I read this small book, once, written by an american pastor, I think, about how to show your love for someone you cared about. The idea behind the book was that there were several different "languages" of love (seven, if my memory serves me right, but I can't seem to remember them all), and that most people only "spoke" one or two of them. As I thought about what made the people I cared for happy, I decided there might be some truth to it. While I think that most people speak all of the "languages", the different ways of showing appreciation is valued differently by different people. Seeing what, exactly, people value, can be a bit tricky, but awareness of what they do to you should work well.
The "languages" were all pretty broad. One, probably my favourite, was physical contact. Not sexual contact, though that is part of it if it's with a significant other, but things such as holding hands and hugging.
Research I've seen later on indicates that physical contact of this kind is quite important, not only for romantic relationships, but also for friendships. It is also important for emotional stability, with people who do not get as much physical contact with people they care for being generally less happy and emotionally stable. The fact that babies who do not get much physical care from their parents often develop severe problems should be a hint here. But I digress.
Another "language" was gifts. I know I don't care much for this, personally. I mean, sure, it's fun to get something I want, but for me, it's honestly the present, and not the thought, that generally counts. Some people, however, care greatly for this, and loves to get presents, even if it's just a cheap little thingy or a flower (roses, I've heard, is a favourite in romantic relationships).
It should probably not surprise anybody that compliments are one of the remaining "languages". Some people really crave compliments, sometimes to a level where it gets self-destructive. I must admit I like them myself, and as a result I do give them out to those I care for. See, proof right there that there's some truth to the point of the book.
Doing something to help the people you care for, favours and services, is the fourth "language". I am pretty certain this is my mothers language. She gets really happy if I do her a favour or help her out with something. The fact that I hate doing housework or gardening (hey, I'm a guy. We don't like that sort of stuff (not that most women like it either, I am sure). Well, except my cousin, who when he was around six or seven actually used to come and ask my mother if he could, say, help wash the dishes, after we had them for dinner) doesn't make that one too fun, but I try.
The last "language" I can remember for certain (it's been years since I read the book) is spending "quality time" with them. Ever had a girlfriend/boyfriend who wanted to spend all their waking time with you? They probably spoke this language. Or they were just clingy and paranoid. This means doing something with them not for doing whatever you're doing, but for being with them. It often means doing something you don't find very fun, but they do.
I also believe conversations were a language mentioned in the book. If it wasn't, it should be. Sitting down and talking with people you care about, whether just chit-chatting about what has happened lately, cute girls (if you're a guy talking to your guy-friends), or whatever, or a deeper conversation of some kind, it is important for many people. I've certainly bonded very well, to the extent that I'd actually call them friends, with a couple of people I've never met face-to-face, but have talked with extensively over the net.
I hope some people will find this valuable information. As I said in the beginning of the w/u, I disagree with the basic assumption of the book that I stole these ideas from that said that each of us only speak a couple of these "languages", but I still feel it's a good idea to be aware of the different ways different people show that they appreciate you, because this will tell you what will make them feel the most appreciated and loved as well.