I’m sure you’ve heard of love languages. They’re essentially the ways we show and receive love. There’s quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Gary Chapman is the man who came up with these. Quality time is spending uninterrupted, valuable time with someone. Physical touch is pretty obvious. It might look like a hug, holding hands, or cuddling. Words of affirmation would be telling someone you love them or you appreciate them or they did a good job on something. Receiving gifts is another kind of straightforward one. Though, gifts aren’t always big and expensive. It could be something small that just made you think of the person. Last, but not least is acts of service, which is doing something for someone that takes something off their plate. This could be some of their chores, or a task they’ve been putting off for awhile. Chapman said that we can all relate to each of the five, but we express or receive one the most. For example, I feel the most loved with physical touch, but I show my love the most with acts of service. Therefore, I feel closer with someone if they hug me a lot or sit near me, but if I really care for someone I will do things for them such as fold their laundry or clean their dishes when they’re stressed.
Love languages aren’t just important for your romantic relationship, but also for familial or platonic relationships. It’s crucial to understand how your loved ones receive the most love so that you can provide that to them. I could tell my mom I love and care about her 101 times every day, and she will not feel nearly as loved as she would if I made her breakfast or vacuumed the house. This is because she receives love the most through acts of service, not words of affirmation. I know that one of my closest friends shows her love through gift giving so I keep that in mind every time she gets me even the smallest gift because that is her showing me she loves me.
It can become a bit tricky when the way you show love does not align with how someone else best receives love. Using my mom as an example again, she shows her love through acts of service, but I receive love through physical touch. So does that mean I never feel loved by her? No, because she understands my love language. If I’m feeling unloved, stressed, or sad, she would be more likely to give me a hug because she can recognize that I am in need of love in my own language. On a regular day, she might make me food or dust my room, and I can recognize that that is her way of loving me. It becomes a delicate balance of back and forth, giving and receiving to create a relationship where both members feel loved and appreciated.
In order to do this, individuals first must know how their loved ones show and receive love. One way to get this information is to have them take the love languages quiz online, or simply ask them if they know their love languages. However, if they don’t quite know it themselves, you can always try to observe what makes them feel better when they’re upset or what they do for others when they’re trying to make someone else feel loved or cared for. Understanding loved languages can lead to less uncertainty in your relationships, and truly maximize them.