Here's the short summary in all its cheesy goodness: We all have a love tank. It's a tank that is filled by receiving love and emptied in giving love. We receive and give love through five main ways, or languages. These languages, with a short definition are:
- Physical Touch: This can be a hug, an arm around the shoulder, hand holding, whatever. It's intentional and not necessarily romantic.
- Quality Time: This tends to be one-on-one time with someone else. It doesn't have to be direct communication with the other person. Quality time has more to do with being present with another person. It can be a conversation over coffee or working on your computers next to each other.
- Gifts: Pretty straight-forward here. This is the act of being thoughtful about giving to another person. Again, don't think romantic or grand gesture. It's more like giving something sentimental or something that shows you're listening.
- Words of Affirmation: To speak or write to someone as to affirm their character or actions.
- Acts of Service: Mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, volunteering, taking the kids for the day -- these are all types of acts of service.
According to Chapman, these are the five main languages by which love is poured out of us or poured into us.
And here's the key: We all have one dominate love language.
The question is, "how do you know which is your love language?"
One of the key indicators is to ask, "what is the one way I most often try to show people I love them?" Most of us tend to give love in the way we like to receive love; it's just a natural response to how good it makes you feel. You assume others receive love that way as well. That's not necessarily the case though. More often than not, another person's love language is going to be different than yours. The key is to understand not only how you receive love, but how you might have to give love to someone whose language is different than yours. The goal is to become "fluent" in them all so that you can adapt depending on the other person's love language.
Why is this important? Well, isn't it frustrating when you feel like you are really showing someone you love them, but they come back saying they never really feel loved? Have you ever wondered why? It is most likely because you're not speaking their love language to them. The sooner you're able to learn how someone you care about truly loves to be loved, you've got a major advantage.
If you're still lost on learning your own love language, here's another way to figure it out. Ask yourself what you appreciate most, or when you feel the most loved by others. You can do it by comparing that to other love languages. For example, gifts are great. And I do feel loved when I get a gift, especially a thoughtful gift. But if The Wifey or any family or friends never gave me any gifts, even on days when it's the norm to give them, I'd be fine. I wouldn't feel less loved by them because I am not filled up by getting gifts.
That leads to the next point. It's not that your primary love language is the only way you feel loved; like I said, I do feel loved when I receive gifts. All the languages are ways to give and receive love. Rather, your primary love language is the way that your tank is filled fullest and in the fastest way possible.
This is how I know, for me, that quality time is my love language. I have many friends who don't live near me. It's so much harder to get quality time with them than it is, say, with The Wifey, who I get to spend quality time with every day, whether it be talking through our days, eating dinner together, or watching TV. The tank is super full! But with my friends and family it's a lot more difficult. But I've seen that when I get a real good phone conversation in, or a long time of back and forth texting about life or another topic, I feel the love.
Knowing how you receive love is great, because you can subtly coach those important to you on how they might be able to show they love you better. The selling point to them can be like, "I know you get frustrated that I'm not super grateful when you mow the lawn for me all the time, but listen, if you hug me in the morning before work, I'm good for a week!" What we want to be able to do is communicate to others that in understanding our love language, they have the opportunity to make me feel loved without worrying about it "not working."
Love languages are a powerful tool in understanding yourself and others. Identifying them is a great way to grow in how we love one another. I've known that I'm a quality time guy for over a decade now and it's been immensely helpful to know that about myself. What's been even better is learning how to identify others' love languages, like The Wifey's, who is totally a words of affirmation lady.
So what about you? What's your love language? How do you know?
By the way, if you're still stuck, here's a website that might help: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/