What if you could speak the magical language that your partner or children understood? What if you could easily smooth misunderstandings by appreciating how to help a person feel loved and valued? What if you could actually avoid most conflict simply by utilising your knowledge of what makes you and another individual feel more or less loved, understood and appreciated on a regular basis? Well, I believe that you can. Of course there are times when the demands of life and the balance between your own needs and that of another will mean that you have to choose to delay fulfilling or expressing that need. There must be balance for your own sake and the sake of growth in all concerned. However, you will know how to quickly make up lost ground when imbalance has occurred and is creating friction or concern. Wouldn’t it be priceless to use strategically applied methods to build another up when and where possible?
Which one might you be? Next to each one are suggestions of simple and inexpensive ways to feel love within this language:-
Physical Touch – public display of affection may be very important to you. Holding hands and an arm around the shoulder in public can work wonders however be aware that it may make your partner or child feel extremely uncomfortable (dependent upon whether or not their association is good or bad). If there exists a wounding within this love language; you may actually find P.D.A very challenging. Intimate times should include more massage, foot rubs etc than others would regard as necessary. Foreplay between partners may be more essential and time consuming dependent upon levels of trust established and length of relationship.
Quality Time – time spent together engaged in an activity whether at home (watching the same programme on TV, cooking together, sharing household chores together, playing games) or out and about (a simple walk, sharing recreational interest, travel, shared adventure and excursions/visits). Prolonged poverty may prove to be devastating for these individuals. If your partner falls into this category then tolerance for any long periods of unemployment will be a great challenge for them. Prepare them regular meals at home with candlelight. If you have children arrange for them to visit friends or family (you can return the favour) and spend time focusing on what you can be grateful for. Affirm how you are doing all that you can to improve your situation and how you know that spending time doing special things is really important to you.
Words of Affirmation – praise, listening, remembering details of conversations and details of past experiences together. Being fully present with a person who falls into this category will be extremely rewarding as they will feel valued and nurtured by the experience.
Giving and Receiving of Gifts – a well thought out and planned gift whether hand made, difficult to source or expensive may be the way to your partner comprehending the depths of your love for them. If you are not of this ilk receiving such a gift will not invoke a surge of affection but will be quickly forgotten or may even be resented (for the money the partner has spent on you when you would rather the money were spent elsewhere). Be warned the ‘wrong’ gift presented to someone who communicates love in this way may give rise to an extremely ungrateful outburst or simply present in a moody response. A gift that has simply been picked out in order to give will not be received well. Ensure you are well versed in their likes and dislikes. Find out their favourite colour and style. Prolonged poverty will be extremely taxing for these individuals so be prepared to get creative in this circumstance. A well thought out hand made project will appeal. A charity shop find of their perfect gift may mean more than a shop bought generic present.
Acts of Service – helping, preparing, planning, making a nice home, cooking for others, volunteering help before being asked, see a need and fill a need mentality and charity work often play a significant part in the life of a person of this ilk.
A wounding in any of these areas might be apparent by an inability to receive these attentions naturally or without a subconscious desire to sabotage the relationship (indicating a lack of self worth established by the wounding). They will have established in their infantile mind, now the subconscious adult mind that it is futile or even dangerous to love and be loved as it ultimately leads to rejection. Therefore they will perceive flaws in the relationship (even imagined by paranoia in extreme cases) fuelled by a subconscious desire to end the association due to the level of discomfort or fear of loss pervading their inner being. It will also be obvious by the imbalanced way the individual gives in any of these areas. They will express love in their language but find it difficult to receive and accept love in that same way. For instance; a wounding in giving and receiving of gifts might lead an individual to be extremely materialistic, workaholic, spending more than they can afford to lavish gifts on the object of their affection and being very judgemental and ungrateful if the ‘wrong’ gift is received. They will not resonate at all with ‘it is the thought that counts’ mentality.
