Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving.
The 5 Love Languages was written by Dr. Gary Chapman, and it had been on my reading list for a couple of months. Recently, I decided to plunge in, and I took the online quiz. I found out what my main love languages are, and since then many past experiences started to make more sense to me. There is some relief in understanding the way you love and perceive to be loved. It can be a game-changer when rethinking our relationships because each one of us has a primary love language, and our love language may not match our partner’s.
Our primary love language is the safest and easiest way we have of expressing and perceiving love. Many issues can arise when we and another person speak different love languages, especially when we are not aware of how such differences can negatively impact the quality of said relationship. In total, there are 5 love languages (quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifting). Although we may display each one of these languages, we are more fluent in one or two of them. For instance, my primary and secondary love languages are quality time and physical touch. I love and perceive love based on shared experiences (e.g. sharing a meal) and proximity (e.g. hugs).
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People may say I’m a good writer, a good listener, a good this or that, but none of these will stick and impact my “love tank”, as Dr. Gary calls it, because words of affirmation are not my primary love language. I love yous that are not backed up by concrete actions or focused attention don’t make much sense to me. It doesn’t even matter how much the other person is being truthful and honest. It may work for a while, but it doesn’t fulfill my understanding and need for love. We understand love when it is expressed in our love language. That’s why loving someone and making that person feel loved are two different things.
Before getting familiar with Dr. Chapman’s work, I had no idea that I had a particular way of feeling and experiencing love. I used to rationalize my unmet needs a lot because few people appreciate the quality of time the way I do. As a result, I simply assumed I was hard to love for many years. I thought I was demanding and too complex. Today I know I have a particular way of feeling and expressing love, which is not the same for everyone around me. Love for me is about sharing time with another in a significant and thoughtful way. It requires intention and positive regard. It asks for sensitivity toward the other person’s likes and dislikes. I love others by giving them my time and undivided attention because that’s how I experience and perceive love.
I am and I’ve always been an explorer. I need adventure in my life, even if it’s within my two ears. It’s a need that often hides my natural way of wanting to be loved. There is nothing more uplifting and heartwarming than going for a walk in the wild, sharing a meal, a good laugh, or learning something with someone else. I live by and for those moments. They inspire me to be better and to give back more. I get bored when I do the same over and over again. Or when I must do a chore that has no other intent than the satisfaction of the need of getting it done. Is there something more beautiful than to be in the moment and share that with others? Is there anything more ecstatic than cherishing the moment?
I’m sure there are more ecstatic things for other people. Otherwise, the other four love languages wouldn’t exist, and love wouldn’t be so hard to keep alive. According to Dr. Chapman, to make sure love lasts we must find ways to understand, respect, and honor other people’s love language. I think he’s probably right. Couples often have different love languages, and that’s why they fall in love in the first place sometimes. To make it work though, both must commit to getting to know one another and learn each other’s main love languages. To give you a head start, here is a summary of the 5 love languages:
|Love Language||The Worst You Can Do||The Best You Can Do|
“Being there” is paramount, quality conversations, quality activities
|– Not actively listening|
– Engage in distractions
– Postpone dates
|– Make eye contact|
– Put the technology aside
– Share an Experience/Activity
Physical touch and accessibility bring safety, security, and reassurance
– Abuse of any kind
|– Cuddles & Kisses |
– Play with their hair
– Be nearby
|Acts of Service|
Actions speak more than words
|– Being lazy|
– Break commitments
– Giving them more work
|– Help them proactively|
– Do things for them
– Fix things around the house
|Words of Affirmation|
Words speak more than actions
|– Say “I love you”|
– Send loving text messages
– Make compliments
|Receiving Gifts |
The perfect gift or gesture means being seen and remembered
|– Miss birthdays or important celebrations|
– Thoughtless gifts
|– Give them a “Recuerdo” from a special occasion|
– Bring them their favorite treat
– Offer them a trip
Whether you are or not in a romantic relationship, I think you can benefit from finding out your primary love language. Expressing and receiving love are important aspects of human relationships so I’m sure exploring and making good use of this tool won’t hurt you at all. To take this knowledge a step further, I recommend you read the book The 5 Love Languages and visit Dr. Gary Chapman’s website here.
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