Gary Chapman PhD is the author of one of my all time favorite books, the best-seller The Five Love Languages. It created the concept of individuals giving and receiving love in specific ways that are measurable and determine how we act and engage with the world and those we love.
Based on his work, each of us falls into a love category (love language) that determines how we prefer to express and receive love. This benefits us by better understanding ourselves and why we feel the things we feel. It also goes a step further when we apply the concepts to those that we love such as our spouse or children. Identify their love language helps us better understand how they give and receive love as well. It helps us understand how best to love them and show that love for them. Love is not a word or a feeling, it is action or a series of actions that display the deep feeling we have.
The things that we personally like/need to feel loved might be completely different for our family and friends. What if the ways in which you show love and affection have always been about you and not them? Wouldn’t you want to change that? Of course you would!
So, let’s take a look at the five love languages:
- Words of Affirmation- This love language is essentially based in giving and receiving nurturing and positive feedback. Words and communication of your love and admiration via words are key here. Silence is not golden in this case. This love language is represented by seeking understanding, asking for forgiveness when wrong, sharing kind and encouraging words, and giving and receiving meaningful compliments. This person wants to hear I love you, be told they are beautiful/handsome, be told they are hardworking, a good parent, etc.
- Quality Time- The quality time love language is all about togetherness. The distinction being the time is focused and centered on the relationship; time is uninterrupted with no distractions. This is shown by putting away devices, maintaining eye contact during conversations, active listening, and participating in activities meaningful to the relationship. This person needs date nights, family movie/game nights, and other special one on one trips or events. Time spent together is what makes them feel loved.
- Receiving Gifts- Receiving gifts is a timeless gesture of love and respect. Those who have it for a primary love language are uplifted by the sentiment of the gift-giving more than the gift itself. It is all about what the gift represents and the effort that was taken by the giver that means so much. It shows that you were thinking of them and that you mean so much to them they bought you a gift.
- Acts of Service- This love languages is all about doing things for others that they appreciate. Whereas the above people like physical gifts, these folks like to be served in some way as an expression of your love. No, I don’t mean that they want their feet rubbed all the time I mean they want to see the “work” you put into your love. A wife can fill her husband’s car with gas or pack him a lunch. A husband can vacuum the floor or make his sick wife some chicken soup. Acts of service are expressions of love…more than words or baubles are needed because those are not what they value.
- Physical Touch- This love language goes way beyond the obvious idea of sex. This language is saturated in the warmth that comes from being present and being in touch and in tune with the other party. Holding the hand of a friend in distress. Making sure to hug and kiss your spouse hello every day after work. Sitting side-by-side with an anxious child. These are acts of love that mean the world to a physical touch love language receiver. Those moments of contact are what make them feel loved. And yes sex is very important to a spouse with this love language as well.
You can take a simple test at 5LoveLanguages.com and discover your hierarchy of languages. You may have a dominant language or a blend of more than one. Generally speaking, how you prefer to express your love is also the same as how you prefer to receive gestures of love. Check out your ratings and get more familiar with the concept to enhance your interpersonal experiences.
My husband is a combo of physical touch and words of affirmation. He needs to hear often about how wonderful, handsome, and amazing he is. He also wants to be hugged, touched, kissed, and his hand held often. Physical touch to him means ‘I love you”. As a quiet and not overly affectionate person myself…these are things I have to constantly work at but I do because he needs these things.
My love language is acts of service. For me nothing says love like someone caring enough to be of service to me. I appreciate a clean house when I get home from a trip, someone offering to fold laundry with me, or someone filling my car with gas when I have to work the next day. Hugs, kisses, gifts, and words of love are nice but not what actually makes me feel deep inside like that person really loves me.
That is what it is all about folks. What makes you feel loved deep down? What makes those around you feel loved deep down? Are you going about showing your love for those people in effective or ineffective ways? Find out!