How do you know when someone cares about you or loves you? How do you express your care or love for other people? What makes you feel like the people who care about you actually do?
“Love Language” is a delicate form of communication that can break or make any relationship. And it does not apply to just romantic or family love either – it applies to apologies and general workplace appreciation as well. But in the spirit of the month, I will focus on love. There are five types of love languages in total. We all have one which we likely prefer, though it is not uncommon to have more than one. Here they are.
Words of Affirmation: Encouraging words are important to everyone, but they are everything to those with this love language. For them to feel loved, they need to be told in words how they are appreciated: genuine compliments, not flattery. Saying “I love you” is one thing, but telling them why and what you like about them will send their heart flying. Insults and sometimes misdirected criticism can leave them shattered, and are not easily forgotten.
Quality Time: Nothing is as valuable in this language as time. Specifically, the time you spend together with undivided attention. This means putting the phone down, the Facebook away, and being there 100%. Sometimes you will be the talker, other times the listener, sometimes no talking is needed at all and you should just be physically there. Relationships where one party is always absent or means there may be no relationship in the near future. And make sure the time spent is doing something you both enjoy or agree to. It is not quality time if someone is being forced to spend it.
Receiving Gifts: Gifts do not have to be expensive. They can be as simple as sharing a cookie or giving them a shell you found on the beach. The gift is a symbol that you were thinking of them. Make sure it is something that shows the receiver you know what they like, what they care about, what they would use, or else you may miss the mark. Even the time spent making the gift can mean more in the world to them than anything. Missing anniversaries or birthdays can be detrimental to relationships, so be sure to always at least keep these in mind.
Acts of Service: For these people, it is those little acts which stand out the most. Whether it is helping with chores, a surprise car wash, carrying their groceries, opening the door, bringing them food if they miss lunch, it means the a lot to them. This language is composed of subtle everyday actions. Ignore those little things, and the person will feel as if everything they do is not appreciated.
Physical Touch: A pat on the back, a hug hello, clinging to each other while walking, clinging to one another while watching a movie– yes, nearly all of us gear to some form of human contact. But people with this love language actually need it the most. Thankfully, they are the easiest to spot, since they are seemingly always seeking out the next person to tackle. But nothing is as detrimental as denying this person any form of physical contact. Even a friendly poke can be enough.
It is important to be aware of the love language of those close to you. Why? If you want them to know how much you care, you must express it via their language or it will not work. Granted, they may know your love language and how you best express it – but knowing that you love them is not the same as actually feeling it.
To figure out your own language, ask yourself these few things: What do you do for others to show you appreciate them? What are the things you remember the most? What do you complain about? What makes your day? What ruins it? Are there any outstanding patterns from all this? And the same goes for figuring out those of the people around you. Best of luck in your endeavors.