A few years ago, I read Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, and have viewed the ways that I give and receive love very differently ever since. In his book, Chapman lays out five ways that most people both feel loved by others and show their love to others: gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service.
When I took the quiz initially to find out what my love languages were, I found that my top love language for both giving and receiving love was quality time. When I wanted to show someone that I loved them and cared about them, I didn’t buy them something (gifts), or hug them (touch), or write them a letter (words)—I spent time with them. Whether it was over coffee or running errands together or just sitting doing homework together, time spent together was important. Likewise, when I wanted to feel love, I wanted someone to invest time in me.
While quality time remains important to me, I have found that what is easy for me to give is not always what someone else wants to receive. For example, if I spend quality time with a friend everyday thinking that I am showing her that I care, but in reality, she needs a thoughtful word of encouragement, I am doing her a disservice by only giving what I am best at giving, instead of giving what she needs.
You might be asking, “How do I know what she needs?” and that is a great question.
The closer I am to my girlfriends, the more I can figure out what type of love they need. My roommate appreciates acts of service—she feels loved when she comes home to a clean house or folded laundry. Another close friend of mine loves gifts—she feels loved when I bring her flowers or pick something up from a shopping trip that reminded me of her. Another good way to find out is… to ask! Asking a girlfriend how they feel loved is not weird, and she would probably rather you ask her if you’re not sure than to try to figure it out and give her what she doesn’t actually want.
I am doing my friend a disservice by only giving what I am best at, instead of giving what she needs to feel loved.
I have found it to be less complicated than I thought it would be to show my girlfriends that I love them. I take notes on my friends… Weird? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.
I write down little things she says she likes or wants so that later, I can go back and be reminded when I want to show her love. (Ever started a Christmas list in October for who’s-getting-what so that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute? Same concept.)
Here are some ways to love the people around you, according to their love language:
– Fresh flowers
– A potted plant (one that’s easy to grow for those who are green-thumb challenged)
– Favorite dessert or candy
– Something that reminds you of them and something unexpected (not on their birthday or a holiday)
– A hug
– Allow them to hug you if they are a touchy person, and you’re not!
– Braid her hair
The 5 Love Languages are not just for romantic relationships. Apply them in your friendships, too. Here’s how!
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Words of Affirmation:
– Tell them you love them! (Don’t assume that they know, so you don’t need to say it)
– Write a note of encouragement before a big interview, test, etc.
– Write a note about how much their friendship means to you
(*Make sure to put your phone in your purse and leave it there during these interactions!)
– Take them out for a coffee
– Ask them to go for a walk in the park with you
– Spend time working together or running errands together
– If they are long-distance, plan to FaceTime
Acts of Service:
– Running errands for them (or texting to ask if there’s anything you can pick up while you’re already out!)
– Cooking a meal for her or her family
– Helping with housekeeping
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