In 1995, Gary Chapman wrote the groundbreaking book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. As a marriage counselor, he kept seeing couples that didn't have the same way to express their love and appreciation to each other. Inevitably, conflicts would arise based on mismatched communication styles. He developed his system based on major patterns that he saw in his practice.
Over the years, I've helped many people with relationship difficulties due to mismatched Love Languages. Good communication is key to a loving and lasting relationship.
So, let's breakdown the languages and talk about how they could be causing issues in your relationships. Note: The 5 Love Languages are excellent for understanding ALL relationships, not just romantic ones!
The 5 Love Languages are:
- Gift Giving
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
Gift Giving: You love to give presents! Just the act of giving brings joy, and you take special care to select the perfect gift for someone. Gift givers really take the time to know others because this helps them select that special gift. Problems may arise with a partner who doesn't have this Love Language because receiving gifts may be uncomfortable for them. Also, they may feel like they OWE you something if they've been conditioned to believe "nothing is free or everything has a price". Another potential problem may be an issue of comparison. If you're the perfect gift giver, then others may stress about getting something for you and worry how it will be received. When your partner doesn't share this Love Language, then you may not RECEIVE any gifts which feels like you're not being appreciated.
Words of Affirmation: This Love Language is all about being a supporter and a cheerleader. You make sure that others know what a great job they're doing, what a good dinner they made, and how much you like their shoes. Words matter to you, and you'd also like others to recognize your achievements, tell you what they love about you, and generally give you verbal support and praise. However, if this isn't your partner's Love Language, then you could be left doubting whether they're happy in the relationship because you aren't getting a verbal confirmation of affection and appreciation. If this is your Love Language, then it's VITAL to make your partner aware of this so that they have the opportunity to tell you how they feel.
Acts of Service: In my opinion, this is one of the tougher Love Languages. People with Acts of Service enjoy doing things for the people they love. Taking out the trash, picking up the dry cleaning, washing the car...no problem! They enjoy making the lives of others better in any way they can. However, they can get burnt out and resentful when their partners don't have the same Love Language because it feels like they're doing EVERYTHING! The challenge here is that they're used to helping others and don't RECEIVE help very well. Also, if you AND your partner both have this Love Language, then there can be a battle for dominance when it comes to helping each other.
Physical Touch: If you have this Love Language, then you love holding hands, cuddles, hugs, and sex. You let your partner know how much they mean to you by physical affection. If your partner doesn't share your enthusiasm for physical touch, then it can leave you feeling as if you're always chasing them or worse STARVED for physical affection. It's important to talk to your partner about your physical needs and how important physical affection is for you to feel loved, wanted, and desired.
Quality Time: If this is your Love Language, then spending time with the people you love is very important. It's your worst nightmare to be with your partner and they're not listening, paying attention, or on the phone when you're together. Any activity can count as quality time, as long as your partner isn't distracted. Problems arise if you feel that your partner isn't making time for your relationship. Let them know that your time together is what makes you feel loved and schedule it like an appointment if necessary to make sure that it happens.
It can be an important communication tool to identify the Love Languages of both you and your partner. You can find free quizzes on the internet to help you determine your primary and secondary love languages. How we GIVE love is often how we expect to RECEIVE love, and that may not happen when your partner has a different Love Language. Being aware of differences and discussing them is a giant step towards a happier and healthier relationship.
Dr. April Darley resolves stuck patterns of behavior through Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.). By identifying self-sabotaging behaviors, she can help you regain confidence, improve relationships, remove blocks to health, wealth and success in any area of your life.