The One Gift Your Significant Other Actually Wants This Year

Photo by Lauren Naefe / Stocksy

Invitation: What if we went to N.C. or somewhere with leaves this weekend? @ Sat., Oct. 20 – Sun., Oct 21, 2018

That's a real Google calendar invite I randomly received from my partner sometime this summer without any prior discussion of said leafy getaway. Every now and then he'll simply send me a mysterious calendar invitation that says something along those lines, suggesting a different little travel idea each time. Sometimes we realize it's not going to work with our schedules once we actually hunker down and investigate dates, but often, they really do turn into exciting, semi-spontaneous little adventures.

If you're trying to figure out what kind of gift to get your significant other for the holidays or any other special occasion, one recent survey suggests you follow our lead: Sandals Resorts teamed up with a market research firm to survey over 1,100 Americans in relationships (a nationally representative population sample) and found most of them preferred time with their partner over physical presents. A whopping 96 percent of them said experiences as a couple "meant more" to them than anything that can come in a box. (And not surprisingly, 91 percent of folks said they wished they could take a vacation with their partner after the holidays.)

The results make sense: Research shows couples who more often engage in self-expanding activities together tend to have a more passionate and satisfying relationship.

Gifting a vacation can be tricky, but there's definitely something particularly gratifying about receiving a fully planned-out and paid-for getaway. I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that planning a vacation can be a serious headache—from selecting a quality destination to figuring out the scheduling logistics to finding an affordable flight to researching where to stay and what to do—ugh. So having someone do all that mental, emotional, and time-intensive labor for you is immensely generous and meaningful, sometimes even more so than them just footing the bill. Whether it be a day trip to the beach or a weekend upstate at some Airbnb with a hot tub, my partner and I truly love gifting this act of service to each other. He plans; all I need to do is show up. I plan; he just sends an OOO request to his boss, and I handle the rest. And just like that, we're off someplace warm, quiet, and connective. Talk about the perfect gift.

If you want to gift your S.O. a vacation, don't sweat the surprise aspect: Ask them directly what they'd think about taking a little time out during this month or that month. Get a sense of their receptiveness to the idea to make sure they're in the right head space to take a break (sometimes the most relaxing thing to do is actually just to stay in your routine and get work done, so be mindful of that); you also want to know you're not accidentally choosing a weekend when they've got eight deadlines in a single day. But if they seem delighted and thrilled by your suggestion, go ahead: Plan out some adventurous memories to come.

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