A while ago, I noticed something interesting about myself, as it pertains to romantic love. When I have been in relationships, I always seemed to feel especially adored when the man would pay attention to the things that I loved, and then acted upon them. When my favorite coffee fixings and foods were in his home. When he would bring me a white flower every now and then, just because he knew how much I liked white flowers. One man even bought me ice skating lessons after he overheard me talking about how much I wished I could skate. Yes, those things made me feel cherished. As I looked back further on these relationships, I also realized that I would do those same things for the men in my life. Pick up their favorite dessert while at the store. Get them a subscription to a magazine for something I knew they enjoyed. Maybe put a little note in their jacket pocket. But, surprisingly, I didn’t always get the response from the men I would have expected. One man was not so happy with me, when I put a cute magnet on his refrigerator. Another man told me to add anything on his shopping list that I would like in his kitchen, and yet still I was bringing my own Almond milk and Stevia for my coffee to his home. Then I came upon what is called The Five Love Languages. Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor for over 30 years, realized that most people identified with a primary way in which they feel loved. I am going to tell you what these Five Love Languages are, with a very short description:
- Words of Affirmation: This is praising someone. A “thank you” when they do something nice for you, a “WOW, you look especially gorgeous today,” and of course an “I love you,” or “I care deeply for you,” because you do.
- Acts of Service: this is doing simple tasks for the other, without being asked. Like washing the dishes, ironing their shirt for them, cooking a special meal. Things of that sort.
- Receiving Gifts: they do not have to be anything grand; it really is that the other knows you are thinking about them. And tokens are how they enjoy being shown that.
- Quality time: This is time spent just together, being fully present and fully engaged with each other. Turn off that cell phone and give your attention to your partner.
- Physical Touch: This is exactly as it sounds. Handholding, a wonderful hug, a kiss, sex.
After reading this, it became apparent to me that my primary love language is, obviously, receiving gifts. I looked a little harder at my own past experiences, and saw that I also very much enjoyed putting my arm in the arm of my love while we walked down the street or holding hands, and I usually would touch his arm while talking to him or some other endearing touch as I would walk by him. So it seems that touch is my secondary love language. What I found particularly intriguing, as I was looking back, is I realized that I GAVE the expression of love to others that I wanted to receive, rather than giving them what made them feel valued. Of course, I didn’t know any better. I believe that is probably what most of us do, give what we enjoy receiving. No wonder we are all so baffled. If a man I am involved with, experiences the feeling of love through words of affirmation, and I am giving him little gifts all of the time, he is not feeling it and we are both left disappointed and confused. I found this understanding unbelievably liberating. Once we know our own love language, we can gently explain it to our partner. And when we know theirs, we can express our love to them in a way that will fill their hearts. Such subtle things that make all the difference in coming together! And by the way, The Love Languages are not for romantic partners only. what a wonderful thing to do for all of the people in our lives that we love.
© 2016 Alice Badler