Love is complicated, and anyone who has experienced its magical and thrilling grip will tell you the same. The way we share our emotions, perceive others and manifest our love for people often changes from person to person, relationship to relationship. With dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble hitting over 5 million users in 2021 respectably, it's becoming more important to stay in touch with your emotions, and find out how you define love. Love in its simplest form, is a noun that describes the deep and strong affection a person has for someone else, but a more open definition will describe love as a verb, something that takes time and effort to maintain and grow. This leads us to the exploration of the five languages of love.
Actions speak louder than words, but not with our first love language; 'Words of Affirmation.' Whether they are spoken, written, or shouted from the rooftops, words of affirmation are the most common way people show love and affection for the people around them, making it the most popular of the love languages.
Words of affirmation are mainly associated with compliments and words of encouragement, such as 'I love you,' 'you look beautiful,’ and 'I am proud of you.' However, they don't have to be as obvious or as strong in their delivery; simple things like noticing a new haircut, remembering work conversations, or just asking how your partner is, goes a long way in creating a strong relationship.
Communication and sincerity are the keys to success with words of affirmation. Those who struggle to use this love language may feel like what they say is not enough or that words can't convey their full emotions. If this is true, then perhaps working on yourself and discovering the words that make you feel good could also make your partner feel good. Love is about discovery, and learning how to express your affection in the best way possible; if words of affirmation aren't for you, then perhaps one of the other four languages suits you better!
The next love language we're talking about is acts of service. Essentially, an act of service is a demonstration of love, whether that be cleaning the house, cooking a surprise dinner or picking up a loved one from the airport; it simply shows your partner that you care about their time so much, you are willing to sacrifice your own. Often the act of service itself isn't necessarily important, or outwardly remarkable; it's used as a representation of effort, something that your partner will be able to recognize the more you do it.
The downsides of acts of service usually come from the balance of the relationship. Those who do more around the house, or appear to show more effort to maintain the relationship, can become resentful of their partner for not contributing as much. If this is a love language that relates to you, it's important to get that balance right, and not expect to receive every time you give.
Romantic or otherwise, physical touch is incredibly potent when showing someone you're present, you care, and you want them to feel better. The physical signs of affection can range from simply holding hands, hugging to sexual activities. Warmth and comfort are universal needs, and sharing yours with another is a beautiful and powerful thing. Even in the cold-hearted business world, deals are often secured through a handshake, a briefly intimate declaration of trust and connection.
For couples, especially those with families, displays of affection are sometimes neglected due to the busy rat race of modern life - but they mustn't be. A simple kiss before leaving the house, a spontaneous hug, or even a quick cuddle on the couch are simple ways to keep the bond between two partners strong. A good hug, for instance, is shown to help us release oxytocin which makes us lower heart rate and even improve healing!
Spending some quality time with a loved one seems like common sense when you think about it, but many people don't make an effort to create distinct moments that help nurture a relationship. Simply being 'around' a loved one or cohabiting with them is not the same as going on a day trip, or a date, or even enjoying a walk together in the park.
Quality time is a time where you've actually planned to create an intimate moment between two people, a space where you can catch up, talk frankly and just relax and enjoy one another's company without distractions. It needn't be all serious though, thinking of a surprising or fun activity to do together is just as valid and often more rewarding. Just think of all the fresh activities you enjoy when starting new relationships, be they romantic or just friendly. Such days are how memories are created!
Who doesn't love receiving a gift? Much more than the gift itself, the item represents a fond memory, a time when someone close to you took the time and effort to go out of their way and buy something to bring you joy. Gift-giving needn't be over the top or too luxurious either; even a small item shows the receiver that they mean something to the giver, and if done well, reveals that they truly know that person's personality.
Words are beautiful and powerful things, but when said too much, they can lose impact. A gift received outside important events, such as anniversaries and birthdays, is not only surprising but often even more appreciated as they're not expected. When the proper thought, care, and love have gone into buying a gift, it can truly make someone feel more loved than ever before. There's a reason why, when clearing rooms or moving home, we're much more likely to discard something we purchased than a gift from someone we care for.
Hopefully, this article should have helped you identify some love languages that you're good at - as well as distinguishing others you didn't even realize you were doing. The world is a crazy place, but if we all take the time to focus and enjoy the moment, it can be a much kinder place.
Showing love to anyone needn't be complicated, and through a mixture of the above actions, we can share our feelings for another in the simplest of gestures to the most fun and thoughtful of gifts. As The Beatles once sang, 'All You Need Is Love!'