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The Five Love Languages

[Photo: 9 roses of my love by Quarrion]

Take a moment to think about what makes you feel loved and appreciated. What must be present in your closest relationships in order for you to be content and happy? Do you love to receive compliments? Do you enjoy receiving large and small tokens of apprecitaion? Do you crave spending quality time with your loved ones?

Now think about how you express your heartfelt emotions to others. Does it mirror the manner in which you enjoy love to be communicated to you? Most of us typically express our love in the manner we wish it to be expressed to us. However, have you ever considered that what makes others feel loved is not the same as what makes you feel loved? Have you struggled in relationships where you devoted great efforts to expressing your heartfelt feelings, but the other person found it difficult to understand and experience your emotions? Perhaps the reason for the miscommunication was that you were speaking a language the other person could not understand -- that is, perhaps you were speaking in an unfamiliar love language.

In the book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman asserts that people express and recieve love in different manners. Chapman claims that love is typically expressed in five ways he titles the "love languages":

  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch

While each of us most likely expresses our feelings via a mixture of some or all of the love languages, we each have a primary language with which we most identify. Our primary love language is the one that, when spoken to us, triggers feelings of love and appreciation. Our primary love language is also a reflection of the manner in which we express our own emotions to others.

Consider what happens when two people with different primary love languages try to foster a relationship with each other. Emotional expressions will most likely result in many miscommunications and misunderstandings, as each person's expressions of love cannot be fully understood by the other. For example, if my partner's primary love language is acts of servie and I continually buy him gifts as expressions of my love, I am not communicating my feelings in a manner he can fully understand and relate. If I do not perform acts of service for him on a regular basis, he will feel that I do not tend to his emotional needs (despite the fact that I think I am -- can you imagine the arguments that will ensue?).

When we are not capable of speaking our loved one's primary love language -- consciously or not -- the risk is great that our loved one will not know and experience the depth of our feelings. In these situations, if the dynamics at play are not carefully examined and modified, both parties will eventually feel emotionally exhausted, unloved and unappreciated. The relationship will be poisoned slowly over time as each person begins to withdraw from the other. However, by taking the time and effort to learn our loved one's primary love language, we can begin to modify our behavior in order to prevent emotional stagnation from occuring. In my previous example, my partner might experience my love more fully if I cooked dinner or helped out around the house instead of buying him presents.

The concepts presented in Chapman's book are very insightful and eye opening. The principles can be applied to all relationships in our lives, romantic or platonic (in particular, parent-child relationships). Taking the time to determine your own primary love language and that of those important to you, will afford your relationships a new dimension.

Be sure to express your primary love language to your loved ones -- we can't expect others to guess our needs -- and be sure to identify the primary love language of those close to you. You may have to learn to speak one or more of the love languages with a new proficiency, but your efforts will be well worth the challenge. You will more effectively receive and experience love and appreciation, and you will be able to return the favor to those you love!

What makes you feel loved and appreciated? Which is your primary love language?


Excellent thought process here. Once agin you lead us inside ourselves. Thank you for doing that.

Don,

Definately. I appreciate topics like this a lot... Ones that cause me a true emotional pause when I think about them.. Both, from my own perspective, and in a case like this one, an even longer pause when I realize I'm not sure I could answer "for" the other person at all. Do I know what her list is? More than just the order, do I know the extent of how much each matters to her?

As an aside, for those that are currently partnered up with someone, I'd offer you this activity/challenge: Have each of you write up the order of languages from Angela's (Chapman's) list the way you think your partner would have ranked them for themselves. Along with that, something I'm gonna talk about in a little bit, how much do you think each matters to them?

When you've got your list written down, swap lists. Ideally without judgement :), try to objectively understand why the other person answered the way they did for you. Do you cast the shadow that you intend to? Do you make it clear which language(s) you want most to talk with, and has your partner heard you? Mismatches here don't necessarily mean they aren't listening (nor that they don't want to know).. it may well be that you need to find a different way to let them know.

