of which describes a different way of giving and receiving love. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts and acts of service. We all have a primary love language but lean towards others too.
Knowing your love language can be key to understanding your partner and making your relationship a happy one and with Valentine's Day in mind, your love language plays a part in gift-giving and the kind of gifts you like to receive.
How to find out what your love language is? There's a five-minute 5 Love Languages quiz which tells you your main love language and your subsidiary ones.
The school of thought has gathered fans across the globe including singer Miley Cyrus. She revealed on the Call Her Daddy podcast in 2020 that 'acts of service' was her particular love language. "My love language kind of makes me sound like an asshole but it's not," she told host Alex Cooper. "If someone that I'm with tells me, 'My closet's driving me crazy it's totally unorganised,' by the time they're home the next day I've already dealt with it."
Your partner's love language may be completely different to yours. While Miley prefers to express and receive love through acts of service, she finds another of the love languages - gifts - awkward. "I hate gifts," she said on the podcast. "They're so embarrassing, I never know what to do with my face," she says." I would rather someone make something for me and that to me is an act of service."
Learning your partner's love language can help to take the guesswork out of gift-giving – especially if they're particularly hard to buy for.
For a helping hand, we've compiled an edit of the best gifts to buy someone, depending on their love language.
The love language: Words of affirmation
Someone whose love language is words of affirmation likes to be told 'I love you' or for their partner to express that they're proud of them and give them compliments, be they physical compliments or words of encouragement.
If words of affirmation are the way to your partner's heart, jot down a soppy love note on personalised paper, recite a poem more romantic than anything you could write yourself, give them a daily reminder of how great they are with motivational quotes or cards.
Words of affirmation gift ideas
“If you’re looking to bring more love into your life, use Rose Quartz,” says Tori Boughey, holistic health coach and founder of crystal jewellery brand TBalance. When it comes to words of affirmation it’s all about being told things that are unique to you, and these bracelets and necklaces are totally customisable. Pick and mix from an array of crystals, which (if you’re a believer in crystal energy) bring different emotions into your life.
If you want your significant other to know that they bring you happiness, choose citrine, if they’re a calming presence in your life choose amethyst - or if you’re still trying to persuade someone to fall in love with you then gift them a malachite bracelet, it’s the stone of transformation and manifestation. You can also personalise each item of jewellery with bespoke letters or words. We’re into this one, which truly affirms that the receiver is your soul mate. Cute.
Brown paper packages tied up with string are a favourite for those for whom words of affirmation are a thing. And, what says I love you better than a handwritten note on personalised paper? South East London based Fran Goring’s pretty calligraphy adorns each silky notecard in this pack of 12. From names and dates to expressions of love or, yes, words of affirmation, you select what you’d like to say in the colour you’d like it written in. Say it with ink this valentine’s day.
Roses are red, violets are blue, this poetry book will release the inner Wordsworth in you. Give up on your ambitions of wooing your lover with childish rhymes and leave the experts to express how you feel instead. This anthology of poems collated by William Sieghart includes specially selected poems to provide a word tonic to whatever emotion you’re feeling at the time. Whether you’ve been married for 40 years or are deep in despair thanks to unrequited love, there’s a poem for everyone in this pocket-sized book.
Fragrance facts. Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Tell them loud and clear just how great you think they are with Tom Ford’s boldly emblazoned scent. And, you know what they say about fragrance evoking memories, well this warm spicy, leathery, sexy scent will have them thinking of you all day long. Or, just buy it for yourself because you deserve some words of affirmation too.
The love language: Quality time
This love language is all about giving someone your full time and attention rather than checking your phone or watching TV while you're together. Undivided attention makes people with this love language feel adored and appreciated.
From picnic dates to weekends away, choose a gift that will encourage you to actually follow through with all those wishful thinking plans you make.
Quality time gift ideas
After a few years of limited travel, planning a trip away together is the ultimate way to show that you want to spend time together. Also, we know the actual trip is more important than the luggage but this lightweight case has 360 wheels for airport ease, a hidden laundry bag to hide away all of those essentials and even a USB charger so you don’t have to worry about your phone running out of battery if you get bored of each other.
From days at the beach to afternoons in the park, turning eating a sandwich into a chance to hang out is the very British way of saying I love you. This cute hamper comes with insulated lining plus a sweet stripey interior, as well as all the cutlery and crockery you need for a feast for two.
