Love is a feeling that invites us to connect in a sublime and healthy way with other beings or things. It represents a deep connection with the loved “object” (partner, children, parents, relatives, friends, pets, the homeland, etc.).
Do you agree with me that love plays a central role in life?
Of course, this doesn’t make it an easy feeling, precisely because we sometimes mistake it for a need. When loving is no longer a conscious decision, you fall into the trap of emotional dependencies. I share the idea that love is a decision and who we love is a free choice, which generates a commitment to care for it and make it grow.
February is precisely the month where publications, gifts, presents and strolls are usually shared to celebrate this feeling. That’s why I don’t want to miss the opportunity to share with readers some of the ideas that Gary Chapman writes in his book The 5 Love Languages. My invitation is that we reflect on our love languages and those of our loved ones.
Before starting, I suggest you think that if, for example, you speak in Russian and your partner speaks in French, they will not understand each other unless both are fluent in the other’s language. We must know our own language and that of our loved one in-depth. Now let’s see what these love languages are and how they can manifest themselves:
- Words of affirmation:
There are people who need to be self-affirmed and therefore words have great value for them. Frequently telling your partner (or loved one) that you love them, if it is important to them, is something you should consider. Contrary to what many people think, words are not empty or “blown in the wind,” they have a high emotional charge. If this is your language or that of your loved one, you should start using the words in their favor: “I miss you,” “how good you’re here,” “you’re very important to me,” “I love you,” “what a joy having you,” “I forgive you,” “you are not a failure,” among others, make those who receive them feel truly loved.
Of course, when we receive these words, we can be committed to giving them back. That is not bad at all, but let’s not forget that it is just one of the love languages . If it’s not your partner’s, you must master his so that in the retribution the affection you return is understood.
In cases where the other is an insecure person, listening to these phrases helps to promote trust in the love bond. Or if that person has not seen in himself the potential that you see, it is an assertive and effective way to motivate his personal growth. When love is healthy, one enjoys seeing the partner reaching his personal goals. And if you have participated in any way in these achievements, you can get to feel them as your own.
On the other hand, when the words that are said are hurtful, they can affect emotionally those who use and understand this resource as a language of love. In addition to feeling hurt, the self-esteem of these people can be affected in the same way. Not explicitly apologizing, insulting, or minimizing them has a devastating impact on these people.
We must consider the non-verbal aspects that accompany the words. If you say “I love you” in a tone, for example, with anger, it will seem incomprehensible to the other person. It is not about idealizing the feeling and believing that there is no room for other unpleasant emotions, because sharing a life project brings us not a few conflicts; it is about not sending double messages and choosing carefully not only the words but how, when and where they are said. What we say with our behavior will always be more than with our words, so even if this is your love language or that of your partner, let’s take care of the non-verbal aspects (tone, volume, rhythm, gestures, etc.).
- Quality time:
Sharing time is essential because that makes us feel important to the other. But we must go beyond the temporal dimension and even beyond physical proximity. Let’s imagine ourselves in a room where each one is in a different activity, they are in the living room and each one is concentrated on their cell phone. There is no real sharing there.
Quality time precisely means being intimate and paying attention to each other. The union lies in listening to each other, looking at each other, really being together. If we are together, we talk, or we both watch that movie feeling here and now. There are couples who live together, but don’t share activities. Each one is focused on what they are doing and the sharing time doesn’t produce real exchange. This can lead to sometimes irreconcilable distances. We must not be strangers or get carried away by lack of time, using the pretext that we have a lot of work. It is essential that the couple dedicate a moment or several a day to share.
What could we do? As much as possible look at each other when speaking. Observe the partner well so as not to request their attention when that person is obviously focused on something that he cannot stop doing. Ask if they have a moment to listen to you. Try not to do anything else while listening to the other. Assertively ask for time to conclude what is being done and be able to give the other person your full attention, for example, say: “I know that what you are going to tell me is very important and in half an hour we can sit down and talk.”
Use body language to show openness. Earlier I spoke of looking into the eyes, but other gestures are also important, such as not crossing the arms, which is a closed posture. On the other hand, nodding your head and making sure the other person feels understood is just as important as knowing how to explain yourself well. All this, together with recognizing how they are as a couple at the moment, will help make the shared time be quality and this language of love is understandable for both members of the couple.
In this love language, I want to first refer to the material, because many times it is about visual symbols of affections. A person who receives them can translate it internally as “he was thinking of me,” “he knows me well,” “I am very special,” “he loves me.” Not everyone needs expensive gifts (which is another matter), there are little details that are very valuable when received from a loved one.
If your partner uses this language it is very important that you pay attention to how you offer a gift. It’s not just about giving, but about offering the other person a symbol of your feelings. Therefore, if your partner loves them, they will be flowers, if what he likes is a tie, that’s what it will be. It is important to understand that the object will be received as a gift if it has this associated symbolism. It is important to note that I am not referring to birthdays or annual celebrations, giving gifts would be a daily part of your way of expressing affection towards another person.
Here is a topic that could be related to the act of giving as a form of affection: personal life stories. Sometimes we grow up in homes where parents don’t have time for their children and need to compensate this with gifts, or it is difficult for them to verbalize love and children are accustomed to receiving material things. It is very likely that in adulthood they have adopted this language of love. It is true that there are materialistic people, but others, due to their history, end up giving an affective meaning to the material.
Again I want to invite you to pay attention to your partner, to know him through his tastes and to give yourself a gift, it is a gift of presence and of being there for the person you love.
- Physical contact
Tactile sensations are a fundamental part of the communication of affection since childhood. The affection and security that the maternal and paternal arms offer us are vital to feel safe. Let’s remember the way in which babies tend to receive hugs and kisses, which helps them have a healthy emotional life, unlike those who are abandoned or have not had physical contact for a long time with their relatives.
That is why this language of love encourages us to communicate what we feel through body-to-body contact. If you or your partner master this language, it is very important for you to touch, caress, kiss, hug and have sex. When this physical touch is missing you will probably have the feeling of not being loved.
In my experience working with couples, I like to explore this language of love, especially in relation to sexual intimacy. This experience that allows us to experience pleasure as a couple can make us feel very safe, cared for and loved. For this reason, it should be pleasant for both of you. The couple must have the confidence to talk about what they like about the physical touch and what they don’t like and be willing to give the other an exclusive and positive experience. The body has sensory receptors everywhere and it is wonderful to explore them.
If this is your partner’s love language, you should map in your mind their body, their tastes in touch and consider touching as a daily part of sharing and loving each other.
So far I have shown that love is a language that must be understood by those who love each other. On the one hand, to understand our partner and take into account his needs. On the other hand, to get to know ourselves and speak frankly about what we like. Feeling love is not enough, it is essential that the person we love receives our affection. If we long for healthy love relationships, knowing love languages can be a starting point. We will agree that this is not the answer to everything, but without a doubt, it generates foundations that can encourage us to grow and build a future with that person whom we have consciously decided to love.
This text was inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.
Psychology and Wellbeing is a section specially designed for OnCuba readers. Leave us your questions in the comments, and we will take them into account for future deliveries. You can follow the work of psychologist Yaima Águila Ribalta in each fortnightly edition of this section and on her YouTube channel.