A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was reading a new book, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married, by Gary Chapman. One of the foundational premises of the book, and the takeaway that's most resonated with me, is Chapman's idea of the five love languages, explained most simply as:
"Everyone has a primary love language. One of the five speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four. I also discovered that seldom do a husband and wife have the same love language. By nature we tend to speak our own language. Whatever makes us feel loved is what we do for the other person. But if it is not his/her love language, it will not mean to them what it means to us."
An interesting concept, right? As human beings, we tend to focus so much on our own wants and needs, that even when we truly love someone else, it's hard not to project those wants and needs onto them.You can read more about Chapman's ideology of this theory in his detailed book The Five Love Languages, but they are as follows:
1. Words of Affirmation
My score: 9
Mike's score: 2
This "language" uses words to affirm the other person.This is a big one for me. Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist with oldest-child syndrome, I always understood that it was important for me in academic and professional settings to be told I was doing a good job. But I never considered that this extended into my personal relationships as well.
2. Acts of Service
My score: 3
Mike's score: 7
For people who speak the language of acts of service, actions speak louder than words. Doing the dishes, cleaning the living room, making the bed... all of these are little ways to show rather than tell someone that you love them. As you can see, this one isn't a priority for me (just tell me you love me and I'm good), but it's Mike third-ranked language, so it's important that I find some balance there.
3. Receiving Gifts
My score: 9
Mike's score: 5
When I first started reading about the five different love languages, I had a gut-feeling this was mine... although I was hesitant, albeit sheepish to admit it. "I feel loved when people buy me presents" doesn't sound so great. However, there's more to it than that.
Reflecting back on my upbringing, I started to see why this value may have been instilled in me at a young age, particularly by my mom, who is one of the most selfless people I know. Every holiday, every special occasion, she would buy a little gift for my brothers and I. Even through college, my care packages made me the envy of all my friends (they still miss those giant popcorn tins). Luckily for me, Mike is already great at this. He's incredibly thoughtful, and in the year and a half he's been in Europe, he always brings me back something special from every trip he takes. Now I understand a bit better why this means so much to me.
4. Quality Time
My score: 3
Mike's score: 8
Overall, Mike's scores were a bit more even-keel than mine. He was surprised with his results, but when I saw his top two, it made perfect sense, especially considering our current situation. Above all, Mike values quality time (giving the other person your undivided attention) and physical touch (explained below). Since we currently only get to see each other about once every three months, these are understandable; it's very important to him that we spend uninterrupted, meaningful time together, where we are both not just physically present, but mentally and emotionally as well.
5. Physical Touch
My score: 6
Mike's score: 8
The most self-explanatory of the five love languages, physical touch deals entirely with physical connection. It's a very powerful action. In my opinion, it's probably also skewed a bit towards the male persuasion (meaning it appears more frequently at the top of male results). Nevertheless, it's meaningful to realize that someone you care about quantifies feeling loved this way, and to attempt to act on it accordingly.
As you can see, my love languages compared to Mike's are very different, which is common, according to Chapman. But that's all the more reason why it's so important that we understand these differences. Love is all about doing what you can to make the other person happy, and that applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones. Consider your closest friends, your family... what behaviors have you observed that suggest their "love language," and what can you do to cater towards those ideals?
So, what's your love language? Take the quiz; I promise it'll change not only your self-realization, but your relationships with other people you care about too.