What Are Love Languages And Why Should You Learn Them?
According to the Beatles, “All you need is love.” What they didn’t mention was how many types of love there are and how understanding each is key to long-lasting, authentic relationships.
These different types of love are called love languages and include:
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Acts of service
Word of affirmation include saying “thank you” or “you look great today” often and verbally recognizing kind acts. For example, “Thank you for unloading the dishwasher,” is an affirmative way of showing you care.
Physical touch includes embracing, kissing, making love, and even holding hands – all used as expressions of love.
Receiving gifts is the act of being gifted something from a loved one. For them to purchase that gift, they were thinking of you, which in turn, makes you feel loved. Missed occasions like birthdays and anniversaries are particularly hurtful to those who favor this love language.
Quality time is also a gift – of undivided attention. Scheduling dates, talking, and having open communication are all examples of quality time.
Finally, acts of service include doing something nice that your partner would like – cooking dinner, booking a trip, or even taking the dog for a walk in the rain so they don’t have to, can all be used to display affection and love. For someone who favors this type of love, a partner who seems distracted and uninterested despite their “presence” can be upsetting to the recipient.
It’s unusual for two people in a partnership to speak the same love language, which is why it’s so important to learn the language you love best in, as well as your partner’s language.
Imagine your love language was words of affirmation and you thanked your partner regularly for the things they did – great, right? But what if your partner’s language is receiving gifts, and they don’t feel appreciated (or loved) merely by your words of gratitude.
That’s a huge miscommunication that’s going to lead to issues if it’s not worked through with each party recognizing, supporting, and making an effort to understand each other’s love language.
WHATS YOUR LANGUAGE?
Begin by asking yourself, “When I want to be affectionate, what do I do?” Do you immediately buy a gift? Perhaps you send a nice text telling that person you miss them and that you’re excited to see them soon. Maybe you make a note to pick up that wine they really like. Whatever it is, write it down.
Next, ask yourself what makes you feel loved and cared for? Perhaps you’re a sensory person who enjoys physical touch and feels most loved when being embraced or kissed.
Maybe you like receiving gifts and just thinking about your partner bringing home a thoughtful gift fills you with warmth and affection. Again, make a note of whatever it is. The final step to better understanding your love languages is asking your partner or significant other to do a personal assessment, too.
Once you’ve identified the type of love language you both like to give and receive, discuss how to meet each other based on this information.
Remember, your love language preference is unique to you, and this is an exercise of embracement, not change. For example, if you feel most loved by acts of service, ask your partner if they could share some of the household chores without you having to ask, or if they could runs errands on their way home from work to help alleviate your to-do list.
On the other hand, if your partner’s receiving love language of preference is quality time, be sure to set aside dedicated time together without the distractions of phones, email, and social media.
Learning and understanding love languages is not just limited to romantic partnerships, either. You can use it to strengthen your relationships with family and friends, and even work colleagues. The assessment is a good way to begin with friends by having them think about when they like to show affection versus how they like to receive it.
For colleagues or less intimate relationships, where the assessment may not be appropriate, simply pay attention.
Does your manager in the office like to celebrate individual wins to the team via email? If so, they probably resonate with words of affirmation. Does a colleague take on or support with tasks when you’re overloaded? They probably identify with acts of service.
Remember though, as important it is to know what others love languages are, you also need to be in tune with your own. You may have different language preferences depending on if you’re with a romantic partner versus a friend, so make sure you’re always in tune with how you like to give and receive love.
LOVE LANGUAGES FOR THE MODERN-DAY COACH
As a coach, you can use love languages to have deeper, more meaningful conversations with your clients, too. Pay attention to not only what they’re saying but how they’re saying it. For example, you may have a client with a high-stress job who is frustrated by not seeing her family enough in the evenings.
This is understandably upsetting, but as you dig deeper you may come to realize your client’s love language is quality time, and she is both overworked and upset she can’t give the love to her family the way she wants to.
By explaining the idea of love languages to your client, you can help her embrace other ways of showing love when they can’t be there in person.