On the Bright Side
February 4, 2023
Love is a funny thing. It's hard to define, yet most of us know what it is. Many of us recognize that there are different kinds of love, but we call all those different things by one word: love. Some of us live a life of love and it shows in a variety of ways; some of us don't think about it much but the way we do things shows our love anyway.
Some of us love a lot and show it easily, but we find it's not always accepted as such. Some of us think we are unlovable because we find difficulty in receiving love unless it is offered up in recognizable ways.
It can all be very confusing, huh?
I've recently been introduced to the idea of five languages of love, and the more I study it, the more it makes sense to me. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, and that holiday is all about love, it seems like a good time to think and write about it.
The concept of the languages of love was developed by marriage counselor and linguist Gary Chapman. In his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (published in 2015), he describes five categories of language and actions that communicate love in different ways and different styles: 1) through words of affirmation; 2) spending quality time; 3) receiving and giving gifts; 4) performing acts of service; and 5) through physical touch.
Just take a look at these five languages:
1. Words of Affirmation. If this is your primary love language, that means you value frequent words of affection, as evidenced by many "I love you's," words of encouragement and appreciation, compliments and other positive verbal and written expressions.
2. Spending Quality time. People whose love language is "quality time" believe in spending time together, like sharing meaningful conversations and/or activities, being fully present in an interaction, giving and receiving undivided attention.
3. Giving and Receiving Gifts. Gifts can be visual and tangible symbols of love, especially when the gift giving process reflects careful thought in choosing a gift suited to, and especially meaningful to, the receiver.
4. Performing Acts of Services. Some people feel the most loved when their partner goes out of his or her way to make their life easier, when actions speak louder than words, when people would rather be shown they are loved than told. Performing acts of service is a great way to show someone you love them without telling them in so many words.
5. Physical Touch. People with physical touch as their love language feel most loved when they receive or give consensual physical signs of affection, including kissing, holding hands, cuddling, hugging, sex. Physical intimacy and touch is a powerful language of love.
Reading through these, I think the idea of these five languages of love goes beyond just partners/lovers too, and can apply to anyone special in your life, from other family members to friends to casual acquaintances to strangers.
Sometimes it's hard to remember there are many ways of showing love, and sometimes we miss a chance at love – or give up on love – when we don't recognize that someone else may "speak" it differently than we do. Knowing these five languages of love may help close the gap when we realize that that other person – be it a lover or a friend or a stranger – is showing love in a way we may not have previously appreciated.
We all may relate in some way to the five different love languages – I do! – but we all also have one or two that speak the loudest to us – I do! And the language you most identify with in giving or showing love might be different than the one you prefer in receiving love. It's still all a little confusing, isn't it?
Yes, but I find it very helpful to know which language I speak most freely to those I love, and which other ones I can appreciate more fully coming from people who love me. It's a happy learning experience, and I think learning how we all use the languages of love brings us so much closer to understanding and living in love every day.
Happy Valentine's Day.
© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel is a local writer/photographer and author of the newly published book On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.). She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.