The 5 Love Languages “quiz” and books are a frequently referenced tool in the kit for many couples, therapists and general relationship minded individuals, created by Dr. Gary Chapman. These love languages can be applied to various relationships, not just romantic, and are widely known. They work under the premise of understanding how a person gives and receives love.
I am not here to dismantle or discredit this body of work or what it entails; however, in reflecting recently I was compelled to look at them and wonder if there was more to be considered before answering those question sets.
According to Dr. Chapman, there are five primary love languages that people “speak”. These include: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.
My question is this: What drove us to choose these “languages” and if we were to funnel down through our own experiences and point the lens inward, would we find that perhaps our own truths would be in fact brought into question?
- Words of affirmation: While this seems on the surface to be easily understood and applied – WHY do we seek to give (or receive) this way? Did we grow up in a home where our validation wasn’t found or given freely? Did we long for approval or affirmation from a formative figure, only to be rejected or denied it? Were those around us avoidant, anxious or other types of individuals who gave words of affirmation freely because they were themselves longing to hear them back?
- Quality time: Was this something that wasn’t given enough? Do we seek “time” as a means of simply filling space that we are afraid to sit in alone, with our own thoughts and feelings? Is being in the physical presence of the other party something that makes us feel safe/secure/needed/wanted – but only superficially, while in truth we seek a deeper connection?
- Physical touch: Was there too little or not enough physical interaction/affection in formative years? Was there perhaps an episode, period, or relationship that broke us down or hurt us that included the use of physical aggression/violence OR the withholding of such? Have we lost touch with our own bodies and the feelings they create/capture so much that any sort of physical interaction with another feels like it is the only thing that is real, because we cannot recognize and embrace our own physical self? Do we feel insecure or inadequate about our body or physical characteristics and seek physical interaction (including but not limited to sex/sexual acts) as a way of feeling desired or validated?
- Acts of service: Is there something in the past that made one believe that only in giving could we be worthy of receiving? Is or was there a relationship that you witnessed, or took part in, that made it seem like a “one up game” of scorekeeping and you took from that a belief that each action truly requires an equal or greater reaction? Is a person so afraid of receiving love that they believe the only way to keep it is to do do do do for someone else?
- Receiving gifts: Is/was money a primary topic of stress or contention in your household between your parents? Did one of your parents or adult figures “buy” affection or try to give gifts in order to substitute for their actual (or lack of) presence? Is the ego so rooted in validation in the expression of money that gifts are the (seemingly) only/best way that one can let someone know they care, because they need also to exert the dominating presence of their (real or perceived) “success”? Do we shun gifts because we feel we don’t deserve them, because we don’t believe we deserve any good that comes to us?
I’m certain there are a multitude of questions to add to each, but this will suffice for a start. I think if we can break down our core experiences and interactions that may have (negatively) shaped us, we might also find that our TRUE needs and desires surrounding how we give and receive love would differ greatly. We often answer a quiz or analysis of things so quickly that we assume the first answers must be the truth, because they flowed so naturally to the forefront of our minds; however, perhaps those are defense mechanisms, denying the parts of us that need more attention, or require a shift in our own personal growth in order to accurately inventory our desires.