There are many ways we can feel loved. While a quick search on the internet will quickly outline Gary Chapman’s five most common love languages i.e. words of affirmation, being of service, receiving gifts, quality time spent together and physical touch, how good is the information if we’re unable to utilize it in our own relationships? Think about it. Wouldn’t you love to be cared for in a way that felt complete? Absolutely!
By-and-large, my love language is words of affirmation. To me this means we listen to understand and affirm one another. We ask questions about each other’s lives and this allows us to weave ourselves into a deeper and richer relationship with one another. But the big shocker came to me recently with the realization that my love language just might be different than many of the people close to me. Shocker!
Yep! I’ve been spending years expecting certain people to ask me how I was doing, how work was going and how the family was. As close as these people are to me, I thought they would also ask about our challenges and how we were fairing. But with each interaction and milestone, more disappointment grew. Certain their lack of inquiry meant they didn’t care, I began to pull away.
And this, I’m convinced, is one of the biggest reasons relationships, of any kind, are so difficult. Perhaps we all speak different love languages, and so we complain that people close to us are unable to give us what we need.
So what happens when you speak a different love language from your partner, child, friend, parent or family member? First off, you’ll feel it. It might be difficult to detect at first, but it can lead to heightened emotions, misunderstandings and feelings of emptiness. It’s at this point that we start to pull back and stop trying.
We compare this to one person speaking English while the other person is speaking Cantonese. They may try to communicate with one another with the theatrics of a mime, but the fact of the matter is they do not understand a lick of what the other person is saying. This, ultimately, is how love languages work. If I’m showing you love in a way that does not compute with you, I am not only wasting my time but I’m also wasting yours and in the end we both feel empty and not understood.
So if you face relationships like this, then it’s time to start playing detective. Ask yourself how the person expresses any or all the five love languages to you? What expression of love do they use the most? Which of the five love languages do you express the most and which one does the person show most appreciation for?
Next, consider reinforcing your appreciation when love is expressed to you in your preferred love language. Do your best to help those close to you understand what makes you tick.
Finally, be bold and ask what language a person prefers. You may find after time that you start to fluently dance to each other’s love languages. And speaking of dancing, be patient with the process. Us humans can be a hard-headed bunch. I applaud you for working on this life changing habit to happiness.
Dena Betti is a monthly writer for the Community Focus. She is a graduate from the University of San Francisco, Executive Director of #hersmile Nonprofit and Certified Life Coach. Limited personal coaching slots available or sign-up for a Habits to Happiness workshop, visit http://strongerthanyouknow.com.