Let's talk about Love: an emotion we all experience, strive for, and embrace in diverse ways. We even have a month focusing on love. Nevertheless, what is love and how do we define it? For most, love is a passionate or warm affection for another person focusing on connecting and forming attachments. Love helps us recognize significant relationships and companionship within romantic partners, friends, and family members. Although universal and an emotion we all yearn for, the way we love differs from person to person. In fact, research suggests that there are patterns in the way that individuals express and interpret love. These are known as Love Languages!
While there are many types of relationships, each person has their own love language. Exploring and understanding your love language can assist you in communicating your love with others. These languages of love can help manage and repair relationships while also helping someone discover the ways that they prefer to receive love. Dr. Gary Chapman has put love languages into five categories that he claims improve your relationships (“The 5 Love Languages,” 2018). Through relationship improvements, we can see a decrease in unnecessary stress and anxiety that can be caused by troubled relationships (Umberson & Montez, 2010). Chapman proposes that when individuals speak similar love languages, their relationship will strengthen (Bunt & Hazelwood, 2017). The five love languages that Chapman presents include:
Words of Affirmation – words that affirm who the person is. The importance of using words such as “I love you” or “I appreciate you” are valuable. On the other hand, insults can be heartbreaking for someone who relies on words of affirmation. Be mindful of the tone and words you express.
Acts of Service - actions speak louder than words. Helping with chores around the house or grocery shopping for dinner are valuable gestures for this type of love. These acts show others that you care for them by actively showing your appreciation through deeds.
Receiving Gifts – presents or tokens of love! Some feel most loved when receiving gifts. It makes them feel appreciated when a person puts thought into giving a tangible object.
Quality Time – time well spent. Focus on giving the other person your undivided attention or spending quality time with them. Some individuals prefer to be surrounded by loved ones who are mentally and physically present.
Physical Touch – warm hugs! Others experience love by physical touch, this can vary from hand holding to intimate sexual relations. Physical touch shows this person that they are loved.
Although there are many ways to express and interpret love, we tend to gravitate towards one of these types of love languages. When one person’s primary way of expressing love differs from that of the other, the relationship can become challenged (Bunt & Hazelwood, 2017). Taking the time to assess which love language you prefer can help you to diminish challenges that may arise in your relationships. Understanding your needs allows you to improve the way you communicate and connect more with others. Feeling and experiencing love can release significant endorphins and positive feelings - why not take the time to explore your love language. We encourage you to ask yourself what gestures are most meaningful to you in your current relationships. Do you value the warmth of a hug or a surprise bouquet of flowers at your doorstep? While one type of love language usually dominates, people can vary and include multiple qualities from each of the five types. In fact, you may prefer to receive one type of love and express love in another language!
TOPPS encourages you to explore your love language and build healthier relationships. While it is important to understand your needs, be curious about what others need from you. Learning how to love and express love can be challenging and increase stress in relationships. If you are interested in building better relationships, assertiveness training, or effective communication - our trained psychologist are here to help. Visit our website to learn more about our services and move into March with more connected loving relationships!
Bunt, S., & Hazelwood, Z. J. (2017). Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk: Love Languages, Self‐Regulation, and Relationship Satisfaction. Personal Relationships. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/pere.12182/full
Love [Def. 1a, 2]. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster Online, Retrieved February 25, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love.
The 5 Love Languages. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Umberson, D., & Montez, J. K. (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(Suppl), S54–S66. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/