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. It is a book that had been on my reading list for years. Recently, I decided to plunge in and I also took the love language test.
Understanding the way I love and perceive to be loved was life-changing. Since finding out what my main love languages are, my past experiences started to make more sense to me.
Learning about love languages has also allowed me to rethink relationships. I learned each one of us has a primary love language, which may be different from our partners, family members, or friends.
Many issues can arise when love languages are not understood or cared for. Such differences can impact the quality of our relationships and the way we feel and give love.
The 5 Love Languages
In total, there are 5 love languages. We are usually more fluent in one or two of them. For instance, my primary and secondary love languages are physical touch and quality time. You can find yours here.
People may say I’m a good writer, a good listener, a good this or that. However, none of these has a massive impact on what Dr Gary calls the “love tank”. They are not representative of my primary language.
Here is what usually happens to me. An I love you not backed up by concrete actions or focused attention doesn’t make much sense to me. It may work for a little while, but it doesn’t usually fulfil my need for love.
We understand and feel loved more easily when it is expressed in our love language. That’s why loving someone and making that person feel loved are two different things.
Do you want to learn even more?
Get the book here:
Before getting familiar with Dr Chapman’s work, I had no idea that I had a particular way of feeling and experiencing love. As a result, I used to rationalize my unmet needs a lot.
My partners did not appreciate the importance of quality of time as much as I do. They had different love languages. As a result, I simply assumed I was hard to love. I thought I was demanding and too complex.
I just have a particular way of feeling and expressing love, which I was not aware of. On top of this, I also understood not everyone around me shares that same perception and feeling.
For me, love is about sharing time with another in a significant and thoughtful way. It requires intention and positive regard. It asks for undivided attention and sensitivity toward one’s likes and dislikes.
Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruellest of punishments.
— Gary Chapman
Being involved in something physical during that time is equally important to me. I will give you a specific example. I crave adventure and newness, so going for a walk in the wild or having a good laugh fills up my heart.
I’m sure there are more ecstatic things for other people. Otherwise, the other love languages wouldn’t exist. Maybe love would be easier, but the truth is that each one of us gives and receives love differently.
According to Dr Chapman, to make sure love lasts we must find ways to understand, respect, and honour our partner’s love language. We must commit to knowing one another.
To give you a head start, here is the worst and the best you can do to show love to your partner based on their primary love language:
|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 favourite treat
– Offer them a trip
Giving and receiving love should be relatively easy, right?
We know that reality is more complex than that though. People perceive and feel love differently. Gary Chapman’s work teaches us that.
Whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, you can benefit from identifying your primary love language. You will know more about yourself and potentially improve the way you give and receive love.
If you wish to take a step further and learn more about love languages, I strongly recommend The 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman.
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