(Admittedly written some time ago and left in drafts)
Writing this in the car on my way to drop off some Easter treats to relatives. I’ve been informed by those in the know that apparently these days the Easter bunny delivers trainers and iPads along with Easter eggs, so have decided to act accordingly. I don’t think there is a higher pleasure in life than looking after people you care about; I take great pride at being a good gift giver (I often see people still using gifts I’ve bought them more than a decade later, which is a lovely feeling), and have also been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of some very thoughtful gifts recently. I remember when I was in school and I gave this boy I liked a little section of the original film reel from The Incredible Hulk (his favourite film) signed by the original cast members. I didn’t fancy him or anything but he was a good friend and I got such a happy feeling from giving this gift. Even happy thinking about it now! I remember buying an ex of mine a Big Green Egg (THE luxury BBQ for all people into this kind of thing). It arrives on a huge palate and takes 2 people to life. After we split up it took every gram of maturity I had not to seek custody of the Big Green Egg, but the moment of arranging it and seeing my plan come into fruition was so joyful for me.
Throughout history, a well thought out gift has been a consistent symbol of friendship, care, and love. There are gifts I have treasured like my beloved MaxMara coat, which I didn’t even like at the time, but now appreciate for what it is, a timeless piece that I can wear until I’m 100. I have a plant at home that I was gifted 5 or 6 years ago. It was the size of my hand at the time but is now 4ft tall. I remember in my early teens getting obsessed with Vogue magazine, and discovering one particular Jeweller called Moussaieff. The story of the Moussaieff family is truly magical and you can read about it online. It is not a Van Cleef or Cartier type jeweller, it’s a boutique jewellers still within the same family that makes some really exceptionally beautiful things. I didn’t understand the true impact of jewellery until I walked past their boutique on New Bond Street last year and popped in because it was less embarrassing than staring into the window steaming up up like a ravenous hyena 🤣 A gift from Moussaieff is my favourite piece (the pendant you see in some photos). The moment I saw it my heart started beating. It was gorgeous. As a woman, I love things that enhance my beauty – a delicate lingerie, a beautiful bouquet in my apartment, a sexy pair of heels, the sparkle of diamonds, a fresh manicure, an evening dress fitted to perfection. What a good gift does is show the person receiving that you have thought of them, and that you would like to leave with this person, a token of your appreciation. Generosity of course is not just about the material: time and experiences are also fantastic gifts, and I should mention that if I had to choose I would always choose time and experiences over gifts.
I don’t know if you’ve heard about the Five Love Languages? It’s essentially a simplified way of seeing how most people like to give or receive love (or more generally speaking affection). There are various tests and quizzes online which can tell you what yours is. The five languages are:
1. Words of affirmation. Offer verbal compliments and words of appreciation.
2. Physical touch. Hugging, kissing, holding hands, massage, physical intimacy (not necessarily sex)
3. Receiving gifts. Give thoughtful and meaningful gifts of any size without an occasion.
4. Quality time. Giving your partner undivided attention through exclusive time together
6. Acts of service. Running an errand, cooking a meal, helping with business
Perhaps after reading these there are 1 or two that you naturally gravitate to. It’s important to mention that a lot of people like to give in one way, but like to receive in a different way.
If I were forced to put these love languages in order, I would put these 3 as a priority:
And these 2 as things that mean less to me:
Acts of service
Words of affirmation
I would say my top 3 in combination probably explain a lot about my personality and why I am a romantic and sensual person who enjoys a traditional element to my interactions. Quality time is my most important language hence my love for travelling and long dates. We can only be in one place at a time, so particularly for a busy person I really appreciate the gift of time. Words of affirmation come at the bottom, mostly because I’ve come to not value words so much. In life actions speak much louder. Having said that, I find many people find words of affirmation to be much higher on the list. Because I don’t find it important I often have to remind myself that others do. I wouldn’t spend time with anyone I didn’t like. So the idea that someone may enjoy me saying “I like spending time with you, you’re good company” etc etc is something I often don’t think about. This is the case of all the love languages, it’s important to know what the person you’re around enjoys, often it’s not what you enjoy. Typically people who enjoy giving gifts as a language, don’t care as much about receiving them (I like both ways, but this is not so common). People who enjoy giving gifts often prefer non tangible ways of showing affection, like physical touch or affirmative words.
