In the spirit of the candy-hearted and chocolate-dipped lovey-dovey holiday that arrives this week, I’ve been pondering, well, “love.” Specifically, how we show it to the people that we, well, love! Showing love means different things to different people – it’s all a matter of preference and the “love languages” that we value.
“Love languages,” you ask? Mmhmm! There are five of them. A relationship therapist named Dr. Gary Chapman, Ph.D. authored a book many years ago that narrowed down the way that people express love into five main “languages.” According to Dr. Chapman, the love languages are:
-Words of affirmation: People who respond to this language are most appreciative of love expressed via the spoken and written word. They delight in hearing about how much they mean to you and receiving verbal compliments. If this sounds like your Valentine (or anyone else in your life), write them a letter or a card! Leave a cute little note on the bathroom mirror or on a sticky note on top of the coffee maker!
-Quality time: This language is all about making memories, undivided attention (read: put the cell phone DOWN!) and feeling prioritized. It doesn’t have to be fancy! The more time spent with you, the more fulfilled your loved one feels – even if it’s just a lazy afternoon on the couch watching a favorite show! You know your Valentine best, so decide what kind of time they would enjoy the most. Would they enjoy a wine and cheese tasting together? A meal at a new restaurant? Lounging at home with board games and hot chocolate?
Physical touch: You probably guessed it, but your “hugger” friend? Yep – she’s probably fluent in this language. Physical touchers feel loved, literally, by feeling love. They need love to be expressed physically. Hugs, kisses, hand holds – yes, yes, and yes! Personal space isn’t a thing with this gang, so get all up in there! Show your Valentine some PDA – hold hands as your stroll or give a little arm squeeze while you’re standing in line – it won’t go unnoticed!
Acts of service: We’ve all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words.” For acts of service receivers, this couldn’t ring truer. Sure, words are still great. However, when you do things for them is when they feel the most cared for. Bring your Valentine coffee in bed. Empty the dishwasher. Fill up their gas tank so they don’t have to add that stop to their morning rush. Pack them lunch.
Receiving gifts: Don’t roll your eyes yet! Gift receivers don’t necessarily need flashy, pricey or lavish gifts. Oftentimes, they appreciate thoughtful gifts full of meaning. These gifts come from really listening and learning about your Valentine, jotting down things they mention and looking for things that are so “them.” Are there any Friends watchers out there? Remember when Ross gives Rachel the broach that she saw in a store window that looked just like her grandmother’s? That’s the spirit!
Love. For something so simple, it sure can be complicated! Luckily, understanding what drives the people that we love makes it easy for us to cherish and value them. Thanks to the research on these “languages” there’s literally a guidebook for successful loving – how perfect is that, for this sweet week and beyond?!
Sweet (and chocolately) regards,