Sometimes it can be difficult to pick the perfect gift, even when we know our loved ones well. With Valentine’s Day coming up quickly, try considering your significant other’s love language. Love languages help categorize the affection a person best responds to, and they can make quite the difference when you understand them for both yourself and your partner.

There are five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch. Below are gift tips or date ideas for each love language based on what your valentine desires the most. They’re low-cost to plan and thoughtful to give. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Words of affirmation

When people like words of affirmation, they look for people who will give them compliments, encouragement and reassurance. These people like to hear love rather than see it through actions or materialistic things.

If this is your significant other’s love language, put together a box of cards, with envelopes labeled “Open when …” with different scenarios. Some examples include: open when you’re losing motivation, open when you’re worried about the future or open when you miss home. This way, whether you’re near or far, your partner will have your words to carry them through and remind them how much you care. 

[This Valentine’s Day, surprise your sweetheart with homemade chocolates]

Quality Time

People who like to receive affection through quality time just want to be with their partners. Spending Valentine’s Day with them might be enough, but you can go above and beyond that as well.

Make a jar of date ideas. You can cut out scraps of paper, with different colored paper noting different price ranges. They don’t all have to be extravagant or super exciting; they can just be little ways to spend time together. Pull out your calendars and plan ahead dates, big and small, for the rest of the month. Make this a tradition and circle back to the jar when your plans run out to have new ways to spend together.

Acts of service

People who like acts of service appreciate it most when their partner goes out of their way to make their lives easier; they see that as an indication of love in a relationship. Unlike people who prefer words of affirmation, people who like acts of service value actions over words. In short: Don’t tell them you love them, show them.

This love language is a little more complicated, because your acts should be proactive to be truly thoughtful. That being said, it’s hard to constantly anticipate your partners needs. If you’ve ever made one of those coupon books for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, that would also work here. Just put together a set of coupons with favors such as “one load of laundry,” “I’ll cook dinner for you” and others of the sort, allowing your partner to cash in when they need them most.

[Students explore the emotions of 2020 in new UMD art exhibition]


This love language is pretty straightforward, but definitely broad. Gift-giving has high stakes, especially for people who love receiving presents the most out of all the other expressions of affection. Since gifts should be thoughtful to the person receiving them, I won’t offer specific gift ideas. I will, however, offer suggestions on how to get the best gift for your partner.

If your partner has a Pinterest, start there. Looking at someone’s Pinterest is like seeing their innermost desires, especially materialistic ones. If they don’t have a Pinterest, or maybe you just can’t find it, fear not. Just knowing they appreciate gifts most as an expression of love is a good enough starting place. Try a group of gifts under a theme. One of my favorite ideas is to get a gift for each of the five senses, or you could put together a gift basket of things that are all the same color.

Physical touch

This love language goes hand-in-hand (pun intended) with quality time. Before there’s physical touch, you have to be physically together. Given the pandemic, though, it might be hard to be with your partner on this Valentine’s Day. If you have to spend Valentine’s Day apart, whether because of the pandemic or just a long-distance relationship, there are still gifts you can send them that match their love language.

A weighted blanket is a great gift for someone who receives love through physical touch, if plain old physical touch isn’t an option. You could also send soft pajamas or fuzzy socks.