Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Five Love Languages, Or Why I Need You to Tell Me How Brilliant I Am

Quality Time ♥ Words of Affirmation
Gifts ♥ Acts of Service ♥ Physical Touch

Many many moons ago, I briefly mentioned The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. My college roommate and bestie for life, Rose,* first introduced me to this book our junior year. She and her then boyfriend (now fiancé!) had made an agreement for Valentine's Day. Rose would pick out a relationship book that she thought Landon* would like, and he would pick out a pornographic film he thought she would enjoy.

Confession: Whenever my friends ask me for relationship advice (which is bizarrely often, considering I'm only six months into my first relationship), I usually think to myself WWRaLD or “What would Rose and Landon do?” They are one of the most mature, most thoughtful, most respectful couples I've ever met. I'm so honored to be a bridesmaid in their wedding next year!

Being the readers that we are, of course Rose and I had to read the introductory chapter first before she could wrap her gift. Then we each took the quiz, and we each read the chapter on our own love language. (My primary love language is fairly obvious—Words of Affirmation. Rose's is Gifts.) Until this week, though, that was as much as I had experienced from the book.

Just that little bit, though, completely changed how I viewed my relationships with my friends and family. Rose and I had been inseparable since spring semester our freshman year. Junior year was our first time living together, and we got along perfectly as roommates. But after discovering our primary love languages, we became even closer. Suddenly Rose was thanking me when it was my turn to clean the apartment, pointing out what a good job I had done. When I went grocery-shopping alone, I started adding her favorite candy to my cart to give to her later. We were expressing our love for each other in a whole new way.

My family hasn't taken the quiz, but I'm pretty sure their love languages are as follows. Mom, Physical Touch; Daddy, Quality Time; H, Physical Touch; J, Quality Time (possibly Physical Touch). I didn't need to change much in my behavior with Daddy and with J, but I did with Mom and H. They both want to be hugged about a million times a day, and that's only a slight exaggeration. I used to get impatient sometimes with their endless need for physical affection. But now I make more of an effort to initiate hugging them when I'm home, or resting my head on H's shoulder on the couch, or cuddling with Mom on the oversized chair.

Last week, I finally read the book in its entirety after discovering it on my bosses' bookshelf. I couldn't put it down. Although Chapman writes from a Christian perspective, he is not at all preachy, and the majority of his advice is mostly secular.

Chapman explains how the head-over-heels “in love” feeling doesn't last forever. On average, it lasts two years. During this time, people think of nothing but their significant other, who is, of course, flawless. But not everyone is dating a flawless woman (except my boyfriend—lucky gent), so eventually people realize their significant other is imperfect.

“Little by little, the illusion of intimacy evaporates, 
and the individual desires, emotions, thoughts, 
and behavior patterns exert themselves. 
They are two individuals.”

Love becomes a commitment. It stops being easy. It takes a genuine effort to pursue real love.

“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love, but to 
be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that 
grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.”

Learning your significant other's love language is possibly the best way to accomplish this. The boyfriend is fairly adept in all the languages (yes, I'm a lucky lady), but I really wanted to know his primary one. Out of his love for me, he took the quiz included at the back of the book, which I had retaken when I finished reading it. The highest you can score in any category is 12. Our results were as follows (me, him):

Words of Affirmation: 11, 7. Quality Time: 7, 8. Gifts: 3, 2.
Acts of Service: 1, 3. Physical Touch: 8, 10.

I thought his primary love language would be Gifts (the darling boyfriend likes to pay for our outings, and he surprises me with little gifts, like my micro SD card and Girl Scout cookies), but at the same time, I wasn't surprised to discover it was Physical Touch. When we're together, we're holding hands almost nonstop. If we're not holding hands, his arm is around me, or I'm scratching his back, or I'm leaning my head against his chest, or he's running his fingers through my hair, or... You get the picture. :) We're just very very affectionate.

We agree we both need to retake the quiz once we're no longer doing long-distance. When you only have a few days together, every three weeks to three months, you can't keep your hands off each other.

I want to be proactive in our relationship, and I love that the boyfriend feels the same way. I haven't spent this many years single and picky to squander away my first real shot at my own fairy tale ending. Yes, we're very much still in the early, “in love” phase of our relationship, but by learning everything we can about each other, including our love languages, we can take one more step towards longevity.

*Once again, not their real names. Also, it's weird for me to create aliases for my brothers, so they're just H & J.


  1. Jesse and I neeeeeed to read this. We own it but never take the time to thumb thru it. Thanks for the reminder. I am gifts. I used to feel superficial about this, but I've embraced it.

    1. It's such a good book, and it's definitely a quick read. Even if you're super-busy AND a slow reader, just reading the introduction, taking the quiz, and reading the two chapters on y'all's love languages will be very informative.

      Also, the Gifts includes the gift of self. Like being there for your loved one when s/he needs you, even if you can't do anything for that person.

  2. I totally want to read this book now. It sounds really interesting. Thanks for the tip!

    1. You should! It's so encouraging. I feel as though the advice is very straightforward, with lots of examples of how each love language can look in a relationship.


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