The 5 Love Languages – a lot of people have heard of them, and it’s easy to find out which is yours. I am a big fan of the love languages and highly recommend learning about them. I love exploring this topic with my clients! If you’re not familiar with the love languages I’ll put an explanation at the end.
As we head into February we’re bombarded with images of hearts and flowers and cupids.
But I thought I’d focus this post on a love that has more depth. The 5 Love Languages are helpful for more than romantic relationships. They can provide insight into friendships, family relationships, and even with co-workers.
I’m going to assume that you are already familiar with the 5 Love Languages. Just in case, they are:
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Most people have a top one or two that are really meaningful for them.
Love languages are a great way to help us to learn more about ourselves and to learn about others.
It’s important to know how we feel most loved and cared for. If we know what is most meaningful for us to feel loved, we can tell others. We can also learn from them what speaks love to them.
As a couples therapist, I do want to add a caution. The idea of languages that speak love is a great one! But we can’t demand that other people always have to show us, love, in our top love language. In a similar way, I can’t go to another country and expect the people there to speak English because I don’t speak their language. We need to have the flexibility and maybe even learn to “translate” how others show us love. Sometimes that can be difficult, but it is so worth it!
The first time I took the 5 Love Languages quiz a friend was reading the questions off to me.
Each time one of the choices involved something to do with Acts of Service I was very puzzled. Here’s one example of a choice: “It’s meaningful to me when someone I love does something special for me to help me out.” My response was, “but, how will they know it’s meaningful to me without asking or without spending time with me?” Another example: “It’s meaningful to me when someone I love does something unexpected for me to help me with a project.” My response was, “why would that be so great? What if they do it wrong?” (If you can’t tell, I can be quite independent.)
It turned out that Acts of Service was my lowest love language (meaning, I much prefer to receive love in other ways). It continues to be low for me. However, over time I began to learn more about what this idea of someone showing love through service could mean. And, I even started to appreciate when someone showed me love and care in this way. I have learned to sort of “translate” it into one of my top love languages. I can think of multiple times that I have now felt so cared for by others because they did something for me. Thankfully, I’ve gained an appreciation for it!
I want to encourage you to think about your top 1 or 2 love languages
(if you don’t know it, you could read the descriptions below or take the online quiz). You love receiving love in those ways. You are also likely an expert at showing love in those languages! There are some people who like to give and receive in other love languages. I want to encourage us all to learn about each love language and seek to show love in multiple ways. Talk about them with others in your life – not just to tell them how you want others to express love to you, but to find out what is important to them.
Here are some ideas for growing your knowledge and experience of the 5 Love Languages:
Try out showing love in different ways.
Learn how to speak another love language!
Try “translating” the way others seek to show you they care (especially if it’s not in your top love language).
Don’t forget to give some grace to those who might not have learned about the different love languages. They might not realize you’re showing love to them in your love language.
You can also think about how these love languages could be applied in different situations. For example, how can you show care and kindness to people you work with? Obviously, you want to keep things on a professional level, but how can you express appreciation to them in a way that might speak most clearly to them?
I hope this will be a helpful way for you to expand your understanding of the 5 Love Languages.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
A brief summary of the 5 Love Languages (in no particular order):
Words of Affirmation –
Words expressing appreciation, love, care, and kindness. Giving unsolicited compliments. Basically, using words in a positive way to share that you care about the person. Unkind words or insults can be especially hurtful for someone with this love language.
Quality Time –
Spending time together. Being able to have good conversations. Focusing on the person and what they have to say. Putting the phone down and paying attention to the person. Distractions, not following through or postponing dates, and not listening will tell this person that they are not loved.
Physical Touch -
Someone with this love language is very “touchy–feely.” (Obviously, in an appropriate way!) It means a lot for them to have hugs, to hold hands, pats on the back, back scratches or rubs – all can show love and care. A lack of physical contact with others would make this person feel very alone and unloved.
Receiving Gifts –
This love language is not about materialism. Instead, it is more about having a physical representation of love. So, even a small gesture can mean a lot. The love, thoughtfulness, and effort all add to the fact that that gift is incredibly meaningful for a person with this love language. Forgetting a gift for an important event or a thoughtless gift would cause this person to feel unloved.
Acts of Service –
Doing things for someone, especially if it shortens their to-do list. This can be anything from offering to clean, pick up something, run errands, and more. Making more work for someone would show this person the opposite of love.
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