Have you ever given 100 percent to someone only for them to come to you to express that they aren’t getting enough from your relationship? How about being with someone who swore they were doing everything they could to make and keep you happy but you failed to see the effort.. or better yet, feel it? You bent over backwards and went the extra mile, how could they not see how much you were proving your Love? They showered you with the perfect combination of affection and gifts, why didn’t you understand that every hug meant “I Love you”? What happened? See, we are often told that we should Love others how we want to be Loved and while that sounds like a great thing to do, it’s not always the best thing to do.
I think it is best to Love people how THEY want to be Loved. Life’s experiences shape our perceptions and we all have a unique perception of what Love is. Not only do we differ in the way we perceive and receive Love, we differ in the way we show it. Often, when we feel that we are showing or proving our Love we are simply projecting our own desires onto our mates and sometimes our friends. We are in fact, Loving them how we want to be Loved. The disconnect comes when the person does not receive Love the way we give it. Sometimes, we may also act in a certain way hoping that they catch the hint or hear us silently screaming “PLEASE LOVE ME LIKE THIS”. Gary Chapman breaks this concept down perfectly in the book ‘5 Love Languages’. What are those 5 Love languages, you ask? Below is an explanation of each of them given by Chapman.
1.) Acts of Service
Can helping with homework really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. When others serve you out of love (and not obligation), you feel truly valued and loved.
2.) Quality Time
In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Whether itʼs spending uninterrupted time talking with someone else or doing activities together, you deepen your connection with others through sharing time.
3.) Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are heartfelt symbols to you of someone else’s love and affection for you.
4.) Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important— hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.
5.) Physical Touch
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to you.
So now you’ve figured out what your language is but how do you go about learning the language of your mate? According to the author, one can learn a lot simply by listening to what their mate complains about most often. Uh, is there a less annoying way? Eek. Hopefully, having the knowledge of how you Love and receive Love may cause you to tweak your actions regarding your partner and vice versa. We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight so if your boo doesn’t start catering to your need for acts of service right away try to remember that they may be speaking to you in their own language. That foot rub he gives you after you’ve spent a day in killer heels is his way of saying “I Love You”. Whether you are single, dating, engaged or married, I think it is important to be aware of not only your own language, but those of the people you Love. Otherwise, you’d find yourself lost in translation.
Which of these do you best identify with? Do you have one language or are you bilingual? Were you aware that such a concept existed? If so, in what ways have you used it as an aide in bettering your relationship(s)?
There is a quiz on 5lovelanguages.com that you can take to find your primary language and to see what order the others may fall. It may be a fun exercise to do with your partner! If you enjoy it, take it a step further and purchase the book.