How To Identify Your Own Love Needs
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One of the best, but perhaps most challenging things about love, is that each of us feel, express, and experience it differently. Perhaps this is why it is such a difficult emotion to explain, because of how subjective it can be.
What this teaches us is that the person we end up with may not feel or express love in the same way(s) that we do. This, among many other reasons, is why communication is so essential to building a happy relationship. Without knowing how one another experiences love, how can you show it to them in a way they will understand?
If your ‘love language’ is different than theirs is, then we can easily reach the conclusion that while you may be showing them love in your way, they will not actually be feeling it, because it is not their way.
This leads me to a subject called The 5 Love Languages. The 5 love languages is a book by Gary Chapman, which illustrates the five different ways that people experience love. Before I go any further, I want to just say that I am in no way affiliated with Gary Chapman or the book – I just think it is a valuable topic to discuss.
Allow me to give an example: You are dating someone new whose primary love language is touch, meaning that they most deeply experience love through physical contact, whether it be hand-holding or otherwise. Meanwhile, your love language is words of affirmation. You show your love to others by expressing it verbally.
At first, this may all seem great. But over time, what may happen is that you verbally express your love more than you do physically. Your partner hears words, but sees no actions to back them up. This could make them doubt your feelings towards them or make them feel unappreciated.
Before we go any further, let us explore what the five love languages actually are, so you can identify which of them you can relate to. You can relate to more than one, but odds are that one of them will be the most true for you:
Words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation are important when expressing your appreciation, regardless of how small the thing is that someone has done for you. Some people, though, are less verbally expressive and may communicate using one of the other love languages. Their idea of reciprocating what you do may be through acts of service, or receiving gifts – so they will do things for you or give you a token of their appreciation.
But, if you do not feel love in this language, you will eventually begin to wonder if they appreciate you and everything you do for them. This is why it is important to not only express your appreciation verbally, but to communicate to your significant other how you best feel love.
Acts of service.
Segueing directly into a virtual opposite of the previous point, we reach acts of service, which could essentially be taken as actions speak louder than words. For some, words mean nothing without actions to back them up. In fact – this rings true for many people, as words without actions are essentially meaningless.
However, regardless of how many gifts you buy or how many times you tell someone you appreciate them – if their love language is acts of service, unless you actually get up and do things for them in return, they will not feel your love.
Gifts do not have to be elaborate items. They can be small, thoughtful gestures like picking up your partner’s favorite candy when you see it at the convenience store, or picking up flowers for no reason. For some people, this is how they both show and feel love most deeply – by giving to (or receiving from) others. No matter how small they may be.
The only thing we can never get more of, and that we all have an equal amount of, is time. For those whose primary love language is time, putting your phone down and giving them your undivided attention is what’s going to mean the most.
Don’t half-listen to the TV in the background. Don’t scroll through your newsfeed during dinner. Hell, don’t even finish reading this article if you’re with someone whose primary love language is quality time – because they understand the time you spend with them is more valuable than the money you spend on them. More money can be made, more time cannot.
I personally relate to this one, possibly the most (along with words of affirmation). For me, any small touch reverberates through my heart. It doesn’t matter if it is my girlfriend holding my hand walking through a store or resting her head on my shoulder – any sort of physical contact is what really shows love to me.
These love languages are a great way to help you define and communicate how you feel love. They are also a great way to teach us how to express our love to our partner in a way we are sure they will understand. Before any of this is possible, though, we need to have a conversation with him or her to define which language(s) they can best relate to. Then, we have to put in the effort to make sure we ‘speak’ to them properly.
The term ‘love language’ is no mistake. Consider sitting in a room with someone who speaks a foreign language and attempting to communicate. You may get a few things across, but they are not going to fully understand what you’re saying. In order to get through to them, you are going to have to learn the nuances of their language – and vice versa. The same goes for love.
What is your love language? Do you relate to more than one? Let me know in the comments!
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Really great article, James! My love language is definitely quality time. In line with this, is it safe to assume that if someone wants to spend time with me whenever such person is available, that means that the other person’s love language is also quality time? Or not necessarily?
Reblogged this on literallylaurie and commented:
The 5 love languages. Mine are almost always: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and gifts, in that order of importance
My husband and I just completed our 1st year Anniversary yesterday. We communicate through our love languages. When my love tank is feeling empty, I communicate that with him and he begins to speak my Love language which is more of quality time for me, then acts of service! His is words of affirmation, then physical touch. I try to tell him how much I appreciate him, and how happy he’s made me. It has become a great tool for our marriage and has created a deep sense of intimacy! Love reading your posts!
Love languages are a critical conversation to have, and I regular talk about the languages of love with potential partners and with friends and clients.
I take this a step further, because I think it’s also important to recognize that sometimes the way you SHOW love isn’t always the way you want to RECEIVE it, and the same is true for your counterpart.
While you may like doing acts of service to show love, you may consider quality time with someone more important for recognizing their love. In fact, you may be doing the service to create time for that person to spend with you.
I’ve been in a relationship where the man I was seeing performed acts of service, but what he wanted in return were words of affirmation and affection in response. He wanted those to feel loved and appreciated for his acts of service.
He felt sometimes like return acts of service were attempts to keep the score even. And he was highly uncomfortable with others doing things for him.
I am not with him anymore, but my current connection and I made this one of our first, top conversations, because a mismatch caused both of severe trouble in our previous long term marriages.
Great blog post, as always James!
* regularly talk. dang it. haha
Mine is Quality Time and Actions over Words (Acts of Service). Men’s seem like Words and Physical Touch. (Return to Venus vs. Mars?) Seems as though our Languages are completely different!
Haha. I must be male then. My top one is definitely physical touch, followed by words and time almost tied.
I don’t really care for acts of service and gifts, meh, to not at all.
Where did you learn that similar genders had similar preferences? I hadn’t even thought of that. My experience with partners hasn’t been consistent either, and they’ve all been male.
great blog post eh?
Can’t believe you cited this. Chapman’s book is definitely a great read, and I’ve been hoping more people would pick it up and understand it. Thank you for spreading it James.
I learned about this concept in a parenting class I took called Parenting Inside Out; it’s Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell. It was new to me and it made sense. It also said people can be a combination of different love languages. I think it’d be great for couples to learn about themselves through this, and for families to apply to their relationships.
Thanks for this post, on point.
[…] Originally appeared at JamesMSama.com […]
[…] any strong relationship. Communication is how we let others know how much they mean to us. Since we all communicate our love differently, it’s important to keep a loose grip on the definition of communication itself, but one thing […]
[…] any strong relationship. Communication is how we let others know how much they mean to us. Since we all communicate our love differently, it's important to keep a loose grip on the definition of communication itself, but one thing will […]
[…] strong relationship. Communication is how we let others know how much they mean to us. Since we all communicate our love differently, it’s important to keep a loose grip on the definition of communication itself, but one thing […]
[…] any strong relationship. It’s how we let others know how much they mean to us. Since we all communicate our love differently, it’s important to keep a loose grip on the definition of communication […]