The iconic Haddaway once sang, "What is love?" and that is the very question we ponder in our day-to-day lives. The concept of love is as beautiful as it is complex. It's given and received differently depending on the individual. Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor, international speaker, and author wrote a series discussing five love languages: quality time, words of affirmation, giving/receiving gifts, physical touch and acts of service.
Quality time is described as simply spending time with your partner. It goes a little beyond just hanging out. People who prefer quality time appreciate it when their partners give them their undivided attention. Imagine sitting across or beside your loved one, engaged in a conversation, or perhaps you’re silently enjoying each other’s company without any other distractions. As the two of you are so focused on each other, it feels as if nothing else matters at this moment.
Words of affirmation is one of the most popular love languages. A person who prefers this love language is deeply moved by verbal communication. It can include simple phrases such as "I appreciate you," "I trust you," and "I believe in you.” Nikka Celeste from psychreg.org explains that this communication can be not only from your tongue but your written words as well, such as in love letters and notes.
Giving and receiving gifts is another common love language. Contrary to what some people might think, gift-giving and receiving isn’t just about worldly things. Celeste states that giving and receiving gifts is a way to show you’re putting in effort and that you care about the relationship. She writes, “According to Dr. Jeral Kirwan, gift giving increases feelings of satisfaction and helps reinforce relationships by positively acknowledging each other.” Gift-giving doesn't have to mean buying your significant other jewelry or the latest gaming system. It could also mean giving gifts symbolic of special moments and memories that you hold close to your heart.
Some people prefer being shown love through physical touch: cuddling, hugging, kissing, caressing, and more. Dr. Anthony Tzoumas from creativesolutionsonline.org says for those who favor this love language, touch becomes an “emotional expression”. It makes the receiver feel appreciated, cared for and secure. However, the giver/receiver must communicate what touch means to them since it varies from each person.
Someone who prefers acts of service appreciates when their partners perform selfless acts for them. Celeste says acts of service are really “demonstrations of love.” Cooking a meal for your partner, taking care of them while they're sick, or planning a surprise date are examples of acts of service. According to the article, neurobiologists have found that selfless acts activate the brain's reward centers. This means that whenever we perform selfless acts, it makes us feel warm inside which further reinforces selfless behavior.
Everyone knows relationships require a lot of patience, communication, and compromise amongst other things. What makes you feel loved and appreciated might be different from your partner. To keep a relationship healthy, it’s crucial that we communicate our preferred expressions of love to each other. Sit down and have a heart-to-heart chat about what works for you.
1. Would you rather your partner…
a. Take you out on a quiet lunch date
b. Tell you how much you mean to them
c. Give you a small gift for no other reason than just to make you smile
d. Give you a hug
e. Cook all of your favorite foods
2. Would you rather your partner…
a. Put away their phone and talk with you
b. Write you a love letter
c. Give you a bouquet of your favorite flowers
d. Cuddle up next to you all night
e. Take care of you while you’re sick
3. Would you rather your partner…
a. Go on a walk with you after dinner
b. Tell you they love you repeatedly throughout the day
c. Give you a gift certificate for your favorite restaurant
d. Rest their head on your shoulder after a long day
e. Make you breakfast in bed
4. Would you rather your partner…
a. Go stargazing with you
b. Tell you how proud you make them
c. Buy you your favorite snack at the store
d. Hold your hand while walking through the park
e. Organize your cabinets/workspace
Quality time answer choices: A’s
Those who prefer quality time appreciate their partners setting aside time for them and giving them their undivided attention.
Words of affirmation answer choices: B’s
People who prefer this love language appreciate their partner’s verbal/written expressions of love.
Giving/Receiving Gifts answer choices: C’s
This love language is pretty self-explanatory. It might be misunderstood as a desire for materialistic things but it’s more so about the thought and effort behind the gift.
Physical touch answer choices: D’s
Physical touch is also self-explanatory. Those who prefer this love language resonate with the physicality of love.
Acts of service answer choices: E’s
Those who prefer acts of service appreciate it when their partners perform selfless acts for them.
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