I think I'm just a johnny-come-lately, but I only yesterday found out about the Five Love Languages (pay no mind to the cheesy website design, they're actually pretty cool--read on!) by Gary Chapman. Basically, he posits that there are five basic "love languages"--ways to express and receive love. The five languages are (in no particular order):
- Quality Time - You find it really important to spend time with people and be together.
- Acts of Service - Small acts of service really communicate love.
- Words of Affirmation - It's important to have love and compliments expressed verbally.
- Gift Giving - Giving gifts is a major way of communicating love.
- Physical Touch - A hand on the arm, a back-scratch, an arm around the shoulder, a kiss--these are the best ways to communicate love.
It's important to remember that everyone experiences love in all of these ways, but Chapman contends that everyone has one that is more important than all the others, and that they can be (more or less) ranked for each person--think "good, better, best." Also, although for most people they are the same, it is possible to prefer to give love in one language, and receive it in another.
For me, it was kind of hard to pick my dominant language. I can definitely rule out gift-giving since gifts don't mean much at all to me, and service (while of course nice) is also not very high on my list. But the remaining three were harder. I finally decided on quality time being my number one--I really love to talk to people one-on-one and spend time with friends and loved ones. Words of affirmation are also very important to me--I sometimes can crave verbal praise and recognition, and when I hear them it just feels really, really good. Physical touch is also important for me. I love hugging, back-scratches, holding hands, etc., though PDA is gross. All that was validated by this quiz (no scientificity guaranteed), where I scored 11 on quality time, 8 on words of affirmation, and 7 on physical touch (service was 4, gift giving 0 :) ).
Like I said, I just yesterday found out about this way of looking at ways of communicating love, but I think it's a very useful tool. Just talking to my girlfriend about it helped me recognize a source of what had been some concern for me (that she's not a "words of affirmation" kind of girl) but also helped me realize that she expresses love through physical touch and quality time. It was also good to find out that we're both not very into gifts--phew! (but don't worry, I still give flowers or whatever on special occasions).
Overall I think it's very useful to recognize how family, friends, and significant others give and receive love so that you're not talking past each other. If one person constantly says "I love you" but the recipient of those words thinks talk is cheap and would prefer the other person just pitch in with the chores, you can see how problems could develop and both sides feel hurt. Apparently, you can also work on improving your fluency in love languages that don't come as naturally to you, which is a great goal, and one I'll be working on.
So, were you already familiar with the five love languages? Which one(s) is (are) your primary language(s)? Did you like all those parentheses I needed to make that last sentence exactly tolerant of whether or not you had multiple love languages? Have you ever been in a situation where two people had their relationship damaged by using two different love languages without realizing it? I'm anxious to hear your thoughts!