Did you know that there are several ways in which we express and experience/receive love? How YOU give and receive love could be very different than how your partner, child, sibling, parent gives and receives love. In his series of books based on “The 5 Love Languages”, Dr. Gary Chapman states that there are five ways we use to express and experience love (he calls them “love languages“):
1. receiving gifts
2. quality time
3. physical touch
4. acts of service (devotion)
5. words of affirmation
Most of us have one primary and one secondary way we use to express and experience love. Not communicating love effectively with others because our love languages are different can cause lots of confusion, tension and turmoil, which can wreak havoc in a relationship.
Picture a couple who are in “new” love, or even one who has been together a long time. Each person may feel that they completely love the other. On the other hand, they may not always feel completely loved BY the other. One reason for this is that their love languages are not the same, and they are only communicating their love to the other through their own love language.
Suppose in either couple that person A feels loved when receiving quality time. Person B feels loved when receiving words of affirmation or gifts. The challenge is that we communicate with others in the way we RECEIVE love. So, person A gives quality time to person B, and person B gives words of affirmation or gifts to person A….and each does not fully feel or appreciate (or receive) what is being given!
So how do you figure out how to communicate more effectively in the ways that others feel love?
- Think of several people in your life that you love, whether it be your mate, a parent, a sibling, or even a friend. Recall some instances when you have felt love coming from these people, and remember HOW they were communicating it you. Identify out of Dr. Chapman’s list which of the five ways you feel the most connected to based on these instances.
- Tell the people in your life what makes you feel loved.
- Ask your significant other, parent, child how they feel loved – tell them about the five ways of communicating love and ask which have the most impact on them.
- Start practicing giving love to the people in your life in the ways that have the most positive impact on them.
Another thing you can do is get “neutral” to every single thing the other says, thinks or does, and every single thing they do not say, think, or do. Then you are present with them, and in a place of no negative reaction. For more information on getting to neutral, check out Being Neutral vs. Positive Thinking and Being Neutral to Emptiness and Empty Spaces.
If you want more guidance, read Dr. Chapman’s books. He has written many books on this topic geared towards different audiences such as married couples, singles, parents, children, and more! He also offers tools on his website including a “learn your love language” assessment! https://www.5lovelanguages.com/