Our most seasonal love language.
Giving and receiving are essential ingredients in any healthy relationship (wink wink) — but come holiday season, both verbs take on a more literal meaning: Gifts. Between the months of December and February, there are a near impossible quantity of occasions on which gifts are exchanged. And while gift-giving is, indeed, one of the classic love languages, the question remains: Does gift-giving actually bolster a romantic relationship? And furthermore, does opening a gift from your partner make you more attracted to them? Is it a turn-on?
In the realm of love languages, it’s important to note that gift giving serves more as a metaphorical manifestation of love than a consumerist ideal. It’s a gesture of affection and care—love, distilled into the presentation of an object. Which is to say, in that sense, of course the act of gift-giving serves to bolster your partnership.
Au contraire, the gifts themselves do, indeed play a role. When we have our desires met—for anything from diamond rings, to beloved snacks, to tacky souvenirs—dopamine is released in our brains. A want is being placated. That boost in both energy and mood can, indeed, serve as an excellent catalyst for sex. It’s warm and revitalizing.
From a more primal perspective, it’s often theorized that the art of gift-giving alludes to the biological desire to partner with someone who provides. This is not inherently gendered—it’s something that we’re primed to seek out in our romantic counterparts as a way of bolstering our odds of, well, survival. Long story shirt, when your person presents you with, say, a box of your favorite cereal, some tiny piece of your subconscious is thinking, “damn, we’re gonna outlive everyone else.” Or, you know, something like that.
Moreover, plenty of couples therapists recommend taking into consideration the kind of gift you’re giving. There’s an inherent intimacy in sharing favorite books or movies. Things you’ll explore together, and inevitably discuss on future occasions. The same is true of experiential gifts: You’re taking the love language that is gift-giving, and spinning it into a way of carving out more quality time together (famously a plus for couples).
And lastly, if your intent is salacious, consider giving a gift to that affect: A vibrator, a massage candle, lingerie, the list goes on. As a gesture, you’re still communicating tenderness, and a capacity to provide. You’re still inspiring a dopamine boost. But at the same time, you’re providing the (literal) tools to further intimacy — or instigate it.