Exploring Love Languages

As February is a month generally associated with love, I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss love languages. I love using the love languages with my teenage clients because it allows them to gain insight into their behaviors within relationships and encourages them to advocate for what they need to feel supported and well…loved! In this post we will cover some of the background philosophies of love languages, describe each of the five love languages, and give some tips for activities/bonding moments based on each love language that are easy to practice during COVID times.

In 1992, Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate was first published. In it, Chapman identifies five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love, and these are termed our “love languages.” At the center of Chapman’s message is the concept of communication, and how relationships can thrive when we understand how we express and want to receive love. For the modern era, this concept has been expanded to encompass relationships beyond the romantic, and ages from children to adults. His books ask important questions such as “how do we show love to our families, our friends, and our co-workers?” And, “how do the ways that we show love change with age and experience?”

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According to Chapman, each person has one primary and one secondary love language. We also tend to give love in the way that we want to receive it. This means that if we can learn another’s love language, we can be more equipped to show them our love in a way that they will see and understand. The five primary love languages are as follows:

Words of Affirmation–Saying supportive and encouraging things to others/your partner, i.e. “I’m so proud of you!” “You look beautiful today.”

Quality Time–Spending purposeful, meaningful time with others/your partner, i.e. scheduling a date, going out for lunch.

Receiving Gifts–Giving gifts to others/your partner that tell them you listen to them and were thinking about them, i.e. you know they love cats and buy them a pair of cat socks when you see them at the store.

Acts of Service–Doing helpful things for others/your partner, i.e. picking up something from the store they mentioned they needed or making dinner when you mention you are tired.

Physical Touch–Being physically close to others/your partner, i.e. giving someone a hug when they have had a bad day, holding your partner while you watch TV.

If you would like to discover what your love languages are, Chapman offers a free quiz on the love languages website (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/) with options for couples, singles, children, and teens. Now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive into how we might be able to use these languages in our day to day lives during the pandemic!

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Words of Affirmation

  • Send a card or letter to a friend or family member.
  • Send an email with positive comments to a co-worker or put a note in their mailbox.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes with a partner or friend really listening about their day and offering support.
  • Challenge yourself to use positive words of affirmation at least 4 times a day.

Quality Time

  • Schedule a socially distanced lunch with co-workers or a short video call to talk about your lives outside of work.
  • Try exploring indoor activities with partners such as cooking dinner together, watching a preferred tv show, playing a board game, or even creating a fort!
  • With children, try scheduling in one or two times a week where they are able to engage with you on an activity of their choice. Put the phones away and really try to be present.

Receiving Gifts

  • Give yourself a challenge to create something for a loved one out what you have readily available at home (i.e. bake something, craft, write).
  • If it is within your budget, consider gifting a friend, partner, or child with an experience such as going to the store to pick out a book or paying to go to a local museum.
  • Consider adding something special to your typical grocery run, such as picking up some flowers, a new dish to try for dinner, or something from the dollar section.

Acts of Service

  • Challenge yourself to think about what you could do to help your co-workers in your workspace. Does a communal area really need organizing? Could you take a peers’ recycling when you are on your way to do yours?
  • With a partner, consider something they may not have had time to do that could be helpful to them. Maybe you have the time to mow the lawn or put dishes in the dishwasher?
  • With friends, think of small gestures that could help them with their days. Maybe you could offer to grab them coffee while you are on your daily run, or take their dog for a walk after they have had a really long week.

Physical Touch

  • With a child, discuss times that touch is comforting or preferred ways that they like to be touched.
  • With a partner (if they enjoy physical touch) try integrating a few more moments of touch into your daily lives, i.e. a hug before leaving for work, offering a back rub, sitting close together while watching TV.
  • With friends (if both of you are comfortable) you could offer the choice of a comforting hug, a hand squeeze, or a hand on the shoulder.

Thanks for learning about love languages with us here at CATS corner! It is our hope that each of us can consider a way that we may be able to incorporate more love into our daily lives.

Sources: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/202009/what-are-the-5-love-languages-definition-and-examples

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