At times I had told others “I am my own lab rat”. Such a strange statement has a fairly simple meaning; I experiment and try things on myself in a quest to improve and grow. From self-hypnosis (which I got decent results from), to lucid dreaming (never could get in the habit of doing it) to meditation (which I get great results from) to lots of other experimentation I remain open to finding what can make a positive difference in my life.
Several months back someone told me about the book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” by Gary Chapmen. I got a copy of the book and on my current business trip brought it along. It has been difficult to put down. The concepts are presented in a down to earth manner that makes complete sense to me. I have gained a lot of insight into relationship difficulties in the past and opportunity for the future. While the book’s frame of reference leans toward married couples, it is applicable to anyone in a serious relationship. I have had several strong “ah ha moments” so far and will complete the book before I get home.
The primary concept of the book is that each person has a specific love language (sometimes two) that is essential for him/her to feel loved. If a partner “speaks” the language the other needs, the relationship is far more rewarding, comfortable, intimate and resilient. Even when difficulty comes it is more readily and constructively dealt with when both partners are speaking/hearing each other’s language. Otherwise one person in the relationship figuratively ends up speaking “Dutch” while the other is using “Italian”. Then neither understands the other at all.
Here are the 5 languages of love outlined in the book:
Quality time: For one who needs things spoken to them in this language, things like spending time together, eye contact, deep and meaningful conversations and shared activities are needed to feel loved. Bonding time with their partner is what is most important to them.
Receiving gifts: When you are with a partner who relishes little gifts and surprises, this is precisely what you will get. You will constantly be showered with new clothes, flowers or other presents. This is how they want to be loved and is exactly what they do for their partners. This doing for another person is expressing what they actually need themself. Giving the gift of one’s own time is also an important symbol of love to these people.
Words of affection: This works by giving your partner near constant reinforcement, compliments, sweet love notes and lots of encouragement. This is important because those who speak this language are sensitive people and need reassurance on a highly consistent basis. They thrive on being told they are loved and are important. Such a person can become fearful and uncertain without it.
Physical touch: If this is the language of your partner they will be very affectionate or, as some like to call it, touchy-feely. Sex to them means much more than just an orgasm – it is a way to connect. However, they desire contact far beyond sexual activity. Holding hands, hugs, and caresses are very important to these men and women. Without physical contact a person who needs the language of Physical Touch can feel unloved.
Acts of service: Some people find pleasure in doing things for others. By doing these people are actually illustrating what they want and need themself. Such a man or woman may show love by helping out, doing chores, running errands or gladly doing things for a partner, whether desired or not. However, the only acts that matter are those done out of love, not obligation.
While I still have about a third of the book to go, the “Languages” of love I personally need spoken to me are already apparent. I was able to confirm my initial impressions with a quiz you can take at this link to find the language of love you need: http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Relationships/Quiz/The-5-Love-Languages-Quiz.aspx
Here are my Love Language Scores:
10 Words of Affirmation
10 Physical Touch
7 Quality Time
2 Acts of Service
1 Receiving Gifts
The highest score possible is 12. I scored a high need to be spoken to in two distinct “Languages”: Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Accordingly to the book two is not unusual but more than two is. Simply, its Affirmation and Touch that make me feel loved. Quality Time matters some, but Acts of Service and Gifts really are not my needs. That all rings true for me.
Now it’s easy to see I played to my own need in every past love relationship. If those things were the needs of the other person, that was a good thing. If I was involved with someone who needed one of the three other Languages spoken to her, I never fulfilled her needs. I was too busy giving what I wanted, thinking I was showing love by doing that. That all seems so simple now to the point of “duh, why did I not see that before?” I am very grateful to have this insight!
Love makes your soul
crawl out from its hiding place.
Zora Neale Hurston
More about Gary Chapmen’s “The Five Love Languages”: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/
First posted here on November 16, 2011