Every man in a relationship knows the real pressure he faces around this time every year: “How do I find the perfect gift that shows her how much I love her?” (Or really like her, if you’re dating).
Classically, the thing to do for Valentine’s Day is to give flowers and chocolate. But how many of us have spent hundreds of dollars on roses and chocolate, only to be met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from our significant other? She may have played along, but it was obvious that something was missing. She didn’t feel loved. What’s the deal?
I’ll give you one big hint–She wants to feel known and cherished.
Part of being in a committed relationship is learning how to send the message “I love you very much” to your significant other. Every person is unique, and therefore needs a different experience to feel loved. Many women don’t feel loved by the gift of chocolate and roses, or by gifts in general. The reason this approach has backfired in the past for many of us is that we have been aiming the arrow of love at the wrong target. In order to send messages of “I love you very much,” you first need to learn about what makes her feel loved. One of the best ways to do this is by learning about the 5 love languages. (Chapman, 1998)–and specifically, how to speak her love language!
1. Physical Touch
People who receive “I love you” messages and develop connection through touch need physical contact that others may not need. Touch people have a “touch meter” planted inside their chests, which is counting the nanoseconds since they were last touched. As the meter is depleted by a lack of touch, it registers higher and higher numbers of need. After these numbers reach a certain point, a touch person begins to feel anxiety increase, and eventually can become easily agitated or aggravated–just like people who get grumpy when they need to eat. When they are getting the touch they need, they feel safe, nurtured, and loved, and you will see them at their very best.
2. Acts of Service
Acts of service folks also have a meter inside them. This meter is either filled or depleted based on intentional acts of kindness that have either been done, or not done, for them by the people who care about them. Their anxiety will climb when there are many things to do, and they feel alone in carrying the weight of getting it all done. When someone steps in to help, it lowers their anxiety. What really helps them feel loved is when they see that you are freely choosing to serve them in order to show them affection, not because you feel coerced. Sometimes even the simplest task can make them feel loved and strengthen the relational connection.
Gifts people are constantly soaking up evidence that the people in their life know them and think about them even they are not around. This evidence lies in a physical token of love. The gifts person hears, feels, and experiences love through the offering of a gift that says, “I know you. I have been paying attention to you. I have become a student of you, and this gift is a demonstration that I get you.” Anxiety rises in a gifts person if you forget to bring a gift to a special occasion or you give a gift without much thought. Do the work required to find a gift that says, “You were on my mind. I thought you’d like this.”
4. Quality Time
Quality time people feel love and connection when you find them interesting–with the evidence of this interest being that you want to spend time with them. When a quality time person invites you to have a conversation or to join them in an activity or hobby, this is an opportunity for you to send the message, “I am interested in you.” For quality time people, pain enters the relationship when you don’t listen or pay attention to them. Quality time is not necessarily quantity time; the level of genuine interest and engagement you give determines the quality. Engage in the activity or conversation with all your energy and attention, and you will engage them on the deepest level.
5. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation people feel most enjoyed and appreciated when your words and body language include a positive tone of voice, facial expressions, and word choice. They notice the “spirit” or intent of the words exchanged, and that aspect impacts them powerfully. For the words of affirmation person, anxiety rises and falls with the way words are used in conversation. A simple word of encouragement goes a long way toward creating safety and connection. Love flows into them with every positive word, and they relax as they experience someone verbally expressing their enjoyment in them.
So, this Valentine’s Day, instead of doing the usual “buy her flowers and chocolate” routine, why not take the time to get to know her a little more? Find out what interests her, and how she experiences love the best. Maybe even take some time to read more about the 5 love languages with her in Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages or in Keep Your Love On in order to get an even greater understanding of how you might be able to show her affection and help her feel known and cherished.
Make this Valentine’s Day one to remember by sending an intentional message of:
“I love you very much!”
PS) This blog was directly inspired by a teaching in the Relationship track of the Life Academy. Find out more about it here.