Have you ever noticed that slight disconnect that comes from having unmet needs? You know; that feeling of receiving a gift or a compliment from someone when what you really want is to spend quality time with them? If the gift or compliment, no matter how sincerely offered, is just not hitting the spot, it could be that you are both speaking a different language, and that love is getting lost in the translation.
Enter the five languages of love:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Dr Gary Chapman first applied the idea of different love languages to romantic relationships. However, in the 20 or so years since his first book was published, he has re-imagined how the idea of disconnected love can also apply to familial and platonic relationships.
I recall that when my sister’s children were small, she put a lot of effort into understanding what motivated them and tailoring her approach where possible. This creates an environment where each child feels parental love in the ways they respond to the most –all it takes is a willingness to be both aware and flexible.
And the same goes for our adult interactions. Last year, a dear friend of mine had her first child. I have presented her with gifts and offered to help with shopping or cooking or even some babysitting, but what seems to resonate with her the most is when I comment on what a fantastic job she’s doing. This makes sense; she is a fiercely independent person charting new territory. And, as her friend, I am happy to affirm her capabilities, because I can see that this also affirms her confidence and self-worth.
It’s important to remember that individual needs will change, depending on the quality and type of relationship. For example, my primary love language is acts of service, however with those I don’t feel very connected to, quality time and conversation is more meaningful than having someone offer their help.
But no matter which type of relationship this concept is applied to, the idea is that we get the best out of others when we nourish them in the ways they need, rather than in the ways that we think they need or that we need for ourselves.
In my experience, this kind of empathy can be the difference between knowing I am loved and actively feeling another’s love for me.
And what better way is there to connect with those we love, than by speaking the same language?
To find out your primary love language, you can take the quiz here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Photo credit: Indiana Public Media