I would be so bold as to suggest that life’s greatest happiness is found in good relationships, and life’s deepest hurt is found in bad relationships.” — Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages
Do you want to have better relationships with everyone around you? Do you want improved communication with your friends, family, and romantic partner?
“It’s called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman,” the young guy yelled to me over the cheers for the baseball game. “I think you’ll like it.” I don’t usually read books recommended to me by random guys I meet in Texas dive bars, but this time I made an exception.
I read the book with zero expectations. The basic premise is that everyone “speaks” a love language that they use in their relationships with others. The idea seemed a bit fluffy to me at first. A “love language” sounded like something Oprah would talk about in her book club. But I gave it a go despite my doubts.
By the end of the book, I was a believer in love languages. Damn you, Oprah!
Things became more clear as to why I get frustrated with friends, family members, and romantic partners. Miscommunication is a huge source of misunderstanding and this book gave me ideas to reflect on as to why those miscommunications were happening.
If you want to have more successful relationships with others, it helps to know what kinds of love languages you and the people around you are speaking.
Do you want to find out which love language you speak?
1. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are compliments, positive feedback, and encouragement.
Quite simply, this love language is about saying nice things to other people.
This is a strong love language for me. It’s part of the reason I write this blog. When people tell me my writing inspires them I light up. But love languages work two ways and I also enjoy giving words of affirmation. I’m the guy who goes into the kitchen at a restaurant to compliment the chefs if I loved the meal. I build my friends up when they feel down. It makes me feel good to bring a smile to someone else’s face.
Are you like me? Do you recognize yourself in this love language? If not…keep reading.
This chapter in the book was the biggest surprise for me. I didn’t imagine that giving and receiving gifts is a language of love.
Personally, I don’t like receiving gifts. I feel like I owe the person something when I’m given a gift. I’ve always had the opinion that if I need something, I’ll buy it myself. Maybe this speaks more to my minimalistic attitude or penchant for being frugal. I don’t know.
But I learned that this is the primary love language for many people. This is the type of person who won’t throw away an old teddy bear because it was a gift from a loved one long ago. This is you if you feel wanted and cared for when you’re given a simple card or token of appreciation. Gifts can be powerful for many people.
I realize now that I didn’t give gifts enough credit and I know I’ll look at gift giving differently after reading the book.
But, still…please don’t give me any gifts. Unless I can eat them. Thanks.
3. Acts of Service
Helping others is universally accepted as an expression of love.
An act of service could be as simple as asking your loved one, “What can I help you with today?” For someone whose love language is acts of service, that little question could make the difference between Saturday night sex and sleeping on the couch.
People whose love language is acts of service are the ones you can always count on to be there to help you build a new deck or babysit your child in a pinch.
This love language could also be yours if you find yourself getting frustrated when other people don’t offer to help you prepare dinner, plan for a vacation, or move a piece of furniture. Remember, people can’t read minds. If you want help, ask for it.
4. Quality Time
“Gotta put in some QT with the wife tonight,” he says. And by “he” I mean way too many boyfriends and husbands that don’t give quality time enough respect.
Because quality time might be your partner’s love language. Spending a night in to cuddle could be the most powerful expression of love you can offer them. But if you’re thinking that it’s just a waste of time and excuse to hang out with each other then you’re probably missing the boat.
Quality time doesn’t just pertain to romantic partnerships, though. Quality time could be eating dinner as a family, a walk with a friend after dinner, or playing cards with your grandmother.
Do you appreciate quality time with others? Do you know anyone in your life who might speak this love language?
5. Physical Touch
I’m not going to lie…I love to be touched.
When I was in Grade 1 and we had to sit on the floor around the teacher for story time, I remember my classmates and I would “draw” on each other’s backs with our fingers. I loved to be touched and back then it wasn’t in a sexual way. These days, nothing makes me happier than a massage, touch on the leg under a dinner table, or kiss on the neck from my partner.
But physical touch can also be a reassuring hand on your shoulder, a hug when you’re feeling down, or a high-five from a teammate. Physical touch makes us feel connected.
Of course, many people are not as comfortable with physical contact as me. I know some people are appalled when others touch them without asking first. And that’s fine. If you’re that person, all the power to you. But if you find a romantic partner whose love language is physical touch, you might be doomed from the get-go.
Did you identify with any of the five love languages?
Love languages are an interesting concept and I encourage you to pick up the book and give it a read. Each love language has its own chapter, so you can really dive in and find out where you fit.
And not only will you find where you fit in, you’ll start figuring out the love languages of the people around you. When you have a better understanding of what makes you and others feel love, you can start to become more aware. Miscommunications will disappear because you know how to express your feelings and expectations clearly and in the language that it needs to be spoken.
If we all start appreciating each other’s unique ways of expressing love and develop more awareness around our own love languages, I believe we can move towards more positive, fulfilling relationships in all areas of our lives.
P.S. If you’re interested in taking a quiz to find out which love language is yours, click HERE.