How do you give and receive love? Is that a question that you ever stopped to think to answer before? Whether you have or not, this article is all about the conversation of love languages and how we can better love ourselves and one another by understanding them.
We often don’t stop to think about it this way but we all tend to show love in at least one of five ways: touch, words, gifts, actions, or time? Would you rather cuddle up close with your partner or hear a heartfelt “thank you” because you made dinner after a busy day at work? Do you take the time to pick up groceries when you know someone else can’t do it? Or maybe you just want to sit with someone you love and talk about how each of your days went? These are examples of ways that our love languages can be communicated and evoke a sense of love within any relationship that you have. In what ways do you make sure that the most important people in your life know that they are very important and loved by you? How do they also know that what they are doing for you is valued? With an understanding of love languages, we can clearly communicate all that and more with the ones we love.
Understanding how you give and receive love means understanding your love language. We all have a different one because we all have different desires, wants, and needs in life and in love. For example, someone may want to be close to their partner and they show this by leaning into them as they walk or stand together in a room. They communicate their desire by showing their partner that close proximity makes them feel safe. One might desire the time and attention of a loved one and they show this by sitting on the couch and talking about every detail of their day or week. Oftentimes, our desires and wants can change depending on where we are in our lives, so don’t be surprised if your love language shifts as you grow and your relationships evolve. It is important to understand that when our desires and wants change, our love language can, too. There are primary and secondary love languages that we all fall under, and having a clear understanding of yours, in addition to that of the people you love is vital.
The most common collection of desires that most human beings have; inspired marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, to introduce the five love languages. There are five guidelines that when we are knowledgeable about them for the people we love, it makes it easier to “meet one another needs in a relationship” aka love each other better. The love languages and how they are identified provide a way to understand your partner/family or friends so that you can show love in the ways that each other registers, receives and ultimately appreciates the most.
While it may be that someone fits under one love language completely, a person can also identify with two – one that shows how that person likes to receive love and then another for how they like to show it. The five love languages are acts of service, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation. Understanding what characteristics fit under each love language will help one know if that might be the love language they communicate with.
The Five Love Languages
Acts of Service
1. Acts of Service: If your love language is acts of service then actions speak louder than words for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want your loved ones to always do things for you, it’s more than they are putting in the effort to make your life a little easier and being helpful. For example, if you are extremely busy with work and looking after the kids, and your partner takes it upon themselves to pick up the necessary ingredients from the store so that they can make dinner, then that speaks to you. The fact that they decided to take it upon themselves to do something that you usually would, shows how much they value you and care for you. If you tend to do things like this for the people you love, then you most likely prefer to give love with “acts of service”. With this love language, a simple action can show the utmost love.
2. Physical Touch: This one goes beyond what one would assume it means – that the love language of physical touch is just another way of saying “let’s have sex.” Instead, this love language is based upon connecting with someone simply through touch. Touch could be hugging, cuddling, holding hands, or just being in close proximity to someone. You would much rather have a long lingering hug or an arm around you when you walk than anything else. Being physically close to or physically touching someone makes you feel your strongest. You are one for a literal physical connection.
3. Quality Time: You simply just enjoy spending time with your loved one, just the two of you. If your partner makes time to hang with just you and gives you their full attention, you are in heaven. This means a bit more than just sitting and hanging out though. It means the most when the person you’re spending time with has gotten rid of all distractions and is fully present with you. When the phone is put away on a date night, or when you’re having a girl’s night with your best friends, and they listen to every bit of you when you tell them about your day, this is when their love is speaking to you. Being able to spend time with your loved one and actively listening and responding to one another is how you show love. It’s how you show you care.
4. Receiving Gifts: This one doesn’t mean that you want the most expensive gifts all day every day. Instead, you’ll take the smallest of things, like flowers or your favorite snack, because it communicates that you were on someone’s mind and that they were thinking about you. The thoughtfulness of the gift reminds you that they remember what you like to receive and that they put in the effort to bring it to you even when you were not expecting it. And if it’s something that you can keep as a reminder that makes it even better. It does not have to be the most extravagant thing, as long as it’s thoughtful and comes from the heart you’re all for it.
Words of Affirmation
5. Words of Affirmation: Words speak louder than actions for you if this is your love language. A connection with your loved ones comes from the few kind words shared between you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you just want compliment after compliment. Instead, words like “thank you” and “I appreciate you” are the ones you like to hear. Acknowledgment of and recognition for the things that you do shows that the person values you. You like when your loved one says “I appreciate you doing that” after you fill up their gas tank or pick up the groceries they need. Words are comforting to you, especially when they come from your loved one in recognition of the efforts you’re putting forth.
So, when you think about what your love language may be, think back to what has made you feel most loved in your relationships and what you valued while you were in those relationships.
If you want help with learning your love language you can take the free quiz at https://www.5lovelanguages.com. Once you’ve discovered what your love language is, it is important to learn your partner’s as well. Knowing the things that make each of you feel loved, like flowers on a tough day or taking out the trash without being asked, can make the world of difference and help keep your connection healthy and strong. The pressure to be perfect for one another is diminished, because you understand that relationships aren’t perfect but you know what sort of actions, words, and touches can get them to be pretty close. Understand that it is totally fine if your partner’s love language is different from yours. You will just need to provide them with the love they need and they’ll need to learn what they can do to provide the love you need. The successes and trials of discovering what those are will only make the relationship stronger.
This will lead to a better understanding of one another and a stronger/ healthy relationship. Identifying what you need and what makes you feel special gives you better insight into yourself so that you can be as transparent as possible with your loved ones. It will be easier for you to make genuine connections with each person and thrive within your relationships. Whether you are single or in a relationship currently, understanding how you give and receive love can aid in making you the best partner that you can be.
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