Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Speak My Language

A notable quirk of my Valentine's Day this year was the lack of bitter status updates on facebook, you know, the "Rah rah rah, my name's Debbie Downer & I'm alone today/I hate corporate holidays" type. My only conclusions as to why the updates were either positive or just not there are that I'm at/near the age where, a) people I know are in steady relationships, so they have nothing to be bitter about, and/or b) people have matured and don't really care that Valentine's Day is a consumer holiday.

I pretty consistently fall into the indifferent to Valentine's Day camp, which leads people to sometimes view me as a Love Scrooge. In actuality, I have plenty to say on the subject. As of late, my big thing with capital "L" Love is Love Languages.

You may have heard of these five languages--words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch--but I challenge you to really consider them. These are the ways we know people care about us and how we reciprocate that care . Knowing your love language is knowing what makes you feel loved, appreciated, and overall a worthy human being. There are several quick and painless assessments here to learn the language in which you are most fluent.

An easy way to figure yours out is deciding which language put into action you prefer the majority of the time. Note, most people have several that apply and even though these are "love" languages, they apply to any significant relationship, not just romantic ones. I think it's also interesting that typically we express and receive love through the same language, but this doesn't have to be true. So maybe you feel loved when people write you nice letters, but you express love/care/concern by mowing their lawn or giving them a hug. Here's a quick overview (taken from the official website):

Words of Affirmation (I receive love this way, but struggle to show love in words unless I write them.)

Even though I'm a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words, it's hard to deny how nice it feels when someone tells me I'm awesome at everything I do compliments me. If you like to hear the three little words, "I love you," and like even more to hear the reasons, you're probably a word person. In contrast, insults leave a particularly nasty sting.

Quality Time (My top scorer for love reception, and I do pretty well reciprocating with it as well.)

Those of us labeled "attention whores" by friends and family (sometimes strangers) probably speak the language of Quality Time really well. We like people to be there for us--with no distractions. When those we care about don't reply to our texts or pretend not to see us when we stand on furniture ignore us, whether intentionally or not, we take great offense and often to go to greater attention-seeking lengths.

Gifts (I can receive love from gifts, but they definitely rank low. I'm not a great giver of gifts either, unless they come in limerick form.)

Gifts can mean a multitude of things, but for the receiver, "it's the thought that counts" really does count. Something simple that regardless took intentional effort is huge, and giraffe-themed items every day gestures go a long way to show Gift receivers that they mean something to the giver. Re-gifting not recommended.

Acts of Service (Another low scorer for me. I'm fairly independent & don't want to feel indebted. I like to think I'm decent at serving others, though, especially since I just spent a year focusing on doing just that.)

Think of this love language as doing favors for another: cooking, cleaning, fixing things, giving rides, running errands--all with a smile on your face expecting nothing in return. Leaving messes or general laziness says to Acts of Service receivers that you don't really care about their feelings.

Physical Touch (What's great about this one is it's hard to give love this way without receiving it right back. Unsurprisingly, it's the one I generally go to.)

This is more than just hugs and kisses. Touch is holding hands, playing with hair, sitting next to someone on the couch while you watch TV, and being in close proximity to another. It's easy to disregard people's personal bubbles go too far with touch (we have a word for it: touchy-feely), but the absence of it in a Touch receiver's life is destructive.

Again, these languages are useful in a variety of relationships in our lives. It's a great way to understand family and friends so you can best show them you care. If Grandma is clearly a Quality Time person, a gift basket does little for her. She'd more likely "feel the love," so to speak, if you went for a walk with her or called her on the phone.

And before any of you think/say it, yes, I absolutely made sure to let you know what my top love languages are to help you know how to GIVE ME ATTENTION show me I'm appreciated.

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