I first came across love language when a mindfulness course touched on the 5 love languages. It made sense to me. Straight away I figured out what my husband’s love language would be although I wasn’t sure about mine, wavering between a couple. I was intrigued … I wanted to find out more.
What is love language?
Dr Gary Chapman created the concept of the 5 love languages. The theory outlines five ways that we express and experience love that Dr Chapman calls “love languages”:
- gift giving
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service (devotion)
- physical touch
He theorizes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love, and better communication can be accomplished when one can show caring to the other person in the love language the recipient understands.
Dr Chapman argues that while each of these languages is enjoyed to some degree by all people, a person will usually speak one primary language, but all are important.
Despite a lack of research into this theory, experts say there may be psychometric validity to the 5 love languages. Whilst searching, I’ve seen many testimonials to the difference this approach has made to communication both in a romantic relationship and familial relationships. The first of many books, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, was published in 1992 and has sold over 10 million copies in English and translated into 49 other languages. Either the public is deluding itself or there really is something to Dr Chapman’s concept.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.
How can it help you?
Take the test on www.5lovelanguages.com to see your primary and secondary language. I think you’ll know whether the results are typical of how you prefer to receive love and how you communicate love. Get your partner to take the test. There is also an option for a child to complete the questions so it might be helpful to complete with your child too. The questions I answered were phrased simply with only two questions each page where you say either one or the other.
My test results: 9 Acts of Service 8 Quality Time 6 Receiving Gifts 5 Words of Affirmation 2 Physical Touch I would agree with the primary and secondary language for receiving love but surprised to see Physical Touch with such a low score. I’m a definite hugger and often give a thoughtful touch, a rub on the back and a shoulder massage to relieve tension. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a ‘touchy-feely’ person.
Observe how you feel when you give or receive one of the five languages of love. Do your results tally with your observations? Is your primary or secondary love language in conflict with those around you? Or are you synchronised? Once you’re aware, think about what can you do to make a difference. Or maybe, you don’t need to do anything at all.
In a world where communication is key, it does make sense to figure out our preferred way of expressing and receiving love. Once aware, we can be mindful of our interactions with those around us, helping us to take back control.
If I’ve piqued your interest, Dr Chapman has published several books which include those for parents of children and teenagers, single adults, and a version for men.
Let me know how you get on taking the test. Any surprises? Or is it exactly what you were expecting.