Knowing an individual’s love language is foundational to helping them in their personal development and therefore identifying which category a client falls into is something I do as part of my coaching practice. There are of course, other considerations such as learning and communication style to take into account also. This knowledge helps an individual process why they do the things they do and react the way they do. Somehow just knowing that it is ok to feel loved by the receiving of gifts and that it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are materialistic is a very settling piece of awareness. Before I made a point of studying this; I found childrearing a mine field. Now it is easy.
This is the main reason why some children grow estranged from care givers and why some of us have experienced woundings from childhood that we could not explain. For instance, I once supported an individual who lit up when she was praised and affirmed and was often found over exerting herself in the seeking of affirmation from others. She had extreme difficulty relating to her mother and an extreme wounding but she could not justify why and at first sight it really was not apparent. She said that she was always well cared for and enjoyed a good standard of living while growing up. She resented her mother to an abnormal degree yet could not comprehend why. She would say ‘ but why am I so hurt, I don’t even remember why I am so angry?’ The client hated ironing and almost revelled in the wearing of second hand dishevelled clothes; she felt they made her look cool and edgy. There is of course nothing wrong with that as a fashion choice except when it is an outward expression of an inner wounding and is an affectation rather than expression of the true authenticity of the individual. In this instance, the clients wounding was preventing her from maturing and reconciling who she was at her core. She was experiencing cognitive dissonance concerning her sense of self, its true nature and who she would prefer she could be perceived as being. She was playing a part. She actually had many things in common with her mother; all of which she rejected in herself. This was making her sick. Her adopted persona was birthed out of a defiance to her mother and not in congruence with who she was; at work she was well organised, structured and adept at planning yet there was a part of her that disliked this about herself and resented having to look the part because she identified her mother in that. Her mother was an acts of service type person for whom appearances were very important. The client confessed that she was never praised or talked to as a child and as she related this she became very emotional. She said why do I feel so bad? I must be extremely sensitive. There must be something wrong with me. I cannot move forward. I feel so bad yet my upbringing was ‘good’. I didn’t wish for anything. However, once I explained that her love language is words of affirmation and the detrimental consequence of being deprived of being heard, praised and affirmed as a child because Mum was too busy making things look neat, tidy and making the home function; things began to make sense for her. She worked through the memories of moments when she needed her mother’s attention and didn’t get it. We made a paradigm shift in her understanding and appreciation of her mother. She connected with her inner child and began understanding what it is to mother oneself. Her mother was doing the best she could but she never identified that what her child needed was time to be listened to, acknowledged and praised more than anything else.
Imagine that you sense, feel and understand love from giving and receiving physical touch yet you were raised by a care giver who beat or molested you. An individual with this love language would have a heightened response to physical abuse trauma than a sibling in the same circumstance whose love language is for this example giving and receiving of gifts. Why is that? Well, it is because a wounding in your particular love language has farther reaching consequences because the wounding strikes at the person’s core and establishes a foundation of comprehending love in a very detrimental way. If the way you determine love has been subjected to trauma then it is harder to recognise healthy love, establish healthy boundaries and assert oneself for one’s greatest good. After all our earliest experiences develop our comprehension of self and our attitudes to the world around us. This is why it is part of the human condition to get stuck in patterns of behaviour, engendering repeated abuse until we unpack and process why we think the way we do and engage in behaviours we dislike in spite of a desire to want something better for ourselves. With warped conditioning we are destined to make decisions and choices that perpetuate repeated trauma. It is the same instinct and intuition that leads a maltreated, captive animal to remain in the cage even once the cage door has been opened. You can offer freedom but until the root cause of the conditioning of imprisonment has been dealt with one cannot live in freedom. There are of course potential dire consequences for anyone having undergone such trauma as a mere child. However for someone whose natural inclination is to comprehend love through physical touch they can be stuck in abusive behaviour as an adult either as recipient or perpetrator. They may be more inclined to turn to alcohol, food, drugs or even promiscuous sex in an effort to numb or normalise the abuse or perhaps both. Self abuse becomes a form of punishment as they perceive themselves as having ‘asked for it’ or guilt and shame about having deserved it.
I trust that I have helped to convey valuable insight within the limits of this feature. If you would like help determining your own love language or that of a loved one then I would be happy to help.