Do you know about the “5 Love Languages”?
A framework developed by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman, the five love languages are a way of categorizing the way different people like to show and receive affection.
1. 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.
2. Quality Time: 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.
3. Receiving Gifts: 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.
4. 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 wants 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.
5. Physical Touch: 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.
The descriptions to the right are taken from an interview with Dr. Chapman that you can read here.
Why am I bringing this up?
Yesterday I had a tattoo appointment. My artist & I both love cooking, and he made us dinner while he worked on me. I felt so appreciated and cared for enjoying the meal he made for us after an intense tattoo session & realized cooking is a huge aspect of my love language!
My love language is a combo mostly of ‘acts of service’ with a little bit of ‘gift giving’, really – both giving & receiving. This doesn’t mean the other ways of showing affection mean nothing to me – I’m also super into touch & quality time, and of course like hearing words of affirmation!
However, acts of service are the most natural feeling way for me to feel appreciated or show that I care. If you’ve ever had my cooking, you know.
So… it’s all a little pop psychology-y… but I think important and useful info can definitely be gleaned from this way of looking at things.
I’ve found learning about each language an incredibly useful way to learn how to show affection with each of my partners, friends, lovers and clients in a way that feels natural and meaningful to them.
For example – my partner of several years. Her love language is physical touch! I can get a little wrapped up in the cerebral side of things, forget I’m on planet Earth, etc. (if you want to get into more pop-psychology-but-maybe-there’s-actually-something-to-it you can blame the Libra in me) – and I had to put a lot of intention into learning to ground myself and engage in physical touch with her during every day activities like talking, cooking, shopping, etc…. not just while cuddling or having sex or sleeping next to each other.
Or, take one of my submissive playmates, whose language is ‘words of affirmation’. Hearing “you’re a good boy”, or “good job!” or “thank you, you’ve been so helpful” (that’s us getting both our itches scratched at the same time!) – is what makes him feel the warmest and fuzziest and most appreciated.
Being able to put a name to these different ways of showing affection has vastly improved my communication in different relationships, and in turn, the relationships themselves. We’ll all of course have our native language, but there’s something to be said for all the opportunities of communication opened by being polylingual!
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