Some of us cringe at the thought of “self-help” books, others of us read them all! Beso’s Diana Ryu is hashing out the details inside one of the genre’s time-worn best, ‘The 5 Love Languages’. Whether you’re a relationship and self-help book junkie or not, take a peek at the basics behind this relationship-saving classic. We’ll bet the realization that you could be mis-translating your loved ones’ needs, and being misunderstood yourself, could be just the motivation you need to give this book a solid try! Here’s Diana…
I’m getting married in three weeks. I’ve lived with my betrothed for nearly three years. We met at work (and still work together), we carpool to the office, and are with each other day in and day out for months on end. Weekends are spent lazing around with one another, weeknights we cook together, we even do our laundry side by side…and it amazes me that I can spend so much of my life with someone, and at times still feel misunderstood, or worse, unappreciated.
Don’t get me wrong: He is my big love (the true testament is that we’ve spent more uninterrupted days together than anyone we know and we’re still head over heels). But when I feel like my needs aren’t being met, I know exactly why: It’s because he’s not speaking my love language.
In his New York Times best selling book, The 5 Love Languages, author Dr. Gary Chapman identifies the idiosyncratic ways a person can feel loved. According to Dr. Chapman, the 5 love languages are:
- words of affirmation
- acts of service
- receiving gifts
- quality time
- physical touch
Like a fingerprint, the way you interpret being loved is specifically your own. Perhaps it’s a grand gesture that leaves you breathless, or maybe it’s a simple “I love you” that kicks up those butterflies. Personally, my love languages are words of affirmation and quality time, so a handwritten card or an evening spent chatting on the couch does more for my feeling of worth than any flamboyant display of affection.
The easy part, of course, is figuring out what languages make me feel weak in the knees, and utterly satisfied in my relationship. The hardest bit is realizing that the gestures that matter to me don’t have the same effect on my beau. His love languages are acts of service and physical touch (which means I’m vacuuming and giving him a big hug!). Identifying and effectively catering to an entirely different love language oftentimes feels outright foreign. For instance, if I have the best of intentions and dish out the types of compliments that make me feel good, I think it’s precisely what my boyfriend needs too. In actuality, it doesn’t faze him, which leaves us both feeling a little crummy.
It’s been an incredible revelation to realize that I’m not the perfect partner I’ve puffed myself up to thinking I am. Catering to him with words of affirmation and quality time falls on deaf ears, so it’s an ongoing learning process to speak his love language and not project mine onto him. It’s difficult – much like, well, learning a new language – but having the knowledge in my arsenal helps me pinpoint why I’m feeling neglected, and I can respond appropriately with a slight nudge or friendly reminder. It’s a healthy way to mutually communicate what we feel is missing and quickly address an unintentional oversight. It’s also a humbling reminder to stop thinking about how my needs aren’t being met, but instead take responsibility for how we as a team oftentimes miss the mark for one another.
It’s not to say that I can survive on one love language alone, but a sprinkling of the other four love languages with a heavy concentration of words of affirmation is enough to sustain me. It’s not a cure-all, but after learning other love languages exist, I am not only more in tune with my significant others needs, but can better communicate what mine are too.
What’s your love language? What is your significant others? What about your children and your friends? Grab The 5 Love Languages and get to reading if you’ve yet to figure it out. We love to see couples, and even friends, unlock this riddle! Tell us about your experience translating love languages below!
My love language is definitely receiving gifts and I used to feel bad about it because I worried it meant I was materialistic. Then, I finally realized it wasn’t the gifts themselves but the idea behind them. My mom always brings me things she thinks I need whenever she visits: energy bars, a 3-pack of underwear, a t-shirt she thought I’d like, or face wipes for me to toss into my yoga bag. She never makes a big deal about it but it means she was thinking about me and cares about my well-being. As the oldest of five and the only girl, getting a book I’d been wanting to read or a new piece of clothing has always meant a lot.
Now, my girlfriend does the same thing. She shows up with snapdragons (my favorite flowers), a ring pop, chakra beads for creativity, or a smoothie. It’s not about the value of the gifts that matters. It’s all about feeling like someone understands me and wants to make me smile. Priceless.
On the other hand, my giving love language is all about physical touch. I sometimes have to be reminded about my level of PDA. I think part of that comes from living in the medical, the yoga, and the theater worlds where the rules about physical proximity and body language are very different. Still, I’m big on eskimo kisses and squeezes. I love this book because it helps me highlight what I need and reminds me how to communicate my love to family and friends in a variety of ways. After all, we can always give a little more. Let’s get creative in all the ways we say, “hey, I love you.”
I LOVE your comment Danielle! I think you bring up a great point about thinking about your mom and family, not just significant others. It blew my mind that you could apply this to children as well. It’s comforting to know that I can give the type of love my future kids will need, versus what I think they need. Yes, creativity is it!