ERP 089: How to use Love Languages to strengthen connection
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What are Love Languages?:
Love languages are a tool to help us understand how we each give and receive love differently. This is particularly important to know if you are in a long-term intimate relationship because, most likely, you and your partner have different primary love languages. Which means you and your partner could be trying to express love to one another, but could be completely missing each other. This can be extremely frustrating and lead to feelings of disappointment, loneliness, and disconnect.
The love languages give us 5 basic categories of how love is generally expressed and received (felt). If you want to communicate your love with your partner, it will be helpful to know what language they typically use. Similarly, if you want to feel loved by your partner, it will be important to know what matters most to you (i.e. what ways help you feel loved).
In 1996, Gary Chapman wrote “The Five Love Languages.” Since then, his categorization of love has been highly recognized in popular self-help literature. He has written several additions helping people apply the 5 Love Languages to other relationships (i.e. parenting and professional relationship, etc.).
(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear my stories and examples to describe these points.)
What are the 5 Love Languages?:
1. Words of Affirmation:
Words are used to express love, care, and regard. People with this primary love language are deeply moved by statements of affection, acknowledgment, and encouragement. They want to hear you say you love them, or what they mean to you.
- “You look great!”
- “I love how you make me laugh.“
- “You mean the world to me.”
2. Physical Touch:
Physical affection is used to display love, appreciation, and meaning. For people with this primary love language, physical, appropriate touch is a powerful way to feel and communicate love. It is almost as if touching is a way to transmit love.
- Touching each other when you leave the house and again when you return with a hug or kiss.
- Snuggling or sitting close while watching a movie.
- Touch on the back or arm, when walking by.
- Love making.
3. Acts of Service:
Acts of service are any actions done with someone in mind. Most often they are service-oriented actions intended to support or help, so that their partner may feel cared for, thought about, and loved. People with this primary love language often feel that “actions speak louder than words.” Words and gestures will not help them feel loved, if there is no action to support the sentiment.
- Cooking a meal.
- Taking care of chore (i.e. cleaning up the house, getting the car serviced and cleaned).
- Running an errand (i.e. picking up the dry cleaning).
- Taking action on a project.
4. Quality Time:
Giving someone your undivided attention, focus, and presence demonstrates how much they matter, how special they are to you, and how much you love and care for them. People with this love language feel loved, cared for, and important when prioritized in your schedule to receive valuable quality time with you.
- Schedule time to be together.
- Minimizing distractions (i.e. tv. Phones, tablets, computers, etc.).
- Attending to one another in an activity that allows you to focus on the other person.
- Sharing a meal together.
- Doing an activity together.
Tangible objects are used as symbols of love, affection, and regard. Physical representation of I am thinking about you and I love you. People with this primary love language feel especially loved and cared about because of the thought and effort that goes into the gift. It is not about the money spent. It is about the attitude involved.
- Framed photo.
- Personalized memento.
- Picked up your favorite drink.
- Bought something that I think you would like (i.e. pleasure item, luxury item, need item, or fun item).
How to determine you and your partner’s love language:
Typically, people have a top one or two love language. The highest ranking love language is the number one way people feel loved, cared for, and valued.
Usually, the thing we give most often indicates our primary love language.
Notice in yourself:
- What do you typically give to your partner?
- What is most natural and easiest way to give love?
- When you think about expressing love to your partner, what is the first thing you think about?
- Think about what is more important to you by comparing the love languages together. For example, would you feel more loved and cared about if someone went out of their way to buy you a nice gift or if they spent ample time with you giving you their attention and warmth?
Observe in your Partner:
- What does your partner typically give to you?
- How do they express care, regard, and love to others?
- What do they complain about not getting in relationship with you or others?
- What do they request the most?
Signs that your partner speaks this love language:
1. Words of Affirmation:
They are good at expressing their feelings and how much you mean to them. They may describe in detail what they appreciate about you and explain all the reasons why they love you. They might leave you voice messages throughout the day, write you cards and give you poems. They will also be moved by receiving a nice compliment or written acknowledgment.
2. Physical Touch:
They tend to initiate physical contact and closeness. They will want to hug you hello and hug you goodbye. They will touch you when they talk and want to sit close while watching a program. While walking down the street they may want to link arms, hold hands, or walk hip to hip. They may relax and feel happiest within your embrace.
3. Acts of Service:
They tend to put a lot of effort into doing things for you. They will want to help out, lighten your load, and take things off your plate. If you talk about something that needs to get done, they will often volunteer or may take the initiative to do it for you without your asking them. They will think about you and how they can help. When someone goes out of their way to do something nice for them, they will feel extra special and feel that they were worth the effort.
4. Quality Time:
They tend to be very present when hanging out. They give you good eye-contact and are very good listeners. They will see the time together as special and protect the quality of connection, by keeping distractions to a minimum. They rarely multitask when spending time together and will typically prefer one-on-one time opposed to group gatherings. When someone drops what they are doing to be available, they feel important, cared for, and like they really matter.
They tend to give a lot of little gifts…framed photos, trinkets, and mementos. They may be sentimental about objects that represent a shared experience or family history (i.e. a shell found on the beach together). They may collect things or appreciate high-quality items. They will buy gifts to celebrate life events and milestones. When receiving a thoughtful gift, they will feel especially cared for and may cherish the gift as a symbol of love.
Take the Love Language quiz.
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 089: How to use Love Languages to strengthen connection [Transcript]
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