What's Your Love Language?
Have you ever been given a gift that you could tell was thoughtfully selected with you in mind, but you didn't react the way the giver was expecting you to? Do you like to hug and show physical affection like holding hands, but your child is less than enthusiastic? Do you drop not-so-subtle hints to your partner about how busy you are while looking pointedly at the dirty dishes, and they sit, immune to what you're suggesting?
In each of these situations, knowing your own and your companion's Love Language could make things easier!
Love languages are our preferred ways of receiving affection from others, and, often, our characteristic ways of showing affection to those we love. Knowing your own love language(s) and those of your relationship partner, close friends, family members, and even children, can have a huge impact on how you relate to others in your life and can help you identify some sources of conflict or dissatisfaction you may feel in your relationships if you are not receiving your preferred type of affection.
The Love Languages identified by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts" are:
- Physical Touch: "Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches" are the go-to ways someone with this Love Language will show they care. Lack of this type of interaction can lead to this person to feel neglected or unloved.
- Words of Affirmation: "Unsolicited compliments mean the world" to someone who speaks this language. They need to hear the words of love and support and appreciation from those they care about. Insults are more than sticks and stones to someone who values words of affirmation.
- Acts of Service: "Anything you can do to ease the burden of responsibilities" for someone who prefers this type of show of affection will go a long way. Being inconsiderate of time, feelings, or needs may cause this person to feel that they are not cared for.
- Receiving Gifts: "The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift." It really is the thought that counts if you speak this love language. Missed opportunities for thoughtful gifts or a thoughtless gift may leave someone who values receiving gifts feeling as though the giver didn't really care enough to be thoughtful.
- Quality Time: "Nothing says 'I love you' like full, undivided attention." True, uninterrupted presence show someone who speaks this language that you are there for them and there is nowhere you would rather be. Distracted interactions may leave the QT speaker feeling as though they are not valued.
More than likely, you have a way (or two) that you prefer for people to show you love and affection, and you may have trouble in or feel disconnected from relationships where you don't receive enough of it. For example, maybe you love to know that your partner is thinking about you while you're apart, so you love it when you receive a "just because" text or gift. If your partner does that often, you probably feel loved and cared for often. But maybe, your partner likes to hug you or tell you how nice you look. Maybe they fill your car with gas or pick up the groceries on their way home from work but rarely or never give you a special gift. You may not feel loved even when they are trying to show their love for you in other ways. Helping your partner understand how important it is for you to know that they are thinking of you can move you both toward greater satisfaction in your relationship.
The website www.5lovelanguages.com offers a free assessment that you and your partner can take to determine your primary love language as well as how much you value the other four. It only takes a few minutes, and it may offer some insight into conflict or dissatisfaction (or satisfaction) you have felt in your relationship. Over the next few posts we will explore these love languages in the context of several relationships: Romantic partnerships, parent/child relationships, and friendships. The insight you gain from knowing your own preferred ways of giving and receiving love can be invaluable in relationships.
- Chapman, G. (2015). The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Northfield Publishing: Chicago.
- www.5lovelanguages.com: Website offers free love language quizzes.
- The Marriage Garden