The Five Love Languages
“How do we meet each other's deep emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn to do that and choose to do it, then the love that we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated” - Dr. Gary Chapman, 'The 5 Love Languages'
The languages of love refer to the way we communicate 'Love' to one another. The way we express and receive love differs between individuals as we all have unique memories and experiences. Falling in love with somebody can happen suddenly or over time, and we would tend to agree that normally we don't have much control in terms of how and when this happens. We get bitten by the love bug and find ourselves constantly thinking about and wanting to be with the other person. If these feelings are reciprocated, the period of infatuation known as being 'in love' blooms. Fuelled by lust, affection and the whirlwind of a new romance, we are often oblivious to the other person's faults and flaws.
As the relationship develops, these flaws become amplified as more time is spent together and less consideration is taken in actively showing appreciation for one another. During this time, if a couple lacks proper communication and understanding of how one another gives and receives love, it can create numerous arguments and conflicting emotions which often leads to feelings of resentment, insecurity, falling 'out of love', and eventually separation. Through extensive study and research, counsellor Dr. Gary Chapman has identified 5 key languages people use to communicate their love, and how important it is to learn the love language of your partner if true emotional fulfilment is to be achieved. The key love languages consist of Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
- Words of Affirmation
Identified as words of encouragement or compliments given to show appreciation, affirming words can be written or spoken and are usually simple phrases that provide a boost of confidence in another. Verbal compliments are far greater motivators than nagging words and may even allow your partner to discover untapped potential that has been hidden in their own doubt and insecurities. Showing gratitude by verbalising your appreciation can have a dramatic effect on the way your partner behaves towards you and the people around them.
- Quality Time
While spending time with your partner is extremely important in any relationship, those who speak with quality time as their primary love language require a little more focus in making time to give your partner your undivided attention. Quality conversation and interactions involve sharing your thoughts, feelings, emotions and (at times) memories with each other. Simple activities such talking while sharing a meal, taking a walk or class together, even dancing together are all ways to spend quality time with each other. Quality time is all about being present in the moment and giving your partner focused attention.
- Receiving Gifts
Gifts are identified as visual symbols of love. They represent a moment of thought and consideration for someone and can carry great emotional value. Gifts can be purchased, made, found, or even being present at an event or activity planned together. More often than not, the cost of a gift is of little importance. That being said, it can be relevant to the status of wealth you or your partner may be in. To be an effective gift giver, your attitude towards money may have to change. Saving and investing money can increase our self-worth and add to our feelings of security, however it can be just as important to invest in a gift for your partner if you have a high status of wealth, especially if this is your partners primary love language.
- Acts of Service
Expressing love by doing things for your partner can require thought, planning, time, effort and energy, but always with a positive spirit. It involves doing things your partner would appreciate, doing things to serve them and their needs at the time. Encouraging or polite requests give love direction, but demands halt the flow of love. Criticisms from your partner are often the loudest in the area where an emotional need is not being fulfilled, however acts done out of guilt, fear or resentment are not gifts of love and you should not feel obliged to do things that make you feel unappreciated or used. This is where respect for yourself, your partner and your relationship comes into play. Giving love by serving your partner may not always be enjoyable, but they should make you feel good about yourself and your partner after you have completed them.
- Physical Touch
Unlike the other love languages, physical touch is not limited to one aspect of emotional demand. Our bodies contain many tactile receptors and nerves which carry impulses to the brain. These receptors are formed in clusters which means that some areas of the body are far more sensitive than others. These receptors tell us whether something is hot or cold, hard or soft, and of course, loving or hostile. Physical touch can make or break a relationship as it can communicate love or hate. If this is the primary love language of your partner, physical touch is a far greater indicator of emotion than words. You may feel that lovingly touching your partner anywhere can express your love but it is important to keep in mind that it may not be received equally as we all have varied experiences in life. People can make the mistake of touching someone in their own way and time without first discussing what is comfortable and what is not. What may be pleasurable to you could make your partner feel uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Communication is key, and for a person with physical touch as their primary love language, nothing is more important than holding them when they cry. Physical touch can be expressed as explicit touching, as well as implicit touching such as holding hands, embracing one another, making contact with them as you brush past, running your hand through their hair, and/ or simply kissing or hugging your partner when you leave the house and return home again.
It is important to remember that deep emotional and meaningful love is a choice, and it is up to you to choose to love your partner every day by knowing and speaking to them in their correct love language.