Discovering The Secret of Love Languages
If your sweetheart gives you a gift, does it make you feel loved? Or do you prefer if it he fixes that squeaky cabinet door? Maybe, being held and kissed is what makes you feel adored, or spending time together, or perhaps just hearing him say “I love you.” Whatever makes your heart sing indicates your emotional love language.
The concept of love languages is based in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. The book has been oft-quoted because of how important it is to recognize your partner’s love language and talk to them in that language, not whichever language you personally prefer. It’s easy to give another person what we want ourselves – but for truly lasting love, you need to give them what they need. Chapman’s website offers an online test to determine your own love language.
Alicia Taverner, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., said she uses the concept of love languages as a primary communication tool when working with couples. She defines it as, “A love language is the way in which you interpret love, and being loved. It is how you understand and feel loved by your partner. The five most common love languages are: acts of service, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts. People may have more than one love language, or way in which they feel loved by their partner. Love languages are very important to understand as they are the key to making your partner happy and once your partner understands your love language, (and vice versa) and learns to speak it, it leads to relationship satisfaction.”
It’s not important that your love language be the same as your partner’s, but it is important to understand your partner’s so that you can give love the way in which they interpret it, she said.
Taverner explained, “There is not one love language that works best, however if you and your partner can understand each other's love language, your relationship will be much more satisfying than if you do not. Over time people's love languages can change, but the core language you speak generally stays the same.”
It’s easy to find common ground once you know your partner’s love language preference, said Gina Stewart, founder of Expert Online Dating. “I remember a therapist explaining love languages to me when I was having a trouble in a relationship, ‘Here's the problem: he loves ham sandwiches. You hate them. He keeps giving you ham sandwiches to try and show you his affection, but since you hate ham sandwiches you interpret it as a bad thing and grow resentment at him trying only to give you a ham sandwich.’ For me, that was a giant lightbulb that guided the rest of my relationships. A ham sandwich analogy works for any of the love languages. If you and your partner understand how the other prefers to give and receive love, you can better accommodate and appreciate your partner, which leads to a better relationship. I don't believe it's necessary to have matching love languages, but it makes it easier," Stewart said.
If someone doesn’t speak the same love language, nor do they try to figure out what your love language is, it will cause disharmony in a relationship.
Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, said, “Many people feel unloved, misunderstood, and unappreciated by their partner or spouse because they feel they are standing on their head showing love to the other. The men are from Mars, and women are from Venus idea can really hold true. You just need to understand the way your partner communicates, expresses, and shows their love. If you can speak their love language and communicate what loves feel like to you, you can achieve harmony and appreciation for each other as well as understand each other better and avoid frustration.”
“When a man fills your car with gas and puts air in your tires, you might feel that it was just a kind gesture. It really might be his way to express love for you, no matter how unromantic it seems,” Trombetti said.
Learning your partner’s love language and what matters to you as well, will strengthen your relationship. Lori Bizzoco, founder of Cupids Pulse, offers these tips on how to use love language to your advantage:
- You can determine your love language by taking quizzes online or by simply asking yourself what you value most in a relationship.
- Look for patterns in your behavior and relationship, that can help lead you to finding your language. For instance, do you share your feelings with your significant other by holding his hand or rubbing his back? Perhaps Physical Touch is most likely your language. Maybe you enjoy doing little things for your partner, like folding his laundry, cooking him dinner, or even taking out the trash. In this case, Acts of Service is the language the best fits for you. Or perhaps you feel closest to your love when you just get to hang out together. If so, Quality Time may most represent your language of love. It's a fun exploration of self and you may uncover things you didn't realize about yourself.
- Know that both men and women can answer these questions in the same way. People with similar interests and types mesh together better because they want and are looking for the same thing in a partner. But that doesn't necessarily mean that opposites cannot attract. As long as you know and are self-aware regarding what language you are speaking, that's the first step to forming healthy, communicative love relationships in your life.
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