Here’s a scenario:
For your partner’s birthday, you’ve planned a big birthday party. You’ve invited so many friends, it’s a house party. After that, you set up a trip to the beach. Lastly, you have made reservations to a Micheline star restaurant.
At the party, they are quiet and only talk to a few people. When you are at the beach, they just read. They don’t even get in the water. You notice that at the restaurant you booked months in advance, they barely eat anything. You go back home.
You’re angry and want to know how they could ruin everything you so painstakingly planned for them. You wanna know. They say it was fine, but you know that’s not true. So you keep asking. They thank you for all of the hard work and effort you put in. They say they love what you’ve done. And only wished you had actually planned this for them, and not yourself.
Does this person seem selfish?
Without any details, you can feel for the planner. They planned a party, a trip, and they made reservations at an expensive restaurant for their partner’s birthday. It could seem like their partner is just a selfish, inconsiderate, and ungrateful person.
BUT what if:
The person whose birthday it was: hates going to the beach, and they’ve mentioned it before. They have a short attention span and don’t enjoy it for more than an hour. What if I also told you the type of food at the restaurant was their least favorite kind of food, to the point of them actively avoiding it. Lastly, this person is an introvert and was overwhelmed by the number of strangers at this party.
It changes the narrative entirely, doesn’t it?
A big part of doing something for someone you care about is knowing and caring about what they want. Let’s say my boyfriend gives me a dog for Christmas. It sounds nice until I tell you that I don’t like dogs, and have been actively asking for a pink butted tarantula. Is he loving, or is he just giving me what he wants to have? I get not wanting a tarantula in your house, but you can’t be mad if you at me for not be appreciated of something I actively say I don’t like. Why buy a dog for me if it’s actually only for you?
Another way of loving people well is by taking their love languages into account. It will stop you from spending $1000s of dollars on someone who would be happier with you cleaning up the house. Listening to what your partners wants is a simple way to be a good gift-giver.
Anyone can give a gift, but are you listening enough to be effective at it?