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A Guide To The Five Love Languages

Nourishing the Love in our Lives

It’s not always easy to communicate in close and intimate relationships. Some of us are too blunt and honest because we’re afraid of being a pushover, and some of us constantly hold back to protect our loved ones. Fortunately, healthy communication is a skill like any other; with practise, we get better and our relationships get stronger. 

We start by identifying our own needs. Be perfectly clear about what it is that you want out of your relationship, and how you wish to be treated.

I am fiercely independent and I love it when the people I care about, especially the men in my life, recognise my strength and respect it, but in general, men assume women like to be cosseted and pampered which makes it my responsibility to share my needs with my partner. Ideally, as two people get to know one another, they become familiar with each other’s wants and needs, but it’s still important to actively communicate your expectations. Along with relationship health, when we feel loved and cherished (the right way), our self-esteem and confidence also get a boost; knowing your love language can make all that a little easier.

Related: 3 Keys To A Healthy Relationship

What are Love Languages?

It all began with a book. The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, written in 1992, shared the concept of categories that sum up, simply and precisely, how we feel loved and appreciated. The 5 love languages are the five different ways to love and be loved they’re 5 different forms of expression.

The knowledge and insight gained by Dr. Chapman through years of relationship counselling were what led to the conceptualisation of The Five Love Languages. Romantic conflicts happen because our needs differ from those of our partner. Most of us show love exactly how we need to be loved. I feel loved when somebody makes time for me despite their busy schedule, but I may be with someone who needs physical gestures to feel cherished. This difference in our basic nature could lead to misunderstandings that can be avoided if we know each other’s love language.

What are the 5 Love Languages?

To better understand this concept,  you need to the 5 Love Languages-

  1. Words of Affirmations
  2. Quality Time
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Receiving Gifts

1. Words of Affirmations

The Words of Affirmation Love Language is focused on the verbal expression of love and appreciation. People with words of affirmation as a love language value compliments, affectionate texts, love notes, and words of encouragement and support. 

Something like –

“My life is better for your presence in it”

“You’re a great parent and partner.”

“I love that colour on you.”

They need the right words. You must also remember that someone who values words of affection can also be very easily hurt by criticism and carelessly tossed insults.

2. Quality Time

If this is your Love Language, you feel loved when your partner makes time for you, and when you’re together, you get their focused and undivided attention. No digital distractions, lots of eye contact, and active listening! With quality time as your love language, you may also appreciate doing activities together even if it’s just a chill hang at home, lazing on the couch, watching tv or reading books together.

3. Physical Touch

This Love Language is all about physical affection. People with physical touch as their love language need physical signs of affection to feel loved. For children, hugs are essential to create a sense of security, and we all carry this need into our adulthood, but for some of us, physical intimacy is how we feel connected. It can include anything from hand holding to sex, cuddling on the couch, massage, kissing.

Physical touch is not just how some people feel loved, it may even be a source of reassurance and security for them.

Related: Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships with Dr. Kristie Overstreet

4. Acts of Service

For people with acts of service as their love language, they feel loved when someone does something nice and considerate for them. It can be anything that makes their life easier, helps them in some way, and adds weight to their words of love. Through action, you show them how far you’re willing to make them happy.

It can be something as simple as helping with the household chores, buying their favourite dessert, taking care of them when they’re sick, breakfast in bed – if it’s something tangible and adds to their day, they’ll feel incredibly cherished and adored.

5. Receiving Gifts

No confusion with this one. Someone with ‘receiving gifts’ as their love language feels appreciated when they’re given tangible symbols of love. They may not be valuable, but they need to be well-thought-out. This desire is not motivated by a need for material gain, and one should not be judgemental or dismissive of it. What we crave as an adult has its root in our childhood experiences. There can be a lot of reasons why someone would need gifts to feel loved. Perhaps, it allows us to judge how well our loved ones know and understand us. The nature of the gift, the thought and effort behind it can fill any one of us with warmth and security.

How it can help? (…and potential pitfalls)

The concept of ‘Love Language’ is not a new one. It’s also not very comprehensive; it’s however, somewhat effective in that it can help you create a better understanding with your partner. In fact, if you know your Love Language, you can share it with all your loved ones and they instantly get a clear idea of where your interests and priorities lie.

It’s also important to note that one person can have more than one love language. You have a primary love language based on your deepest needs and expectations, but you may find joy in other methods of expression as well. For instance, ‘quality time’ is my primary love language, but I am always moved when someone writes me a thoughtful letter or leaves a note for me. Compliments are always welcome. Just as we may need the words to be accompanied by actions for us to truly believe and trust someone which makes ‘acts of service’ the primary love language, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be held, making ‘physical touch’ almost as important as acts of service.

Another notable point is that love language can change and differ for different relationships. You may find gifts to be more important in a parental relationship, but affirmations may matter in the initial stages of a romantic relationship. Learning your partner’s love language is a step in the right direction, but it’s not sufficient in and of itself.

Related: How To Communicate Issues In Relationships?

Human beings are fairly complicated creatures, and it’s impossible to share all our hopes and dreams with one little category. Active, consistent communication is the only way for your partner, or anyone for that matter, to understand the working of your mind, to predict and anticipate your needs, but knowing your love language and sharing it can be the first step.

Human beings are fairly complicated creatures, and it’s impossible to share all our hopes and dreams with one little category. Active, consistent communication is the only way for your partner, or anyone for that matter, to understand the working of your mind, to predict and anticipate your needs, but knowing your love language and sharing it can be the first step.

If you couldn’t figure out your love language with the descriptions shared, here’s a quiz that can help, but the best resource is the book by Dr. Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts

I hope this quiz, book, and article helps you create a healthier, happier relationship, but this is in no way enough. It can be a good first step, but if you truly want a successful relationship, you need to actively work on your emotional management skills, relationship communication, and cultivate patience and tolerance.
Every day, our relationships (especially, romantic relationships) break a little, and every day, you have to repair them into something stronger. You need to show up every single day and do the work. As you work on your relationships, work on yourself as well. Self-awareness is vital to the success of every venture, and you also need to present which means not taking your relationships or the people in your life for granted.

If you use love languages as a guide, make sure to run an assessment of sorts every few months. We’re ever-evolving creatures which mean that our needs and expectations change with time. It’s important to constantly check-in with yourself and your partner.

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