There are 5 Love Languages that people use to express their feelings to each other. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1992 book by Gary Chapman. The rules, originally proposed by Chapman, a successful relationship counsellor, were then backed up by a study that validated that these are the minimum effective categories. It vastly outperformed any subsection of the list of 5. That’s just a wordy way to say, these can be relied upon and together cover pretty much all possible cases.
If the way couples interact is a mathematical Set then this is the Basis of that Set. Too nerdy? Ok, moving on…
If you try speaking French to someone who only speaks Mandarin, they will not understand what you are trying to say. If you are telling them you love them in a language they don’t understand, it will not be received.
I like to take it a layer further – comparing it to communicating on different radio frequencies. When tuning your radio in your car, when it’s on 96.9FM you can’t hear what is playing on 104.1FM. It’s often not that it is heard and not understood, but rather that they are not “hearing” it at all.
The way you express your love for someone is your love language.
The sacred list:
- Acts of service – doing nice things for your partner
- Words of affirmation – saying nice things to your partner
- Gifts giving – giving nice things to your partner
- Physical touch – hugs, kisses, head-scritches etc.
- Quality time – spending time together
You could have a combination of multiple of the above, some more than others. If you expect your partner to show their love for you through telling you how beautiful you look, or how smart are you are (Type (2)), and they are a Type (3), then they will not tell you these things often on their own accord to express their love, instead they will buy you gifts because they are thinking of you.
You won’t appreciate these gestures. Maybe you don’t like people spending money on you, whatever the reason… You are frustrated: Why won’t they just say “wow, you look great” every so often.
You will feel unloved, they will feel unloved, unappreciated and taken advantage of. You’ll both feel it is uneven in your own direction because you give, give, give and never receive what you want.
This problem originates in not communicating which love language(s) you naturally tend toward. You will want to give love the same way you want to receive it.
This problem can be compounded by you not even knowing which one it is. So first, have a think about how you would categorise a “healthy and happy, loving” relationship. What “should” each person do?
We all have these inherent rules we subconsciously tell ourselves.
Knowing what you and your partner’s love languages are is the first step to ensuring you both feel loved and valued in your relationship. Otherwise you will both feel drained and taken advantage of over time. And what’s the point in that… so much wasted energy and unnecessary pain.
Clash of the titans
If you and your partner differ, that’s ok and normal. Just because your natural tendencies are not the same does not mean you can’t put in a little concerted effort to ensure you make each other feel loved in a language the other can appreciate.
Additionally, if you know that your partner is an “Acts of Service” type, then when they spend 2 hours fixing your necklace that is them expressing their love to you. Even though you are a “Gift Giver” and would have preferred they just buy you a new one, then you can receive their message. Making you both feel more loved.
If anything, after you have that conversation, it will make it feel doubly special when they act in that manner, because you know it’s conscious and deliberate. That they are doing it because they care.
It’s important you are both onboard with the premise, not just reject them and say that the manner they express love is unacceptable for you. Unwilling to compromise for the greater good. If you’re that far gone, into the realm of contempt and the Four Horsemen of Relationship Doom then perhaps it is not realistically salvageable.
What decides your love language?
It is from your upbringing. Watching how your parents expressed love to each other, to you and to others around them taught you what is “normal” (your first example of relationships). It is the way you naturally express your love and, hopefully, ensuring your partner feels valued is a priority.
If you have had a pattern of issues in this area, and are unsure even what your Love Language(s) are, maybe it is worth exploring them (alone or with a partner if you have one).
Because after all, don’t we all just want to feel loved and appreciated?
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