(This article was originally intended to appear on Evolyfe, but they’re doing some restructuring so I’m posting it here. The Self Help Book Top 5 will continue tomorrow as planned!)
Showing how much you love someone can be done in countless different ways. Following them home, wearing their blood in a vile around your neck, sitting on their bed in the middle of the night eating a popsicle…
Oh no, wait. That’s stalking. Don’t get those two mixed up: go with love. It involves more actual positive feelings and less restraining orders. But…Love can also be expressed in lots of different ways! Doctor Gary Chapman, a smart man, wrote a book about the different ways and it was called the 5 Languages of Love. It is brilliant in its simplicity: according to the book we communicate our love through 5 different ‘languages’:
Compliments, words of praise and encouragement, saying ‘I Love You’. This also includes expressing that we miss them, that they are beautiful and that they are important to us.
This isn’t (just) about sexy time, but about intimacy and showing affection through physical contact, such as hugs, kisses, holding hands, sitting close to each other and cuddling.
Gift giving is about the attentiveness and thoughtfulness more than it is about the actual stuff. By giving gifts, however small or big, we can express that we love them, because we have been paying attention to what they like, what they love to have. They can see that we listen. Because they may have mentioned something a long time ago: we remembered and we acted upon it.
Spending time together, making time for your partner, is another way to communicate your devotion to your partner. This could include going on dates,a quiet night in with just the two of you, or a lazy rainy Sunday to spend in bed together.
Service entails doing things for the person you love in terms of choirs and helping them out. This might be picking them up from work, helping them with laundry, making them breakfast or coffee or assisting them on a difficult work project.
So: This theory not only offers how you could show people you love them, but also why relationships can suffer: when the feeling of not being loved creeps in. And this can happen because we use different languages! It’s taking a wrong approach in how we express our love that the other person doesn’t interpret as a sign of love. That’s where miscommunication starts!
For example: Jimmy and Jane. Meet Jimmy, who treats Jane to delicious home cooked dinners, and who keeps bringing her tea and cookies while they’re watching bad Spanish telenovela’s together (he’s speaking in Service). Meet Jane, who rubs Jimmy’s feet and wants to hold hands when they walk (she’s speaking in Touch). After a few months, Jane just wants Jimmy to sit down and relax with her (she wants Time) and Jimmy doesn’t understand why Jane never says ‘I Love You’ (he wants Words). They can’t correctly interpret each other’s Love Languages that they speak (Service and Touch), because they show their love in different ways. They also believe their partner should show love in a certain way (Time and Words). This may result in a lot of frustration and confusion for Jane and Jimmy!
So if you’re a Jane or a Jimmy, how do you prevent this from happening?
First off: Become a Love Five Lingual. Start implementing all five. You can favor one or two, but by using them all you make damn sure the message is bound to come through loud and clear through one of the languages.
Now, find out what languages your partner seems to favor. What makes them happiest? What results in them being all grateful and gooey-eyed? Experiment and do more of it. Your relationship will surely benefit.
Also, let your partner know what languages you favor. Is it the ‘You’re so gorgeous’ when you are all dressed up? Is it the back rub after a long day in the office? Or is it spending a day together at the beach when the sun is out? When you know what makes you feel loved more than anything else, let them know. You can tell them straight forward (which is always a good idea) or you can show extra gratitude and affection when they do something that makes you feel loved.
What I love about this approach is that it basically teaches you how to show love to everyone around you through different channels. It’s also applicable to everyone you care about in your life. Your lovers, but also your friends, family members, siblings, children, even co-workers and employees.
What is your primary Love Language? When do you feel most loved?