Let’s Talk About Love
Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the languages of love—all five of them. If you’re not familiar with the five love languages, the concepts come from Gary Chapman’s 1995 book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” in which he states that people express love in five different ways. They are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
Confession time: I’ve never actually read the book. We did, however, spend a great deal talking about these languages in my human sexuality class in college. I don’t think you need to read the book to get the gist, but if you’re interested I’m not going to stop you! There are so many websites out there where you can take the test and find out your love language(s), but the test on the official website does the job. (Click here to take the test yourself. Just bust out a pen and paper and do it the old-fashioned way.)
My results (in descending order) were words of affirmation and acts of service (they tied!), quality time, receiving gifts, and physical touch. So what did I learn? I learned that I most strongly perceive love through words and actions. Above all, I need to be told that I’m loved, because it means more to me when people speak openly and honestly from the heart. But as much as I need to hear encouragement and positive feedback, I also value the things people do for me. The gesture can be as small as helping with the dishes or getting a ride from the train station. No matter the size of the action, I treasure it because I know someone wanted to help me, and to me, helping equals love.
Did you notice how physical touch ranked last for me? That means that physical contact is not so important for me to feel loved. I don’t need a comforting touch as much as other people might. What’s interesting is that my partner’s main love language is physical touch. We perceive love in different ways, and this is something we’ve had to really work on in our relationship. I’ve been studying these seven years that we’ve been together, trying to become fluent. I try to give more hugs, to hold hands more often, to cuddle at night, because that that’s how my partner will feel my love. All relationships require some compromise, and while it may not always be easy, I firmly believe that it’s worth it.
The concept of love languages isn’t a huge scientific breakthrough, but I think it’s very useful to help you learn more about yourself and the people you love. Discussing your preferred languages with the people around you can lead to mutual understanding and stronger, more satisfying relationships.
But you won’t only be caring for relationships between yourself and others. Communicating how you express and perceive love is also a way of caring for yourself, and that’s the most essential love of all.