--

For myself, the list alone didn't quite tell the story of "me", and what I need (and don't need) from a relationship. Very simply ranked, I'd have said:

1. Quality time
2. Physical touch
3. Words of affirmation
4. Acts of service
5. Gifts

Missing from this is how much any of the items matter to me, and what the lack of any of these means to me, as well. I see each of these on a scale with a couple Sliders of Importance(tm). A scale from 10 to -10... representing the varying degrees of these.

e.g. Physical touch: 10 may require your partner to always be in contact with you, regardless of setting/circumstance... whereas -10 may indicate an equivellant requirement that your partner never touch you at all, regardless of setting.. A person (X) with their little Sliders of Importance at 10 and 8, is going to require a ton of physical attention from (Y), and even if their partner offers something like a 4, it isn't going to be enough for X to think that Y loves/appreciates them. Y might have said 5 and -5, and to them, a 4 is pretty damn good, and should be appreciated. The scaling difference here is a big deal.. because Y won't understand why 4 isn't good enough - it's almost at the very top of their scale. In the same case, Y might very well hold 5 to be the upper limit of what she's comfortable with, and X treating her at an 8 is crossing the line. Too much can be just as bad as not enough. They might both have ranked Physical Touch in their #1 spot, but the importance to each matters, too. :) If X continues at 8, there's trouble.. And if Y continues at 4, there's trouble. If neither knows the other's scale, it's pretty hopeless to ever work towards a compromise.

So, that said, I'd say this:

1. 10,-1 Quality time
2. 8,-2 Physical touch
3. 5,-5 Words of affirmation
4. 5,-5 Acts of service
5. 3,-8 Gifts

It's important to me to spend time and "just be" with my partner.. I'm happier with them than I am alone. There's certainly gonna be a lot of times when we've got to be apart, and that's not some grand showstopper for me, but I wouldn't want to purposely live in a different state as her, say. :) The same goes for physical touch.. that's a huge part of who I am with people I care about. I say 8 because I -don't- want to just have somebody hanging off me all day.. but I'd still much rather be in contact than not. On the other side, I could mostly care less about gifts and stuff like that.. here and there, some random something is obviously touching :), but it'd have zero impact on how I feel about our relationship.

--

The topic's a great one though.. thanks for asking us to think about it :)

Here's my order:

Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Physical Touch
Acts of Servie
Gifts

But I'd also argue that it's not a static list... that we each have times where the lines of order are blurred and moments where any aspect of the list can become the greatest need for fulfilment.

Loki, great suggestions! I am impressed as you basically summarized the remainder of Chapman's book without even reading it! :) I think this process is also extremely important for parent-child relationships. The process is obviously more difficult with younger children as parents will need to rely on trial and error and observation to determine their children's love languages.

genderist, thanks for sharing. You made a great point when you indicated that your list is not necessarily static. I think Chapman would argue that your less dominant languages may vary, but that your true primary language will not. He asserts that each of us has one language which is far more important to us than the others. Without this primary language present in our relationships, we will not feel emotionally fulfilled. He argues that at first thought it may be difficult to identify one of the languages as the most important, but that once your emotional priorities are closely examined, it will be quite clear. Food for thought...

1.Physical touch
2.Quality time
3.Acts of service
4.Words of affirmation
5.Not very interested in gifts

If we are hugging and reaching out to pat and touch throughout the day, that is automatically quality time. And actions mean so much more to me than words.

Really liked this post.

Wow we homo escapeons love to make lists about everything.
I would have to add my zodiac sign (Saggy), my colour (Winter), my Personality type (IITJ:Introvert/Intuitive/Thinker/
Perceiver)into the mix...with a little Men Are From Penis and Women are from Venus.

I'm old fashioned...
Lots of 'Quality' time engaged in Physical touching coupled with Words of affirmation like YES YES!which shouldn't have to seem like an Act of service in return for supplying gifts.

TechnoBabe: Thanks for sharing and thanks for visiting!

H.E.: You are an introvert? I find that hard to believe! Thanks for setting me straight -- I always thought old fashioned guys such as yourself were a dying a breed! And they say chivalry is dead!

Here's my list:

1. Quality time
2. Physical Touch
3. Words of Affirmation
4. Acts of service
5. Gifts

I love spending time with those important to me!

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