We use the word love all the time. I love chocolate. I love sunsets. I love “Game of Thrones.” But there is no way I feel the same about a delicious dessert as I do about watching someone’s bowels get ripped out their anus on a Sunday night. One is infinitely more satisfying than the other. (Up to you to choose which one).
Love is an oversimplified term to express one of the most complex human emotions. That is why the Ancient Greeks had 5 words for love – to represent the different flavors of love we feel. There are varying ways in which we experience love for something or someone, and the deeper we understand these distinctions, the more we understand our relationship to the target of our affection. Not every person you love you are meant to be with, much like how not every pie you love you are meant to eat the entirety of.
Just as there is a distinction between loving your friend and loving your favorite pair of boots (the boots obviously being the ones you confide in on those cold lonely nights) there is also diversity in the ways in which we express love towards each other. Haven’t you ever been in a relationship with someone that you know you love deeply, and they love you, but you both constantly feel unappreciated and misunderstood?
The problem isn’t that the love isn’t there. The real issue is that you aren’t speaking the same love language!
According to Gary Chapman, who has spent over 30 years as a marriage counselor, there are 5 major love languages. We all speak love in a very specific way, regardless if others are actually aware of our modality. I could be shouting at you with my love language, but you if you have different love language, my efforts to communicate might fall onto deaf ears. It would be as if I only knew French and you only knew Russian – we just wouldn’t comprehend what the other person was saying.
We look for people to love us the same way that we love them. When you speak a love language, you assume everyone is fluent in it. Yet in truth, someone might be showing love in their love language, but you’re just not listening!! We all have to become not only bi-lingual in love languages, but uhhh… five-lingual. The more we understand the different ways in which people love, the more we can acknowledge and appreciate people’s tries!
If I learned your love language and spoke it to you, and you learned my love language and spoke it to me, our relationship would be infinitely more loving. We need to be aware of each other’s vocabularies. Imagine if at schools, rather than just learning the basics of grammar and reading, children learned to speak love. If they were taught to be able to identify, translate, and be fluent in all love languages. Wouldn’t the world be such a better fucking place?!!!
Here are the love languages
1) Words of Affirmation: Someone who gives a lot of compliments, says “I love you often,” and outwardly expresses gratitude for things like taking out the trash or doing the dishes. These are people who enjoy praise and appreciation, and want you to give that back to them in return.
2) Acts of Service: These are people who are always doing you favors. Helping out around the house, driving you to the airport, moving your apartment for the 3rd time. They show love with their actions, and are looking for you to be as helpful as they are.
3) Receiving and Giving Gifts: These are not materialistic people looking for lavish presents, but rather “the thought that counts” kind of gestures. They see gifts as a way of showing “I was thinking about you when I saw this fox key chain because I know how you like foxes and key chains.” It makes them feel heard, understood, and like they are on your mind.
4) Quality Time: These people are looking for giving and receiving quality time together. Moments of pure undivided attention. They want the intimacy of interaction, and knowing they are the only thing in your world for that moment.
5) Physical Touch: These people show love through their body. They need affection, and readily give it. A squeeze on the shoulder, hug, kiss on the head. They feel most loved when their body is also experiencing the sensation.
So which one are you? I think we are all familiar with each one of these ways of loving; yet there is probably one that speaks to you most loudly. Know your love language, teach it to the people you love, and ask to learn theirs.
I hope this baby speaks petting as it’s love language… but not heavy petting, because that would be just weird.