The Five Love Languages book was published in 1992 by Gary Chapman and became a worldwide phenomenon in the field of love and relationships. For those who’ve read it, it’s changed the entire way they operate within relationships and how they interact with their spouses and loved ones.
The premise of the book is that we each have a preferred, whether innate or learned, way that we feel and appreciate love. It’s different for everyone and just because we expect it one way, doesn’t mean our partner doesn’t love us because they provide it in another. Here, we’re giving you a quick run down of the five languages. Which are your top ones?
In some families there’s a ton of physical affection, lots of cuddles, kisses, pats on the back, or playful roughhousing. In others there’s barely any touch at all, not because there’s more love in one home than in the other, but because each individual and family collective has a different way of expressing the same emotions.
As individuals from each of these households grow up, their outlook on what it means to feel loved could be entirely different. It may be that a woman who’s grown up with touch as the primary way to communicate love will expect this from her partners. If she happens to fall in love with someone who’s totally void of this inclination, who in fact prefers words, it can lead to feelings of not being cared for or at worst, neglect.
Words of affirmation
We all know people who need what feels like constant affirmation in their lives. They need to hear that they’re loved, that they look nice, have lost weight, are special. The heights of verbal attention they require can feel insurmountable, if they’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand that this is their love language.
It’s easy to be judgemental about this love language and to make assumptions about people who want to hear how we feel about them. They can be unfairly written off as insecure, vain, in need of ego massages or getting too hung up on what’s obvious (that they’re loved or have done a good job etc). Sometimes it’s none of these things, they just experience love in a way that’s different from the people around them.
Providing acts of service for a loved one doesn’t mean being their unpaid lackey or glorified slave, it means completing tasks that are valued by them. It’s not always about your partner not being capable of doing it themselves, or not having the means, but simply that they highly appreciate your help and are able to feel love more keenly this way. It could be anything from taking the bins out for them or cleaning the car, to cooking dinner a few times a week.
Knowing that your partner values acts of service more than say, touch or words, enables you to love them in their language, for the best chance of the message being received.
We can be made to feel guilty for valuing stuff in life. It’s considered shallow, lacking substance or being spoilt if you require flowers, chocolates or trips abroad to make you feel cared for and appreciated. Surely, words and cuddles should be enough, right? Well, no, wrong.
For some people, their primary way of knowing that they’re loved is to receive gifts from others. Again, this may go back to either positive or negative experiences in childhood, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters, is that both people within a relationship recognise when this love language is present and do their best, within their means, to speak it.
Quality time is probably the language you would expect everyone to need and desire within a relationship, but not so, and definitely not to the same extent. Think about it, all the men and women with partners in the armed forces, medical fields, or jobs that require extensive travel and long hours. There are some individuals who admittedly would not be able to cope in this sort of relationship. Quality time is what they value the most and want frequently. It’s not necessarily always ‘neediness’ as it might appear to some, just a preference.
Recognising that you or your partner value quality time over other languages can do wonders for your communication and will likely stop you from feeling that what you’re giving is never enough. It may be that you’re loving at your full capacity in your own language, when they’re needing a completely different one.