Gary Chapman says our most basic emotional need is “not to fall in love, but to be genuinely loved by another, know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.”
Reflecting upon recent the past week of my life, a new career, a weekend in Washington, D.C., a marathon finish, and my girlfriend becoming my fiancé, it’s been a crazy seven days.
I’m grateful to have Tiffany in my life. Our relationship is not without flaws (I’m half of it, after all), but it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had.
One reason is life experience. Another is learning Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages.
Love is a choice. To demonstrate that love, we need to recognize the most appropriate language for the intended individual.
LOVE LANGUAGE #1 Words of Affirmation
What it is: Being empathetic and understanding the perspective of another. Only once we know what’s important to that specific individual can we provide encouragement.
What’s it’s not: “Encouraging” someone to get a different job/interest/partner if it’s not within their interests is not affirmation, it’s condemnation.
LOVE LANGUAGE #2 Quality Time
What it is: Giving someone your undivided attention and being genuinely interested in hearing their thoughts, feelings, and desires. The activity is incidental.
What’s it’s not: Passively binging Netflix together on the couch.
LOVE LANGUAGE #3 Receiving Gifts
What it is: A gift symbolizing you’re thinking of someone; monetary value is irrelevant. Your presence in a time of crisis can also be a gift.
What’s it’s not: Being a sugar daddy/mama and spending yourself into the poor house.
LOVE LANGUAGE #4 Acts of Service
What it is: Doing things you know your partner would like you to do.
What’s it’s not: Being a slave to someone else; you still need to maintain your boundaries and self-worth.
LOVE LANGUAGE #5 Physical Touch
What it is: Physical closeness.
What’s it’s not: All about sex.
Not surprisingly, we tend to criticize others where we have our own deepest needs.
Fortunately for Tiffany and I, we both share quality time as our primary language. We eat dinner together without the TV in the background (or worse, right in front of us). We schedule date nights. We travel. She even bought a UCF football season ticket. We work at it.
Chapman recommends three ways to discover your language:
- What do others do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? These are likely the opposite of your love language.
- What do you request most of others? These are likely the things that would make you feel loved.
- How do you express your love to others? This is likely how you’d like to be loved.
You can also try an online quiz.
What is your primary love language? Do you know the languages of those people closest to you in life? Are you meeting each other’s needs?