The five languages of love is the best kept secret.
We all experience reality differently, according to our filters, perspective, background, and perception of how we feel and what is around us. This means that different people will give and receive love in different ways.
Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 love languages, identifies five ways in which you can express heartfelt commitment to your mate. Recognising these in yourself and your loved one can allow you to get each other, understand each other’s language and profoundly connect you.
So, what are the 5 love languages?
1. Words of Affirmation
Those with this language of love preference need to hear that they are loved in words. It isn’t just about ‘I love you’, it is about ‘thank you’, about being told that they are appreciated, being sent messages, love notes, encouragement, compliments, affirmations about why they are loved and so on. For those who struggle to verbalise your emotions, here’s a simple prompt: if you feel it, say it.
2. Quality Time
Love is best expressed here through undivided attention. Making time to be with a person, regardless of the activity. It can be making dinner together, going for a walk sharing plans for the future, going out for a meal. The idea is that the time is dedicated solely for the purpose of being with each other. This is one of the most widely understood love languages.
3. Physical Touch
For the person with this love language, touching is the most powerful way to express emotional connection. When we are touched, tactile receptors throughout our body are activated and send signals to the brain. The brain transforms these signals into sensations. A simple hug for example, causes your brain to release oxytocin, known as the ‘bonding hormone’. In turn, more ‘feel good’ chemicals are released.
4. Acts of Service
This love language encompasses anything done for the sole purpose of making life easier for your loved one. It can be making coffee for them, taking out the bin, scraping ice off your car or any other gesture big or small that doesn’t benefit you in any way but is just done to help.
5. Receiving Gifts
Gifts represent the thought that someone has had for you. Gary Chapman calls them ‘visual symbols of love’. It truly isn’t about the size or value of the gift; it is all about the gesture. Sunflower seeds and a pack of teabags are some of the most thoughtful and touching gifts I have ever received.
For some people, their love language preference is obvious. For others, not so much. I would struggle to define what mine would be and when you fall in love, you may tap into all five areas equally. Chapman talks about us all having a love tank, which represents our emotional needs. When we fall in love, the love tank is full, but it needs to be kept high. For someone who responds best to the language of physical touch, being without it drains the tank and eventually would drain the relationship. You may forever tell them you love them, but if the physical element isn’t there, it would be difficult to fulfil their need.
Being and staying happy with someone is quite simple, really, when you understand the 5 languages of love. If you want their happiness as much as you want yours (if you don’t… you’re reading the wrong blog!), it doesn’t require a lot of effort. Without ever compromising who you are or your fundamental values, you only need to learn a little about their love language to make sure nothing gets lost in translation and that they feel loved and understood.
In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous’.