Ever feel kind of love-constipated? Like, you’ve got all this love for someone and you can’t quite get it out. Or, the reverse, like despite knowing someone loves you, you can’t fully feel it? It could be because your love language isn’t what it used to be (and maybe it never was).
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is one of the best-selling relationship books in history. The premise is simple: We all speak different love languages. And if you want to have a truly loving relationship, you need to learn how to speak your partner’s love language.
This book came out in 1992, then spawned all kinds of spin-offs. Love languages for kids, love languages at work, love languages for dogs (well, maybe). It was so popular that it kind of felt like everyone on the planet had read that book.
Your love language options:
- Words of Affirmation – someone tells you how they feel about you or why they appreciate you, and you feel seen, appreciated, and loved.
- Quality Time – someone spends time with you, fully present and unhurried, and you feel valued and loved.
- Receiving Gifts – someone buys, finds, or makes you a present, and you feel like they’ve showered you with love.
- Acts of Service – someone does stuff to make your life better or easier, and you feel taken care of and loved.
- Physical Touch – someone rubs your hair, snuggles, massages, or hugs you, or kisses you and you feel loved because of that physical connection.
So, which one’s yours?
Are you SURE?
Or, is that the one you recognized in yourself like 30 years ago?
And how about the people you love? Are you loving them in a way they can truly receive it?
Love Language Or An Unmet Need?
Physical touch. I craved it. Probably because it was largely absent in my life. In fact, I’d pay money to be touched. (Wow, that sounds way more salacious than intended!) Specifically, paying a massage therapist was not just about releasing knotted muscles. Often, I’d find my eyes welling up and then try to wipe my tears before they were seen. Having physical touch – even though it was transactional – seemed to satisfy a deep unmet need, at least for an hour or so.
I felt like that monkey in the famous study by Harlow. Essentially, a baby monkey was given the choice of two monkey moms. One was a metal structure equipped with a milk bottle. The other was a soft, carpet-covered structure with no milk. (Spoiler alert: soft monkey was the place to be!) The study debunked prior theories that we bond with our moms because they provide food. When I first heard about this study in college, it stuck with me for decades. It seemed like I could never get enough physical affection to satisfy my soul.
Throughout my life, people showed me tons of love in other forms. But I had to do some translating to recognize and receive it. And even then, it felt a little like drinking soda when I needed water. Sometimes, there are no substitutes for an unmet need.
But what happens when that unmet need is finally, gloriously, lavishly met?
Love, Like a Bottomless Cup of Coffee
“Wow, who knew it could be like this?”
That’s something my sweet hubby and I say fairly often. Both of us love physical touch. It’s a remarkable sensation to melt into his arms, to feel tension and anxiety dissolve when he holds my hand. I no longer feel like someone crossing the desert with only a teacup of water to last the whole journey.
What a difference, going through life with a full tank instead of coasting on fumes and trying to make substitute fuels work. It takes effort to even remember life before.
But what’s surprised me is that with that need for touch satisfied, now it’s easier to receive all forms of love. They don’t feel like some pretty good counterfeit anymore. I did not see that coming! Doesn’t matter which love language someone’s speaking, I can usually understand it now.
If You Want to Really Give and Receive Love, Give Those Love Languages a Second Look
Learning about love languages the first time was like cracking a secret code. It helped me to see ways people were trying to love me that I would have missed because I didn’t recognize what they were doing. More than that, it provided a blueprint for covering all the bases, making sure the people I love could feel it – even if I (or they) didn’t know what their love language was.
So, I’m curious…
Did you read that book? Do you know your love language? How about the people you love – do you know how to show them in ways they can receive? And have you noticed any shifts in how you feel loved and happy over the years?