Learning My Love Language

I just finished reading The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, which is one of those books talked about amongst Christian circles. I have to admit, I was skeptical of reading it, because I thought it sounded gimicky. Single Christians I know would always ask each other, “What’s your love language?” which sounded as trivial as, “What’s your sign?” I was pretty convinced this was just some Christian fad.

But in my ever-growing hunger for knowledge — especially on the topic of relationships — I figured I would have to familiarize myself with the 5 love languages at some point. So I got the book this week and finished it moments ago.

I admit I was wrong. This turned out to be an important book that I believe all people should read. Not only will it help you in your romantic relationships, but with all relationships in general (family, coworkers, friends).

Similar to secular self-help books that say everyone has a preferred “sense” in which they tend to communicate best (e.g., visual, audible, tactile), Gary Chapman — the book’s author — suggests that everyone gives and receives love in one of 5 ways (read: love languages). These five languages are…

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Should you not recognize the love language of your romantic partner, friend, or colleague, you risk building conflict in the relationship through their perceived lack of love coming from you. If the way you choose to show love and appreciation is not the way the person wants or is capable of feeling love, then your efforts are in vain.

For example, if the other person’s love language is Words of Affirmation, all of your sacrificial service or gift-giving is not going to make up for the lack of verbal affirmation the person craves. Likewise, if the other person’s love language is Quality Time, then all of the encouraging emails and bouquets of flowers aren’t going to make up for the lack of love they perceive from the little quality time you spend together.

Right away, I knew what my weakest areas of showing love were… Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. For most of my life, I was very distant in my relationships with other people. I was distant verbally (didn’t often talk, much less provide encouragement to other people), and I was distant physically (wasn’t much of a hugger). And I certainly didn’t like to do acts of service — not even service that acted in my own interest, not to mention others’ interests.

If I was good at any of these languages, it was gift-giving (I love to give stuff away) and quality time (I love to spend time with the people I love).

As it turns out, my primary love language is Quality Time. I both love to give and receive quality time with those I love. I can’t think of a better way to experience the love of another person than having the chance to hang out with that person for long periods of time.

Secondarily, I think I also respond well to Words of Affirmation. I’m not totally convinced about that, as I tell myself I don’t care what other people think of me or what I do — but I’m sure much of that is bravado, and that I really do appreciate it when others publicly appreciate me.

Aside: If someone wanted to make me feel unloved, all that person would need to do is stop hanging out or communicating with me. (Can’t help but laugh at this, given my recent personal circumstances. It explains so much.)

The challenge for me is learning to identify the love languages of other people, then using their love languages to communicate my love and appreciation for them. As I said earlier, I have a lot of work to do in certain areas. The biggest of which I think is Words of Affirmation. I’ve grown up with and around such cynical, critical people that it’s hard for me to say something encouraging to someone without sounding disingenuous to myself. That’s just something I’ll have to get over.

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