We’ve all had crappy relationships. How much better would they be if we could understand the complexities of the people we care about?
Valentine’s Day is over and relationships are back to normal.
No, but seriously.
You’ve been stuck for awhile. You might have been hoping that the way you celebrated Valentine’s Day would be a sort of a rare-candy that would level up your romance. Or you’ve been friends with someone but each time you meet up, it just seems like friendship doesn’t go anywhere. Same old, same old.
And I don’t mean romantically. I think people really downplay the importance of friendships in the 21st century. They put all their eggs in one basket only to return when their hearts are cracked.
You hate how she’s always texting when you’re together, or how he never says anything encouraging. He never buys you gifts, and she’s not big into hugs. Idiosyncrasies are starting to pile up.
Maybe it’s because you’re not speaking the right language!
What do you mean? I don’t mean English or French. Sometimes when we do our best to love on someone, it might not speak to them. It takes mixing things up.
Most people have heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test. Depending on where you lie on the spectrum, you value different things at different levels than others might.
When you don’t know how the other receives love, relationships suck!
Love languages are a whole new paradigm to consider.
If you want to be a better brother, sister, mother, friend or cousin, this is for you!
What Are The Love Languages?
Dr. Gary Chapman is the best selling author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The main bestseller focuses on couples but he has released many other versions tailored for children, singles, men and women alike.
He discovered that it’s not enough to just love someone. That actually might be making things worse. You need to know how!
How people receive affection is different between people. Understanding people in this way brings relationships to a new level.
This is where the five love languages come in. They are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
To improve your relationships you need to understand the following things:
*The 5 Love Languages
*How You Receive and Give Love
*How Others Receive and Give Love
If you’re curious as to where you stand on the spectrum you can take the test here.
This is just the beginning of the journey. Knowing how and when to apply what is also important. Let’s go through the five shall we?
Words of Affirmation
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
Don’t you just wish people would be a bit more honest and say the nice things they feel?
For some people the whole “Sticks and stones” is far from the truth. Words have power and can have quite the impact in the lives of others.
We all have that intimate friend that sometimes likes to fish for compliments. It’s not really that they’re fishing, but kind words help confirm what they mean to you and lift their spirits.
A lot of people tend to avoid this except in romantic relationships because it’s “mushy”–– but sometimes your dearest friends need to hear encouraging words.
This means simple things like thanking them or praising their character.
“Man, thanks for always being so helpful. I really appreciate that you’re a man of your word.”
“Hey, it was really great hanging out yesterday. I enjoy the time I spend with you.”
I know that many people aren’t good at this and it makes them feel “awkward.” To be blatantly honest, it’s the word I hate most in the English language.
Let’s take it a step further. People with words of affirmation are probably those that will read messages over and over because of the nice words!
A great idea to remind someone with this love language that you love them is to write them a letter or send them an email. Instead of just thinking about someone, let them know!
I personally tend to doubt my standing with friends. Because people don’t express themselves in words as much, I doubt what I mean to my friends. If I don’t hear anything, I often feel like I talk too much or I’m a bit clingy.
Although those are true, people may not feel that way and rather enjoy it. When I hear them tell me what they really think and feel, it helps put me at ease instead of feeling like a constant burden that they “have to” hang out with.
For parents, it’s always good to let your kids know they did a good job. Although they may not like it at face value, it’s emotional seed planting.
Acts of Service
The eternal question “Did you eat yet?” Is the epitome of this love language.
For Asians, this is how we receive love the most from our parents.
Mom always wakes up extra early to cook lunch, do the laundry and all the house work. Even when you’re married she comes over and does what she can.
Back to romantic relationships. Believe it or not, sometimes washing dishes can make or break a relationship!
Pay attention when your spouse asks you to do something. If you’re not sure what they’d like most, ask!
Some people feel loved when they come home to see the table set, the dishes cleaned, the floor mopped and all those things.
It’s important, but not just for hygienic purposes.
Gifts! Who doesn’t like Santa?
This is probably the most active love language in any given culture.
In many cultures and especially Indonesian, gift giving is of utmost importance. Whenever you travel somewhere, you are expected to give “oleh-oleh.” This can be anything from food to clothes. Without it, you’re automatically a horrible niece, nephew, grandma, or grandpa.
Not something to take likely.
For Westerners it’s usually souvenirs, which are important too. It shows you took the time out of your vacation schedule to think of someone and act upon it.
It’s physical evidence of how much you care for a person.
I’m personally not a big receiver of gifts. I tend to say thank you and shrug them off unless it’s something I’ve been meaning to buy for myself.
But, I definitely express love in buying gifts for people. I’m not a big fan of the whole souvenir industry, but I find putting my pride aside to love out loud is pretty important.
Test it out and see how your friend or loved one responds.
You might read the title of this and say, “Duh!” But it’s much deeper than that.
There are people that enjoy passing time with each other. Sitting on the couch and doing nothing is better than receiving presents for them.
If you’re not sure whether a taking a walk or going to a museum is better, ask!
The important thing to remember is that they also request your undivided attention. In today’s world this means not looking at your phone when you’re together. No distractions and running off to do something on the computer or kitchen.
“Let’s just enjoy each other’s company.” is the name of the game.
Sometimes this means enduring the silence. Learning to appreciate the other person with or without noise is important.
Silence is golden!
Guys tend to go over board in lust on this one.
Women are beautiful, I get that! But It’s my personal belief that guys need to hold back on this a bit.
Call me traditional, but I like to look at people and remember they are someone else’s son or daughter. Just because a girl is your girlfriend doesn’t mean she’s yours.
Helps me keep the reins in and not be rude to people to horrible people on the subway.
But again, Love is NOT the synonym of romance.
Physical touch can be something as simple as a hand on the shoulder or touching someone’s arm when you agree with them. To someone who’s love language is physical touch, it means a lot. It calms the soul but also lets them know that they aren’t alone.
Unfortunately today, people see this only within a romantic framework. Touch in all the other love realms is important. Think about heroes like David and Jonathan, or Aragorn and Legolas.
If you go to Spanish speaking countries you’ll notice how important touching can be! Whenever you greet a woman in many European countries, cheek kissing is important. In Spain, even men kiss their guy friends on the cheek on special occasions.
In Muslim influenced countries, friends (even guys) hold hands while walking down the street. In Indonesia, children will stick to your side and follow you around.
It’s a great way of showing affection!
Growing up as a kid I didn’t believe in “personal bubbles.”
When people would say things like, “don’t touch me” it would sting, a lot! For a physical touch person it’s essentially a slap in the face, even if you don’t mean it.
As you can see, physical touch is one of my love languages. I am definitely aware that my touching does annoy people, and it can be hard to stop at times.
But try to see it from the other side.
What are your love languages?
This is about you!
The first step to take would be to take the love languages test!. From there, think of some people in your life you would want to improve relationships with. A friend, a parent, or a lover–– whoever.
Using this new lens start guessing what their love languages are. When you next meet them, maybe ask them to take the test! Or ask them questions from it and judge for yourself.
You will exponentially improve your relationships! But most importantly, the 5 Love Languages will forever change the way you see people.
The next time you see someone you care about, tell them “I love you” in their language.
It’s the best way that anyone can love out loud.
After you take the test, I’d LOVE to hear what your love languages are below!