Ever gone out of your way to do something for someone you love, only to have that effort go unnoticed, or worse, be rejected or unappreciated? While there may have been other factors at play, chances are, you spoke to that person in a different love language than he/she naturally speaks.
Frequently, we express love in the ways we ourselves would like to receive love. To me, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch are (generally) some of the most meaningful expressions of love. Interestingly, I also more naturally show my love to others through these languages – especially through Words (I am more cautious about expressing love through Touch because of all the harassment hype swimming around these days, and because many people I know seem to be uncomfortable with touch).
[Update: I would now place Quality Time above Words of Affirmation.]
While each of these languages could be expounded upon at great length, I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so I’ll summarize each language briefly:
Words of Affirmation
Receiving/giving words that build up and encourage you or your loved one. “I’m proud of you.”, “It’s a delight watching you _____. You are so good at that.”, and “You handled that so well.” are examples.
Spending time with loved ones. Whether that means going out to dinner – just the two of you – working on a project together, or just sitting by a tree and saying practically nothing (or philosophizing about life), presence is what matters to those with the primary love language of Quality Time.
Pats/slaps on the back, a brush on the shoulder, a warm, long, genuine hug, a neck/back massage (note: when appropriate and not creepy), holding hands…
* One note about the love language of Physical Touch: this does not include sexual drive or a desire for sexual contact. This love language is defined by a desire to give/receive “innocent” physical contact. Individuals with a deep sex drive may also express and experience love through nonsexual Touch, and individuals with Touch as a primary love language may not express a deep desire for sex. These two types of physical contact are different entities, and while they may both be manifested within a loving romantic relationship, sexual drive is not a love language or a component of one. *
Acts of Service
This could involve completing a task for a loved one when you know they’re tired, stressed, or out of time or energy. Or spontaneously performing that chore or dirty job because you know they hate it and you just want to give them a break. (Note: some people are possessive of certain tasks, and there is a “right” way to do them. So try to be aware of this, and not assume responsibility for a task that your loved one is not prepared to give away). 🙂
And last but not least….
Not to be confused with materialism.
If you like lots of stuff, and you like it when people give you lots of stuff that you like, Gifts is not necessarily your primary love language. Perhaps you simply like to collect or want to acquire a particular item, and a gift happens to be a convenient way for you to do that, so you put it on your birthday/Christmas list.
Someone with the love language of Gifts experiences an emotional connection because of the thoughtfulness or meaning of a gift. That gift might be homemade, purely sentimental, and not “practical” (tasty, expendable, etc.) at all. But the uniqueness, thoughtfulness, or personal sacrifice of the gift reminds you just how well your loved one knows and cares for you, and it tells you that that person was thinking specifically of you. Such gifts may be given at any time of the year, and for a Gifts person, this spontaneity and round-the-year giving is something they crave. The gift may cost nothing at all. Monetary expense is generally irrelevant here.
That’s love languages in a nutshell! To determine what your love language(s) might be, take this quick test: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ and read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman.