I once got into an argument with one of my friends because I was trying to make her a personalised gift for Christmas and she was doing everything in her power to ruin it. Never have I been so frustrated about something I was equally confused about. Imagine how puzzled I got when my friend ended up being frustrated too, after I told her what I had been trying to do (which she had figured out anyway).
This incident happened a few months after I had been introduced to “the 5 love languages” for the first time. This incident was my first practical example of love languages after my awareness of them and I sure did learn a valuable lesson: if you say you love and truly care about someone, learn about their love languages.
In 1992, Dr Gary Chapman wrote his first book of “The Five Love languages” series. There are basically 5 love languages or 5 major ways in which we tend to give and prefer to receive love. Here is a brief exploration of all the 5 languages, in case you are not familiar with them.
1. Words of affirmation: You are this type of person if you feel loved the most when you receive verbal compliments. You also give compliments to express your love to others. This does not mean that that’s the only way you know how to express love but you are particularly fond of words and believe in their uplifting power. Compliments can increase one’s self esteem; they can brighten a person’s entire day. (Examples: “I love your sense of humour!”; “Your hair looks really good today.”; “I love how you care about people.” Etc.)
2. Acts of service: These people have said at least once how they believe that “actions speak louder than words”. Therefore, complimenting them does not make them feel as loved and valued as cooking for them does, for example. If this is one of your love languages, you are a natural helper.
3. Receiving gifts: These people appreciate gifts; receiving them as well as giving them as a sign of love and appreciation. A meaningful gift means the world to them. This is not to be confused with being materialistic. There is a big difference between wanting and seeing material possessions as the ultimate wealth or as a way of fulfilling emotional and/or spiritual needs, and seeing the same as an act of love and appreciation from the sender; nothing more, nothing less. No unhealthy self-identification.
4. Quality time: This type of people values time spent with loved ones, doing what they enjoy the most. This could be watching their favourite movie together; listening to music or podcasts together; going for a walk, playing a game or dancing together or turning all devices off to just lay there in silence or have an enlightening conversation. The key here is undivided attention. Cancelling or postponing plans regularly really upsets these people and can easily affect your relationship with them in a negative way.
5. Physical touch: If you are a ‘physical touch’ kind of person, you feel loved the most through hugs, holding hands, kisses, etc. These people are not necessarily huge fans of PDA but if they try to hold your hand and you clearly reject them, it will hurt them. They will feel unloved and no amount of words, gifts or acts of service will make them feel better.
You see, because one of my love languages is receiving and giving gifts I assumed it was my friend’s as well (who doesn’t love gifts? well, some people just don’t, folks). It wasn’t until I acknowledged my failure in not knowing enough about my friend’s love languages that I understood where she was coming from. Fortunately, this argument ended up being beneficial to our friendship. We both learned about the importance of being mindful of others’ love languages, especially when we are trying to put a smile on somebody’s face. We also learned to always keep in mind that people usually have our best interests at heart, even when their ways of showing love is not our favourite. This awareness has the power of engendering a whole new level of empathy.
So next time you want to express your love, do it your way but do not forget to be curious enough to know what exactly makes the other person feel loved and valued. Next time somebody loves you in a way which does not particularly excite you, do not dismiss their effort. Do not. Receive it, have the ability to see and appreciate the good intention behind it; that will set the right mood for you to start teaching them about your love languages. When we act from a place of understanding and kindness, it is easier for everybody to speak the same language: love.
You can find more from the author at https://wordsfromwounds.blogspot.com/