I’ve been singing the praises of Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, for years! Most of you have probably received a copy of the book from me for a holiday over the years. But every once in awhile, I stumble across someone who has never heard of the book, the quiz, or how it can change their life. So if you’re one of the lost souls out there that have never heard of such a thing, let me introduce you to the idea before I send you off to take the quiz, read the book, and draw closer to the people you love the most.
In my words, not necessarily in the words of Gary Chapman himself . . .
What’s a love language? A love language is how you prefer to communicate love to someone or how you like to receive love.
How do I know my love language? Take this short quiz and voila!
What are the love languages I could be and what do they mean?
*Words of Affirmation – this means you like for people to use words to express their love to you (e.g. “I love you,” “You’re pretty,” “You’re amazing at that,” “You’re special,” “I love how you look in that outfit”)
*Acts of Service – this means you like for people to do things for you that may make your life easier and that will make you feel loved (e.g. fix you dinner, run errands for you, do a chore for you, make appointments for you)
*Gifts – this means you feel most loved when you receive a gift and it doesn’t matter how big or small (e.g. someone surprises you with a coffee, remembers your birthday, buys you a souvenir from vacation, gets you something they saw that reminded them of you)
*Quality Time – this means you feel most loved when someone spends uninterrupted time with you, typically with eye contact and without distractions (e.g. conversation over coffee, sitting on the couch without the TV on looking at each other, running errands together all day, date nights)
*Physical Touch – this means you feel most loved when someone makes physical contact (e.g. holding hands, hugging, smooching, sitting close to each other)
What if I like all of those? We all enjoy all five love languages, but typically one will stand out as your dominant love language.
How can I tell another person’s love language without making them take the quiz? It’s common for someone to give off what they like to receive. For example, I’m gifts (and words of affirmation ranks just as high) so I’m inclined to buy you a gift or tell you face-to-face what I think is amazing about you. I am not a hugger, I’m sometimes too busy for acts of service, and quality time is certainly nice but you’ll see me give a gift or verbal compliment most often — so it’s no surprise if you give me a card or words of encouragement I will leave our interaction feeling special.
How will this change my life? Once you know what love language your partner, parents, friends, and kids are — you then make an effort to show them love in that language. For example, I’m gifts . . . Chris is acts of service. If I go to the mall and buy him a lot of gifts he’ll be like “eh, thanks” and I’ll be like “but I spent all this time getting you these fun surprises and you don’t even like them” (this can lead to being offended because secretly you’re saying “hey man, I love you, obviously” and you get the vibe back like they don’t care). Now that I know acts of service is Chris’ love language, if I run to the grocery and get all his healthy food for him or mow the lawn when he’s on a work trip or do some random thing he may not have time to do — then I get flooded with thank-yous and comments about how great and wonderful I am. Similarly for him, if he does something around our house I am certainly thankful, but if he goes on a trip and sees a funny little thing that he thinks I’d like and he brings it back for me then I feel so special that he would think of me while he was there. Another example would be if you have multiple kids and one values quality one-on-one time and the other likes physical touch. It will serve you and them well if you do special one-on-one days with the child who values quality time and then give extra hugs to the one that likes physical touch. If you force the physical touch kid to hang out with you all day and they seem annoyed, and then you show a lot of physical affection to the kid that likes quality time but you’re too busy to spend a few hours together then you know why they react with an attitude when you’re thinking ‘I just hugged you and said I loved you and I just spent all day with you and you don’t seem to appreciate it.’ You’re speaking a language of love you think they should appreciate, but really they value a different love language. You can even use this method somewhat at work by gauging the teammates that seem to value a birthday gift vs a word of encourage vs a one-on-one meeting. So if you’re doing something for your spouse, friend, etc. and they always seem unappreciative, try to communicate that you love them in one of the other four ways and I guarantee you’ll find one that works!
Now go forth and love your people well!