With charitable giving for instance, the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved, and studies show that this type of giving can decrease blood pressure and reduce stress. Could you and your loved one do something charitable over the holidays together that will bring you both the joy of giving back? Not only will you be doing something wonderful, but the health benefits of social connection in this way is bonding and beautiful. It’s a shared experience that shows how you both love people and care about sharing and giving in an altruistic way. This type of giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, the reward part of your brain that releases endorphins and makes you feel great.
There are a number of ways we can give and all have a different feeling and outcome associated with it. Back in the day, people used to make what was called a ‘mixed tape’ (today widely known as a ‘playlist’), which was a selection of songs that resonated with them about the recipient that they wanted to share. By hitting up your music library and picking out the songs that say something about the person you love, is such a meaningful thing to do. For anyone who might feel awkward expressing themselves emotionally, this is a lovely way to express how you feel. Likewise, you could make a selection of music that says all the things you know and love about the object of your affection. The songs you choose will really let them know that you know them well.
What is a sentimental gift? Something that has sentiment of meaning to it. Do you remember the first book or film that you bonded over when you were falling in love? Where were you when you first laid eyes on each other? Where did you go on your very first date? Where was the first place you ever went away to? Imagine what it would be like to be on a game show where you had to choose accurately what it is your partner loves or doesn’t love, or do, or say. If you’re tuned into the detail, it is a demonstration of the fact that you are interested and care about them. Sentimental gifts related to that detail speak volumes and can be incredibly moving, no matter how small. It’s not about the expense or the size of the gesture, it’s all about the sentiment behind it. If you find yourself struggling or the relationship is new, don’t be afraid to lean in, ask questions, really listen, or tap into their nearest and dearest for special advice and information.
What about the gift you can use or wear vs the experiential gift? Both can be equally tricky if you get it wrong, or it could also be super funny if you do. If you want to play it safe, it’s good to know your recipient well, and also be up for adventure without scaring them. For instance, are you both foodies? Could you give the gift of a bread or cake baking experience, together, in chef hats doing something fun and memorable? Is there something you’ve both always wanted to do, that you could gift and share in together? Are you wine lovers? How about a wonderful evening learning all about wines from a certain region? Would you both love to be able to dance as a couple? How about a Salsa class or a ballroom lesson? All these ideas make for perfect date nights and are the wonderful gift of shared experiences. Maybe you gents could be generous and gift mani-pedis and cocktails to your girlfriend for a girl’s night out? It demonstrates you’re secure about giving space in a relationship.
Give and take in a relationship is not just about space and responsibilities, it can also be damaging if one party is always the thoughtful giving person and the other is the lazy receiver. Balance is required to ensure it feels natural, authentic, giving from the heart with generosity and not because it’s the season or because you must. Giving in between unexpectedly, but in a way that says you know your partner, is a wonderful way to solidify your love and connection. Of course, everything is about balance. If you over give because of a neuropsychological need to be seen or accepted, then excessive giving can also awkward for the receiver. You don’t want them to feel swamped or suffocated. Also think about what kind of a receiver you are? Will you allow yourself to be given to?
The biggest gift you can give all year round is time, and listening.
Not just hearing, but listening. The more time you give and the listening you do, the easier it will be for you to give gifts because the ideas and the sentiment will come to you naturally and easily. Switch up the gift giving this festive season with this in mind, and you will bring complete joy to the one you love.
Here at Maclynn, we are on hand to guide and support you through all aspects of dating and relationships – don’t hesitate to reach out.