For thousands of years humans have been trying to form an understanding of one concept that affects each of us, yet still eludes us all. Billions and billions of people around the world and throughout history, have all experienced this one same thing, but each will talk about it in a beautifully unique way. This concept is love.
From the Roman god of love, Cupid, to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there are certain figures in the realm of popular culture that have become almost synonymous with love. The concept has been captured in literature, paintings, and movies time and again – its essence always captured in the briefest flashes.
Yet the manifestation of love in each story – the couple’s unique dynamic, or the relationship’s development from infatuation to decades long marriage – is rather varied, even if the very concept at the heart of the matter is the same.
Every character in popular culture, every person reading the books or watching the movies, will have their own interpretations of what it means to love and be loved. This is why love is so hard to pin down, with each new interpretation, comes a new understanding and expression of it.
The Languages of Love
This is the very concept behind relationship counselor Dr Gary Chapman’s ‘5 Languages of Love.’ He identified the different ways in which people communicate their love and explained the importance of learning these languages in order to better empathize with those around you. This isn’t just with romantic partners, but with family, friends, and work colleagues too.
Each person will likely have one or two ways in which they best both give and receive love. By looking both at yourself and your partner, and truly understanding the ways in which each of you both express and interpret love, you can begin to strengthen the bond you share.
Words of Affirmation
For some, the best language of love is simply, language. By choosing to express their emotions verbally, or through writing, this is the simplest and most straight-forward of the love languages.
In the English language we have just one word for love and when compared to Sanskrit, which has an impressive 96 words for love, it pales in comparison. By being more expressive with the words you choose to show love, finding unique ways of doing so, you can really make an impact on the people you care about.
Beyond simply spending time with the person you want to express your love for, you should ensure that this time together is special, meaningful, and high-quality. Be free from distractions and totally devote your time to the other person.
By showing someone who speaks this language that you are willing to entirely devote your focus and attention to them, even if this is time spent in simple silence, they could be hearing this as a shout from the rooftops!
Acts of Service
Actions speak louder than words. For some, this is much truer than for others. By washing the dishes, cooking dinner, or even doing something as small as holding the door open for your partner, you could actually be showing them a very deep affection.
These acts could be interpreted as an appreciation of their own hard work in the relationship, especially if they are usually the ones doing the cooking! They may start to feel undervalued in a relationship if it appears there’s a lack of appreciation of the work they put in.
For some, receiving a physical gift is the biggest display of love. It becomes a totem for the relationship that they can hold onto. The gifts don’t have to be anything extravagant, in fact oftentimes the most thoughtful gifts are based on the most minute details about the other person – show them you listen and that you think of them by giving them the perfect gift.
This language goes a lot deeper than sex. Whether it’s hand-holding, a kiss, or even something as simple as a touch on the arm, shoulder, or face, making the effort to communicate through the non-verbal will show them how much they mean to you.
There’s some science behind this too – physical touch can release a surge of the feel-good hormone oxytocin through the body, especially if you’re emotionally close to the person. Released by the brain, in the hypothalamus, oxytocin has been observed high levels in couples (particularly in the first 6 months of the relationship) and has anti-anxiety effects in the body.
If You Love Someone, Tell Them
It can be a huge eye-opener when you finally learn which of these your partner is receptive to, but it is important to remember to continue to communicate through all five of these languages. Even if we are most receptive to one or two, we continue to enjoy the traits of all of these languages so shouldn’t stop speaking them!