Growing up in the Disney generation, I had fallen head over heels with the idea of Love. The notion that a handsome, brave Prince would one day sweep me off my feet with singing and dancing became my ideology of what a relationship should look like. Thus, when I entered into a partnership in the real world, I expected the same type of over the top declarations of romance and devotion. Honestly, the “puppy love” phenomenon I experienced in my early adolescence very much fit that mold; it was filled with hand written letters, home made gifts, poems, and the like, which only reinforced my belief that life was just one big fairytale.
As I grew up, matured, and began dating in my later years, I slowly realized that the “puppy love” phase is just that…a phase. Reality set in like a wet blanket, dampening my hopes of days filled with frolicking in the meadows with the man of my dreams, surrounded by rainbows and four leaf clovers. Instead, I was left with this confusing mess of unmet expectations and disappointments thinking that each boyfriend in my life simply didn’t care at all about me. At the end of each relationship, I was convinced that I was nothing but a completely unlovable lost cause.
It wasn’t until I listened to talk on Love Languages while in Kenya that I realized I wasn’t at all unlovable! I was simply unaware of the different ways in which people express how much they care. As a result, I was unable to recognize the gestures of love that were indeed present and flourishing in my relationships, and I mistook it as absence.
The 5 Love Language:
- Words of Affirmation – “I love you”, “You’re wonderful”, “I am thankful for you”
- Gift Giving – material presents
- Quality Time – intentional moments with your significant other
- Acts of Service – fixing the car, doing the dishes, cooking, etc.
- Physical Touch – holding hands, cuddling, kisses, etc.
This whole concept changed my life, both in my relationship with J but also in my closest friendships. I have discovered that there are so many more facets to Love than I originally pegged it for, and understanding this was the key to unlocking a harmonious interdependence. For instance, I have figured out that J is very much an Act of Service giver. Whenever time and schedule permits, he has dinner on the table for me, the dishes washed, and the dog walked and fed by the time I get home. Because I am a Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver, I could have absolutely missed his declarations of love and labeled him as an unthoughtful and uncaring man when in reality, he is the exact opposite.
This idea can also be flipped on its head. I am a Words of Affirmation woman all the way. I love showering the people in my life with verbal praises and encouragements. But like me, J is and Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver. If I wasn’t aware of that fact at all, I could completely miss the mark whenever I am trying to show him just how much he means to me. He would then be left unhappy and resentful.
Thus, Love is a balance. It is a delicate dance between your emotional needs and capacities and those of your partner. It is a fine line between knowing one another’s giving and receiving Languages and adjusting to create a harmonious flow of acceptance. Understanding and applying this newfound knowledge was the difference for me between a healthy, stable relationship and one filled with lies that flogged my self esteem on the daily.
Do you know what your love language is? If not, I encourage you to take some time for reflection and introspection. Otherwise, it may just pass you by. Take it from me, before I knew anything about any of this, if Love were a poisonous viper, it would have bit me right between the eyes.
Lucky for me, I learned the tricks of the trade. Just call me the snake charmer 😉