As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are surrounded by images of hearts, flowers, candy, cupids, diamonds and the emphasis on communicating our love. It can be big business with a twist of high expectation. For some, Valentine’s Day is associated with romance and excitement, but for others, it can be depressing and dreaded. Why the polar responses? Because love is a deeply fundamental need and feeling — one that puts us over the moon when we feel it and can keep us hiding under the covers in sadness when we don’t. Let’s look at what can get in the way…
While often complicated, as human emotions always are, feeling loved and being loved can actually be two different truths. What is at the core of the distinction can be considered akin to a language barrier. That’s right, love can easily get lost in translation because there is not just one love language, there are many. Knowing more about how you and the significant others in your life actually feel most loved, can be profoundly life enhancing. For example, we are taught early on about those “3 little words,” being all that is needed to get your deepest feelings across. But, “I love you” can be felt deeply by one person, and feel thin and meaningless to another. Words can be a powerful tool for some, while others need action to truly feel loved. Love is multi-lingual. Dr. Gary Chapman has furthered the delineation of 5 Love Languages:
Words of Affirmation
When your partner washes your car and cannot understand why you are not bursting with a warm, fuzzy feeling, it is likely because actions do NOT speak louder than words for you. You feel affirmed and affirm others with words because this is your Love Language. You appreciate hearing the reasons that you are appreciated by another. Words are the poetry of love for you. They are powerful, as they can help or hurt you, depending on what is said. Let your loved ones know that it’s all about the words for you!
Acts of Service
NOW, when your partner washes your car, you are in heaven. Any thoughtful gesture that makes life easier for you, leaves you feeling like you matter and that you are loved more than anything else. Actions DO speak louder than words for you because thoughtful action is your Love Language. In contrast, inaction can leave you feeling uncared for. Let your loved ones know that it’s all about showing you rather than telling you that makes your heart sing!
Whether it’s a shiny package, a token selected just for you or a bouquet of flowers, the effort behind the gift melts your heart. This tangible communication leaves you with the feeling that you are truly cared for because this is your Love Language. You like to see and touch the gift as a reminder of how much you matter. Along the same lines, a forgotten birthday or occasion can really hurt. Let your loved ones know that it’s all about being remembered with a gift that speaks volumes of love for you!
When your partner is working overtime to earn money for the two of you and doesn’t understand why you are upset, it is because a labor of love does not register the way focused time spent together does. Nothing feels closer than full attention and connection. Uninterrupted time together is your Love Language and allows you to know you are special and a priority. In contrast, distraction and unavailability can feel very empty and rejecting. Let your loved ones know that it’s all about shared experiences and time together for you!
As a tactile being, you are most receptive to tender, physical gestures. Words may be nice, but nothing is as soothing as a hug, an arm around you or having your hand held. This is what registers deep below your skin as being secure and deeply cared for. Physical presence and touch is your Love Language. Likewise, a hands-off or distant approach leaves you feeling isolated. Let your loved ones know that it’s all about being close and affectionate for you!
And of course, while we each have a primary love language, we also respond to a blend of approaches. Just recently, our CEO exemplified being multilingual in the quintessential expression of love. During a planned hunting expedition (quality time), he took his girlfriend’s hand (physical touch), presented a sparkling diamond ring (receiving gifts), and asked her to marry him (words of affirmation)! She said YES and they shared the news with all those who support and care for them to celebrate (acts of service). Now that is unmistakable love language!