If you’re a human being (and chances are pretty good that you are), you need to be loved. We all do. The desire to be cared for is a part of all of us. Our lives teem with opportunities to love other people. Throughout our years, we’ll be presented with amazing people who we could form meaningful relationships with. Family members. Friends. Neighbors. Classmates. A significant other. Just think of all the people around you, and how incredible it is that you were put in the same place at the same time as them!
As we figure out how to love our friends and family well, we might get frustrated. Like super frustrated. Maybe you’ve tried so hard to show your buddy that you’re there for them, but they totally don’t get it. Or you’ve gone out of your way to let your brother or sister know that they’re special to you, but it’s like they speak a different language or something.
Ever heard of the Five Love Languages? It’s a concept created by Dr. Gary Thomas, and it has transformed relationship after relationship for over twenty years now. It’s built on the idea that everybody shows and accepts love differently. Dr. Thomas says that there are five main ways to show love (or love languages): Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Each person is usually drawn to one or two of these languages in particular. For instance, you might naturally show your love through gifts. You enjoy carefully picking out the perfect present for your best friend, or making a DIY gift just for them. But maybe they don’t get you gifts in return, and that leaves you feeling like they don’t care for you. Likewise, maybe your friend really appreciates quality time with you, and would much rather have a sleepover with you and talk all night than buy each other gifts. Two people can both think they’re loving the other person really well, but that love gets lost in translation when they don’t understand each other’s love languages.
Like we said earlier, someone whose love language is gifts feels extra special when someone takes the extra time and effort into buying or creating a present for them. It’s not about the money or being greedy. Giving someone a gift isn’t something you can do on the spot, it requires planning and sacrifice. These gifts don’t need to be expensive or fancy. Even surprising them with their favorite snack or a handmade card can mean a lot.
For some people, actions speak way louder than words. Acts of service could be doing the dishes for your parents, mowing the grass for your grandpa, or shoveling snow for your neighbor. It’s putting your heart into action, noticing and doing the little and big tasks that make someone with this love language completely light up because they sense that you care.
There’s nothing like a friend who we can just be with. That’s how someone who identifies with love languages feels about all their relationships. It means the most to them when their loved ones set aside a specific time to just hang out, talk, or share favorite activities together and focus their full attention them while they’re together.
Sometimes we just want to be told “I love you. You’re beautiful. You are special to me.” Folks who resonate with Words of Affirmation need to hear things like this frequently in order to feel loved. Of course, these words must be sincere. There’s nothing quite as frustrating for someone with this love language to hear a nice-sounding phrase that they know isn’t true.
Human contact is important for all of us to some degree. For those with this love language, they feel so cared for when their loved ones share a hug, an affirming touch on the shoulder, or hold their hand. Appropriate physical touch can be a great way to remind your love ones that you are here for them and aren’t going anywhere.
These are just basic summaries, but hopefully you get the picture. The way you crave love may be totally different than the way your friends or your parents or your partner crave love and tend to show that love. If we want to have thriving relationships, we need to figure out what is meaningful not just for ourselves, but for those we care about. Finding out your own love language helps you understand your own needs and desires and help other people know how they can show their love for you.
Take a quiz and read more about the Five Love Languages here! http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ Share the results with your family and friends and encourage them to discover their own love languages as well. Dr. Chapman has written multiple books on this topic, including A Teen’s Guide to the Five Love Languages. Whatever stage you’re at in your life, there’s probably a Five Love Languages book for it.
You always hear us say in Pure Freedom that it’s never too late to make changes. It’s also never too early or too late to learn how to learn about yourself, others, and how to love people well. How can you practice these love languages today?
By Kath Crane