Key Takeaway: The five love languages of Dr. Gary Chapman may not all be prominent in any one person, but they’re all worth knowing and living out. They can be translated into five concrete ways to show your love to others.
The Valentine’s season has just concluded, but by no means has the season for loving ended as well. I personally do not let myself get carried by the so-called Valentine’s rush, because I believe – as everyone here at The Daily You as well – that loving should be done everyday; it should be the backbone and the lifeblood of everyday living. Purpose and love cannot be separated from one another, as the former must be rooted in the latter, which leads to the former. But enough of that.
Yesterday, I was able to answer a fun little personality test by Dr. Gary Chapman, the 5 Love Languages (I answered the one for singles, sadly), which shows how you express and/or feel love the most. I personally scored the highest on Quality Time, followed by Words of Affirmation, itself closely followed by Physical Touch. Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts, not so much – though my definition of Acts of Service and the test’s own are quite different. This isn’t the time to talk about that, though.
Anyway, I realized that while all five are valid love languages, just as with your purpose, they are affected by individuality – some speak more passionately to us, others not as much. Regardless, it should prove a liberating and loving (heh) exercise to try practicing each of the five, and see where you flourish in and where others appreciate the most. Who knows, it might lead you one step closer to discovering your purpose!
And they’re not limited to your significant other either. Though of course a special place should be and is reserved for them, there are many others out there who are worthy of being shown your love – family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers!
1. Say it.
There’s a world of difference between craving applause in general, and words of affirmation from a loved one. I’m not saying that people ought to live for fame, but that there are people who feel most loved by someone personal to them if that person says it.
This can be as simple as greeting your coworker or schoolmate every morning, or sending a sincere “I love you” to your parent at the end of a text. Whenever you’re in a place or setting where you can be a little more intimate, such as a private gathering at home or a quiet evening out, it’s very easy to be able to honestly tell your companions how much you appreciate them, how much you love them. Some people feel much more loved that way – who knows, your words actually brightened up their day.
2. Do it.
Others feel appreciated and loved when you do something concrete for them. This is particularly effective at work, where a harried and stressed colleague may have so much on their plate and yours is relatively empty. Offer to help them. While some may refuse it, saying that they’ve got it or that they don’t want to burden you, the gesture or offer is touching nonetheless and they are bound to remember it next time.
Spontaneous service is also a thoughtful, welcome change to anyone’s day. I know someone who, for example, insists on setting up the table for their mother every evening. The guard/doorman in our building, for example, helps me with my things if he sees I’m carrying a lot (which is most of the time) or thinks I’m having a hard time. It can range from simply opening the car door for anyone (not just your mother or girlfriend) to cooking something for your stressed-out housemate.
3. Give it.
I don’t receive a lot of gifts, and for economic reasons I don’t give as much as I hope to. While it’s the thought that counts, and we are called to not attach ourselves too much to the material world, there are those who feel most loved when given a physical gift or two.
We could take a leaf or two out of the book of the Japanese: Their cultural practice is to give gifts every time there’s a house visit, a meeting, or the like. While some may be bound more by norms than the actual desire to give, to others it can serve as a reminder of just how many occasions there are to prepare a little something.
Don’t limit yourself to special ones like birthdays and Christmas, either. Coming across something you know your loved one will like, and buying it for them, no matter how small, is surely heartwarming to many, and they will remember your thoughtfulness. For example, buying your sibling’s favorite kind of chips, or buying your best friend a book you know they’ve been looking for forever – these random opportunities to give gifts are actually the best ones.
4. Spend it.
I said above that Quality Time was my best love language, and not for nothing: Some people are content with you simply being there for them, simply spending an evening or two regularly with them. Personally, I appreciate this the most – the chance to devote several hours post-work with my best friend (who happens to be a neighbor) to eat and chat and be crazy.
As shown above, quality does not mean expensive or luxurious – going to the house or workplace of the other could be more than enough to remind them that they are loved. A simple dinner out at a favorite restaurant, taking your time, is another common way to spend quality time, especially if you live far apart from each other. If you all have the chance to spend more time with each other, you could even travel together.
5. Embrace it.
Quite a lot of people close to me aren’t touchy (and actually are repelled by it!), but personally I enjoy hugs and others placing their hands on me. I find this particularly effective with those having a rough time. If they’re carrying something, I insist they drop it, then give them an extra-powerful hug – with very happy results.
Out of the five love languages, this might prove awkward for the most, so I advise treading the waters a bit more carefully. But that’s the point of love – you get to know others clearly and deeply, and from there you gauge which of the love languages will be communicated the best to them.
Have a purposeful week!