Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Screw the golden rule! That’s right, you read it correctly. The golden rule states that we should always treat others how we want to be treated. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, this isn’t how it works with love. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman “dissects the principles behind communicating love, which remains relevant and useful in many different types of relationships, from family and friends to romantic partners.” Humans speak five love languages, and understanding this has made a huge impact on my life, and I think it will with yours as well. We can all benefit from these practical and useful applications within relationships. Chapman argues that “primary and secondary love languages reflect both how you give love and how you receive it.”

Humans naturally express love to others in their own love languages, but more often than not, those that are closest to us don’t share the same love languages as us. One must find out the love languages of others in order to cultivate meaningful relationships. On a personal note, after reading Chapman’s book while in pre-marital counseling, my entire relationship was changed for the better. Wrapping my head around these love languages brought my understanding of love to a new level. The five love languages are as follows:

1. Gift Giving

Individuals who identify with this form of love communication tend to express and experience love through the giving and receiving of gifts. This feeling of affection of another person is demonstrated from beginning to end – from the thought, the choosing of an item to the actual giving of the gift itself.

2. Quality Time

This type of love language focuses on quality over quantity. When you are spending quality time with someone, you are giving them your undivided attention.

3. Physical Touch

For many people, sex is likely the first thing that comes to mind when they hear of this love language, but it actually goes back to the basics. As infants, physical touch is the first means of communication that we learn and it has a crucial role in social and behavioral development. Physical touch, as a means of expression can be demonstrated by touching someone on the shoulder, a high five, fist bump, hug, you name it!

4. Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation as a love language entails “verbal communication that is encouraging, affirmative, active and appreciative.” Words of affirmation can be expressed through verbal or written messages that show our love and appreciation of others. Human beings all aspire to feel “competent, valued and appreciated,” and fortunately, positive words have the ability to make us feel these positive emotions.

5. Acts of Service

Doing thoughtful, helpful things for others is another way that individuals give and receive love. Chapman describes acts of service as “doing something for your spouse that you know they’d like for you to do.” The feeling that this gives individuals is something relatable that everyone has experienced at some point – a warm and fuzzy feeling that people get from doing a selfless act. This love language can also relate to leadership. Dr. Rosser-Majors explains that “true leaders serve others before serving themselves,” and this type of unselfish service to others inspires people “to be greater, to go beyond, to aspire.”

This world needs more love and less hate, and now that you know all of the ways to spread it in positive ways, I encourage you to do so! I hope that reading this blog post has given you a new perspective on love, and that when it comes to expressing love to others, you can learn to love others the way in which they want to be loved, and practice this new golden rule – the golden rule of love.

Reference:

Bober, K. (2017, February 14). The Psychology Behind the Five Love Languages. Retrieved from: https://www.ashford.edu/blog/social-behavioral-science/the-psychology-behind-the-5-love-languages