Sure, cooking dinner for two is a lovely way to spend time together. But do you know what’s even more fun? Making cocktails together. Whether you’re stirring up a punchy virgin mary or mixing together a perfect martini, make a night out of mixology.
The love language: Physical intimacy
If your love language is physical intimacy, it means you value physical touch and see physicality as a sign of affection, whether that's holding hands on the sofa, regular kisses or an active sex life.
OK so you could go down the obvious route when gifting this love language, and yes sex toys are fun. But why not think outside the box and set the mood for getting intimate by spoiling them with an at-home massage or getting cosy under a blanket?
Physical intimacy gift ideas
Lavender, candles and a massage - this sweet-scented gift ticks all of the romance boxes. Light the candle to release the heavenly aroma of lavender, jasmine and rosewood, and when the wax has melted (and cooled) you can pour it onto each other where it becomes a massage oil. If that’s not the perfect gift for, well anyone actually, then we don’t know what is.
Starting at 5kg in weight there’s actual science to prove that getting cosy under a rug is good for you. The blanket works by applying gentle pressure to your body which increases serotonin and oxytocin production, the hormones that are released when you hug. True devotees keep them on the bed night after night but the blanket works just as well to snuggle up under on the sofa. If you’re going to be apart then leaving them with this blanket can help conjure up the same feel-good benefits you’d get if you were actually hugging.
Did you know that in Ayurveda, massaging the top of the head helps ro renew energy levels? Offer to give your partner a relaxing head massage and you’ll not only get brownie points but you’ll have boosted their mood too! Akash Mehta, founder of Fable & Mane shared some advice for giving the ultimate scalp massage:
“Start by getting them to ground themselves by taking five slow, deep breaths. Next, warm a few drops of oil in your plans and slowly rub into their scalp. Then, you need to find their crown chakra - this is the part where stimulation can encourage higher energy levels - place your thumb and index fingers in an L shape, place the thumbs at the top of the ears to meet the index fingers at the top of the head - this is the crown chakra. Massage the oil into the crown chakra before zigzagging across the scalp, creating circular motions with your hands, use medium pressure until all of the oil is absorbed.”
The love language: Receiving gifts
From grand romantic gestures to little tokens of affection, if this is your love language visual symbols of love in the form of gifts is what makes you feel the most loved.
Ah, the perennial present lover, aka the trickiest person to shop for. Steer clear from cliche gifts like fragrance and jewellery, these fussy lovers will respond best to something thoughtful.
Receiving gifts ideas:
Ok, so we know we said don’t opt for a cliche present but the floral fancies created by the flower fairies at My Lady Garden couldn’t be further from a cop-out bunch of red roses. Think magical mimosa, pastel themed bouquets or bold and bright blooms that look more like a piece of art than a half-hearted attempt to fill a vase. Prices start at £25 for tulips and move up to £80 for a show stopper.
With the classic love story Ali and Nino by Kurban Said, Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems and Natasha Lunn’s Conversations on Love this is the gift that keeps on giving for the bookworm in your life. You even get to choose a chic card to accompany this thoughtful book bundle.
Spread a little love through the letterbox with these quirky biscuits from the most fun bakers around, Biscuiteers. The colourful cookies are iced with playful phrases, we’re tempted by ‘love at first bite’, or choose a box of three biscuits which come shaped and iced in fun themes, sushi shaped sweet treats, anyone? You can even request to have bespoke shapes and wording too.
The love language: Acts of services
If you believe actions speak louder than words, acts of service is likely to be your love language. Rather than being given gifts, someone doing little jobs for you, like filling up your car or picking up dinner is what makes you feel most loved.
Acts of service gift ideas
Who doesn’t love breakfast in bed? Whether it’s the first time you’ve stayed over or you’ve been bedfellows for decades, coming up the stairs with freshly squeezed orange juice and boiled eggs (insert preferred breakfast option here), shows that you really care. Or that you’re really sorry.
Tub time is the best time. And it’s even better when it involves one of Aromatherapy Associates' decadent bath rituals. There's a scent for every mood in this treasure trove of bathtime treats. So if your lover is stressed, run-down or just needs some time alone, run the bath, light some candles and add in a few drops of their favourite bathtime scent to create a place of peace for them to unwind in.
If the way to your partner’s heart is through their stomach then you could do worse than cooking up a hearty stew. This classic cooking pot is the ideal thing for flexing your culinary skills and whipping up a meal for two.
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