A Guide to Understanding The Ones We Love: The Five Love Languages
The term, "love language" originated from relationship counselor, Gary Chapman. His book, "The 5 Love Languages" is a lot more detailed than what I'm about to share with you, but really, you just need the gist of this concept to put it into action.
Which is where I come in. I'm not going to make you read a book. I'm not your schoolteacher.
But this week, I want to get a little more personal and talk about the one thing that essentially runs the world. Love.
"'Cause L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see, V is very, very extraordinary, E is even more than anyone that you adore can."
Ok, enough of the Nat King Cole.
We have countless songs and poems and movies and conversations, though, to try and understand what exactly the hell Love is.
I'm sorry to say that I'm not here to give you a definition. I can't be held accountable for that.
I'm just here to tell you that it's complicated.
Relationships in love, whether its romantic, familial, platonic, etc. require communication to thrive. If we don't understand the person we have a relationship with, we're never going to be able to understand how to love them in a way that keeps them close to us.
And ultimately, we all just want to feel connected. In fact, we need to feel connected. It's human nature. It's the law of life, really.
In his book, Chapman says that there are five ways in which people express their love, and that the best way to understand a person is to understand their love language. Pretty simple stuff. You can resonate with more than one way, but let me break it down by language.
1. Words of Affirmation
People who speak this love language love to tell and be told. They are good at using their voices to express what you mean to them, and hope for the same in return.
"You look beautiful/handsome today."
"I'm so lucky to have you."
"I'm so proud of everything you've accomplished."
"I love the way you talk about things that you're passionate about."
are not unusual.
People who speak the "Words of Affirmation" love language are the linguists of love.
Through words they thrive. If you know somebody like this, try speaking their language by sharing what they mean to you. I can guarantee you, they'll absolutely L-O-V-E it.
2. Acts of Service
People who speak this love language show their affection through physical acts. Whether it's helping you to clean the kitchen when you've just cooked a big meal, or taking your dog out at 6 a.m. when they know that you desperately need sleep, these lovers are the epitome of "actions speak louder than words."
Things like filling up the gas tank in you car or helping you with mundane tasks are examples of actions that someone who speaks the "Acts of Service" love language may do.
Of course, their actions are dependent on the person they're showing love to. It's all relative.
Maybe it's hard for them to express their feelings through words, but don't fail to recognize that while they may not say what you always want to hear, they are S-H-O-W-I-N-G you.
If you know somebody like this, try doing something for them that you know will make their day easier. Try speaking their language for a day.
3. Receiving Gifts
People who speak this love language show their affection through the act of giving gifts, and love to receive them as well. This doesn't always mean Bentleys and diamond rings. Of course, it's all relative to your situation. But, it's more about the little things, the gesture of it all.
If you love flowers, you can be sure that if your lover, mother, friend, etc. knows this about you, you will receive flowers.
Remember that scarf you were talking about two weeks ago? This kind of lover takes note of these things and goes out of their way to give them to you just because they know that it would make you happy.
Whether it's food, or material items, or a simple bouquet of flowers from the garden, someone who speaks the "Receiving Gifts" love language shows their affection through giving.
To them, this act is not shallow, but merely a gesture of their adoration for you.
If you know someone who speaks this language, try surprising them with a gift. It doesn't have to be extravagant to have meaning.
4. Quality Time
Someone who speaks this love language understands the importance of giving someone affection through their undivided attention. Whether it is just lying next to you, listening to you talk, playing a game of catch, scheduling a date night in advanced or turning off their phone for certain amount of time each day so that they are not distracted, they show their love through Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y time.
This love language is particularly important in a time where we are constantly stimulated by the things going on around us, technology being the most obvious one.
"I'm too busy" is also one of the most commonly used phrases by, well, basically everyone. And whether it's actually true or just an excuse, "Quality Time" lovers won't often say this phrase, especially to the ones they love. To them, time is the biggest sacrifice they can give to someone, whether it's to their partners, siblings or children.
If you know someone who speaks this language, call them up and schedule a time to do something, just the two of you.
5. Physical Touch
People who speak this love language understand the importance of physical affection. They're the huggers, kissers, handholder-type lovers of the world. To them, feeling physically connected is how they feel emotionally connected to others.
Circumstantially, this doesn't always mean sex. Though someone who speaks the "Physical Touch" love language probably ranks sex as a very important aspect of a romantic relationship.
In platonic or familial relationships, hugging, kisses and simple touches of care, like rubbing someone's back or touching someone's arm when they're having a personal conversation are common.
There's some science behind this kind of affection. What's giving these touchy lovers that feel-good sensation when cuddling is actually a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the "bliss hormone," which is released during this adorable physical act.
If you know someone like this, particularly a romantic partner, pay attention to their physical needs. Their bodies often times serve as the pathway to their soul.
If you're not sure what love language you speak, take this Online Quiz for some insight into what kind of lover you are. It's a fun and easy way to learn more about yourself and the people around you. And sometimes, we need to learn how to understand each other better more than we need tacos and margaritas.