Esther Greenwood

Posts Tagged ‘affirmation’

The Five Love Languages

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2009 at 6:37 am

Years ago, I was sitting on my ass watching old tapes of The X-Files when my friend Spam came online full of wisdom and insight he learned from some class in college.  He kept talking about something that sounded straight out of a Dr. Phil book, the “five love languages.”  I ignored it for the most part: for one thing it sounded incredibly hokey, plus usually when this topic came up I was single and it never occurred to me to research the matter for my friends’ benefit.

However, corniness aside, I asked Spam not too long ago to re-explain to me this whole “love language” theory.  Spam, I have to say, is part of one of the longest, sanest, and by far the happiest, relationship I’ve ever seen.  He and his girlfriend Katie love each other, and are so damn good at encouraging one another and being there for one another it almost makes you sick (but not really because you are so happy for them).  Spam tipped his relationship success to what he learned about the five love languages, so I’m here to share because this is supposed to be a blog about dating and relationships and not just full of funny and inappropriate stories or me venting and or pondering.

According to Spam, who is quoting this dude Gary Chapman, there are five ways we humans express love.  The below is a quote from this site:

  • Words of Affirmation
    This is when you say how nice your spouse looks, or how great the dinner tasted. These words will also build your mate’s self image and confidence.
  • Quality Time
    Some spouses believe that being together, doing things together and focusing in on one another is the best way to show love. If this is your partner’s love language, turn off the TV now and then and give one another some undivided attention.
  • Gifts
    It is universal in human cultures to give gifts. They don’t have to be expensive to send a powerful message of love. Spouses who forget a birthday or anniversary or who never give gifts to someone who truly enjoys gift giving will find themselves with a spouse who feels neglected and unloved.
  • Acts of Service
    Discovering how you can best do something for your spouse will require time and creativity. These acts of service like vacuuming, hanging a bird feeder, planting a garden, etc., need to be done with joy in order to be perceived as a gift of love.
  • Physical Touch
    Sometimes just stroking your spouse’s back, holding hands, or a peck on the cheek will fulfill this need.

Now, as Spam (and this Chapman dude) explain it, we don’t all “express” our love in the same way.  As Spam recounts: “Words of affirmation, compliments, are really important to me, and probably my most important love language, for receiving.  When I was going out with XXX, she would never SAY nice things to me, so I thought she didn’t like me.  We broke up after six months because of it… turns out she was in love with me, I just wasn’t picking up her signals.”

So, the moral is, we’re supposed to use these different expressions to show people we care, and recognize the fact that we don’t all show in the same way, and adapt/recognize the other person’s “language” and try to see that just because they aren’t, say, holding your hand doesn’t mean they don’t love you, yadda yadda yadda.  At the same time, if the girl or fella wants their hand held, learn to hold their hand.  It’s a give and take thing.  You have to work it out, compromise.

And now it sounds like I am lecturing.

I swear, most of my other posts will be hip and cool.

So, anyway, I was thinking about this the other day, because I like to give people gifts.  Little things, like a note or flowers or cookies.  And I’m reminded of something my dear friend Stella told me once, about how at times it can be exhausting/daunting to be my friend (this is not to build myself up) because she couldn’t keep up with it, she showed her affection for our friendship in other ways (listening to me vent over and over about the same damn issue or person, for example). And I understood this and accepted this.

I’ve got to give this Chapman guy some credit, though I really do wish he’d change his theory’s moniker.  I’m reminded of how hurt and frustrated I was when I dated a gay guy (I didn’t know at the time he was gay) because he would never touch me (duh, dude dug dudes) or verbally say nice things to me or encourage me (I’m with Spam on the emphasis of the verbal front, as a writer I guess words are doubly important to me, though “actions speak louder,” so I don’t know… maybe I’m full of it– ANYWAY).  But what he did do to show he cared was, to use Chapman’s phrasing, the “acts of service” and “gifts.”  I can only see that now, five years later.  At the time I thought he didn’t give a shit about me.  And while I know now he didn’t in the way I wanted, I do believe he cared in some regard.  We just spoke a different language (and had different interests, or one main similar one).  And in the end, that ruined us.

If you go off of popular entertainment, a woman’s primary “love language” (I still cringe when I type that) is the “words of affirmation” and “quality time.”  Get those two together and it’s a cuddle fest on the couch talking about feelings, a guy’s favorite thing to do.  Hardy har har.  I crack myself up.  Oy.   According to this same popular entertainment stereotype, men’s primary “love language” would fall under “gifts,” “acts of service,” and “physical touch.”  I’m not one to give credence to stereotypes, but notice the lack of overlap.

Anyway, I just thought I’d post this interesting theory up there.  Next post will be something wicked or funny or at least a little less Oprah, a little more Dan Savage.  Maybe with a little Ellen.

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