Humans have always had individual ways of expressing affection to one another. We say how we feel, we give gifts, offer hugs and even do chores for one another to show we care; it comes as no surprise then, that certain people prefer to have love and affection expressed in specific ways based on their individuality.
Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor in Winston-Salem, N.C., holds a master’s degree in anthropology and completed graduate work in many areas including education psychology, philosophy of education, history of education and comparative education. He has published several books on relationships, one of which, titled The 5 Love Languages, addresses how individuals best express and receive affection from others.
The five categories in which individuals express love are valid in any type of relationship, whether it be friendship, love between siblings, a parent and a child as well as significant others.
The first love language is Words of Affirmation. According to Chapman, this love language is one in which the spoken word affects a person much more so than actions. The person who speaks this language gives random compliments, says ‘I love you’ and is verbally open about their feelings for anyone they are acquainted with. They are most receptive to compliments, being told they are cared for and why. On the flip side, this person also takes harsh words to heart the most; negative words strike them as much as positive ones caress them.
The second love language, Quality Time, is all about spending time with the people you care about. Chapman writes that the person who speaks this language feels most loved when their partner gives them undivided attention, and shows affection in the same way. This language describes a person who goes out of the way to be there for their partner, whether it be as normal going on a walk with them or as special as planning a night with no TV, phones turned off and computers long forgotten. Neglecting the person who speaks this language will drive them away.
Quality Time is often a close second to those individuals who have Physical Touch as their dominant language. A person who speaks the Physical Touch language requires frequent hugs, enjoys holding hands, leans on others for comfort and loves to cuddle. Chapman explains in his novel that sexual intercourse may also be an avenue of expressing this language, but a love of intercourse is by no means an automatic indicator of this language. This person requires physical contact with people often, and can feel lonely and unappreciated without it.
Acts of Service is a language of chores; the person who speaks this language will often do tasks for others as a means of expressing their affection. Whether it be vacuuming, washing dishes, dusting or cooking, Chapman writes that performing a service like these for no apparent reason is a sure way to make someone who speaks this language feel appreciated and loved. Leaving dirty clothes on the floor, a pile off dishes or a messy bathroom and expecting your loved one to take care of it however, is not.
According to The 5 Love Languages, the final Love Language is one that may seem materialistic, but actually isn’t. The language of Receiving Gifts can make anyone smile, but to someone who lives for this language, it is the love and thoughtfulness behind the gifts that really matter. A flower, chocolates, a card or cheap department store jewelry are all relatively inexpensive ways of expressing this language to a partner, and are likely to be appreciated as much as a diamond ring to those who truly understand and use it. If simple gifts aren’t enough, or expensive ones are often requested, you may just be dating someone greedy – there is a difference. Don’t dare forget birthdays or anniversaries with those who live for this language, and don’t simply give them a gift without any thought behind it; this person will take either scenario negatively and feel unappreciated.
Once you know which languages you and the people in your life respond to best, cultivating healthier and happier relationships with one another becomes easier.
A small survey of the TNL staff revealed that 80% speak the language of Quality Time, with 10% requiring Physical Touch and another 10% needing Words of Affirmation. To take the official assessment and find out your love language, go to www.5lovelanguages.com.