How do you love?

Five languages of love can help relationship problems

betty ming liu Relationships 4 Comments

Never heard of the five love languages? Me neither. At least, not until recently. But now that I know the concept, it’s been such a handy tool for figuring out how to get more love in my life. The five languages of love can help relationship problems, too.

Defining the five languages

When it comes to the best love language, there’s no right or wrong. What matters is your personal fluency. It’s about what you enjoy most, the kind of interactions that make you feel truly loved.

Here are the five languages, presented in random order:

  • Love expressed through quality time.
  • Love expressed through physical touch.
  • Love expressed through giving and receiving gifts.
  • Love expressed through acts of service and helpfulness.
  • Love expressed through affirming words and conversation.

How do you love?

How you express yourself 

This nifty, five-language tool is the brainchild of Gary Chapman, a Christian minister who came up with the concept 25 years ago. Even though it’s been around, I meet plenty of people who’ve never heard of it.

When I introduce the five languages in my speech communication classes, my community college students are surprised. The languages have been great for our unit about relationships. To help them figure out their own favorite love languages, we go through a few exercises, like filling in the blanks below:

  • In relationships, I’m most attracted to people who express love through______________.
  • I feel most loved when people express love through____________________________.
  • My relationships fail when the person I’m with stops expressing love through___________.

We also talk about whether we grew up in families that spoke our love language. Having friends who speak our language is essential, too.

How’s your love life?

As you can imagine, my classes go wild for this discussion because it goes deep. They instantly see that the five languages of love can help relationship problems. Everyone gains awareness on why they’ve been disconnecting with significant others in their lives.

For instance, my idea of romance is love expressed through affirming words and conversation. More than anything, I need to hear “I love you.”

Now I know why some of my relationships failed. I didn’t connect with the guy who gave me fancy jewelry or the one who didn’t talk much. They were offering their best love to someone who craved conversation. So, I still felt rejected. They ended up feeling unappreciated too.

As for friends, family and the workplace, I want words of affirmation, too. But knowing the five languages makes me appreciate people more. These days, I can appreciate the cousin who keeps heaping food on my plate when we’re eating out (love expressed through giving), the friends who want to help (love expressed through acts of service). It’s okay that we don’t always talk!

Exploring the five languages 

What about you? It might be nice to spend some time reflecting on what makes you feel most loved. What’s your love language? And are you getting enough of it?

 

Comments 4

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      Author
  1. I think that, whether one feels most loved through conversation or time spent or whatever, it is important to learn to be content with whatever the other person can give. For example, we are all familiar with the stereotype of the clinging parent who can not seem to come to grips with the fact that their child has grown up, has a busy life and perhaps even a family of his or her own and does not have the time or energy for frequent, long phone calls – that there are now many other people in the offspring’s life who have claims on time and on love. The parent must realize this does not mean he or she is no longer loved. Variations of this hold in every type of relationship. The expression of love is not just about what one’s self thinks it should be. We have to learn to recognize and value the expression in whatever form it takes.

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      Author

      So true, Toby! Thank you for pointing out that the languages apply to family relationships and that contentment and acceptance are the keys. Btw, I recently had a nice chat with my daughter’s dad about the 5 languages. We didn’t understand each other in our 20s. But now, decades later and post-divorce, we were able to talk about our different languages and why we miscommunicated. It was a very healing conversation.

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