Establishing and maintaining intimacy is largely rooted in our ability to connect meaningfully with ourselves and the ones we love. When we connect and understand our loved ones, we can support them in way that make them feel validated, loved, and appreciated. The same is true for self-awareness: when we know what our personal needs are we can better articulate to others how they can help meet them, too. Consider yourself travelling to a foreign country where you do not know the language. It would likely feel frustrating, defeating, and isolating if you were not able to find your hotel, order food, or navigate transit simply because others could not understand you. The same is true for maintaining intimacy and love in relationships where your loved one does not communicate the same love language as you. If you cannot speak (or understand) the love language as your partner, you run the risk of invalidating, neglecting, and inadvertently hurting the ones you love.
Gary Chapman, founder and author of The Five Love Languages, presents different ways individuals internalize and express feelings of love. In exploring these aspects of self and other, individuals can better understand how to meaningfully engage in their own relationships in a way that their partners understand.
The 5 Love Languages are as follows:
- Physical Touch: Individuals drawn to this language express or feel love when they can physically engage with others. Physical touch can range from the occasional shoulder rub, long hugs, hand holding, back rubs, or sexual intimacy. It can also look like sharing a lap blanket at a sporting event, high fives, and quick kisses.
- Words of Affirmation: WOA refers to validating loved ones through compliments, words of support, and or encouragement. Those who enjoy giving or receiving words of affirmation might prioritize sharing with others how much they mean to them and acknowledge efforts they notice their loved one is making. This can be done in person, through letters, text messages, or phone calls.
- Quality Time: Those who prioritize their time doing activities, errands, and hobbies together are likely to express their love through this language. Quality time creates opportunity to make memories, engage in regular communication, and be in good company with those who can make the mundane better!
- Acts of Service: Those who enjoy tending to tasks, checking off a honey-do list, and working to make their partner’s day to day life a bit easier might operate from an AOS language style. This can include (but isn’t limited to) tending to repairs around the house, preparing meals, restocking those must-have snacks your partner loves having in the home, or taking helping loved ones tend to their elderly relatives.
- Gifts: Anyone who gravitates towards buying impromptu bouquets of flowers, surprising partners to a weekend getaway, knitting or sewing loved one’s garments, or purchasing items for their loved one “just because” might find that they give or receive love through gift giving. These individuals typically get the most joy from making other people happy especially on holidays such as birthdays and Christmas.
It is important to know that individuals can have more than one love language and that these languages can vary from relationship to relationship! You also might be more inclined to show love in one language but receive love in a completely different way.
If you are interested in learning how to better understand and implement love languages and communication into your relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the clinicians here at Island Clinical Counselling through our website! Uncertain as to what language you or your loved ones are most drawn to? Take the free quiz here!
Written by Cady Redford