Things that may seem of no value to you are extremely important to other people. People who primarily enjoy physical touch may interpret a squeeze on the bum or a long cuddle in bed as far more important than a compliment or helping out around the house. If you’re someone with more financial resources you may come to the conclusion that gifts mean nothing to you, or you may think the complete opposite and find that actually it makes someone bothering to make a small gesture all the more important. If you have little time or work a lot, you may place a great importance on quality time, as I do. Or an act of service – someone who will help take some of the burden by making your life easier. A text popping up on your phone to say “Don’t worry about it I’ve already booked the flights and locked up the garage, what do you want for dinner” may do much more for you than a compliment or a shiny new gift. Love Languages are more symbolic and they come from our values. These days I think a lot of people feel embarrassed by the act of giving. Nobody wants to be the fool who invests effort or time or money into something where it might not be appreciated or reciprocated. Because current norms in society are that pridefulness and arrogance the way to get ahead. But for me, the precariousness of giving is part of why I enjoy it. It’s putting yourself on the line. It’s sacrificing something you have for the potential of making another person happy. Most people who are miserable inside are not invested enough in the happiness of others. Giving and caring about others is a well of happiness that never runs dry. Selfishness is the route of a lot of unhappiness.
An extreme example was I remember years ago whenever I was feeling sad I would make a small charitable donation. I’d go online and either find random charities, or go fund me pages, or on 3 occasions sponsor children overseas who needed help (these sponsorships are still ongoing although over the last 6 years, the pictures I get sent that they’ve allegedly drawn, have not improved in quality 😂 but that’s another story). After making these donations I was filled with an instant calm and happiness. A few weeks ago I was invited to a charity dinner which was designed to raise funds for affordable housing for the homeless community and the rebuild of a Church close to the area I grew up in (the dinner took place in a church which was somewhat uncomfortable what with me being the physical incarnation of human sin and all). I arrived early and walked in to an extremely humble, cold, modern church. I immediately took all my jewellery off and started helping out serving the gin and tonics (is that allowed in church?) so nobody could ask me too many questions about my life. I felt a bit uncomfortable and guilty because its so easy to close your eyes to the real struggles a lot of people have until they are in front of you. A lot of people think that they’re special. People who have been born into or subsequently chanced upon good luck, often don’t realise that people who are much less fortunate are the same as them. It takes a relatively straightforward series of events for anyone to fall on hard times. A divorce, a betrayal within the business, or indeed a pandemic, can take everything you’ve worked for and reduce it to a sleepless night. And for some people with less resources, the boiler breaking, an expected bill, or being made redundant can put you in a position so bad you can’t get out of it. I think one of the reasons I felt uncomfortable is because it caused me to think about my own struggles and how miserable they made me. I felt great empathy for the people I met because I have been in this position many moons ago – not “skint” but genuinely penniless and hungry with no food.
Someone at the charity dinner asked me if I’ve “ever been abroad” and I just said yes sometimes and they said they want to but cant afford it and I felt so sad and guilty. I think many people who grew up poor, as I did, see gifts as a love language because you associate it with people around you always having to save up or sacrifice to give you the things you wanted. The sacrifice parents make to give their children the gift of a good education, or the gift of an overseas holiday, or the gift of a new pair of trainers so they don’t feel embarrassed at school can be the route of why some people as adults perceived gifts to be important. But back to this charity dinner. After I left I felt very out of touch about the reality of some people’s lives and I resolved to do more to help other people. I think the reason I had been hesitant about doing more things directly was that I feel embarrassed about when people feel they have to act grateful to me. A lot of people say they like doing things for others, but what they really enjoy is other people being grateful, and the affirmation those people give them that they’re a good person. I’m not like that and the thought of people heaping praise on me makes me feel nauseous.
Physical touch is important to me because I am a sensual person who loves nothing more than being squeezed and mercilessly groped. I think for me it’s as much about my own enjoyment, as liking to be around someone that is capable of connecting physically and who is open enough to enjoy touch and closeness. I think it shows a level of comfort with yourself and also desire for the person you’re with. I would say for me physical touch is an affirmation, but just one I prefer more than words. Someone giving my bum a good squeeze is preferable being told “you have a nice bum”. Although even as a write this, I suppose both of these together would probably be ideal 😁