By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
GIFs are my love language. Coffee is my love language. Yoga pants are my love language. You’ve seen these, right? Love languages are a popular meme theme, and we all get what these mean. Whatever is your proclaimed “love language” is something that brings you happiness and joy, and you want more of it. Awesome! A way to tell the world in a funny way what you want!
Did you know this isn’t how love languages were intended to be used? Sorry, dropped a #truthbomb without warning you. Here comes the truth; we are all using love languages completely wrong! Love languages are not a way to ask for what YOU need but to actually connect on a deeper level to OTHER people. When applied in the correct way, the concept of love languages can start you on a pathway to a more connected and fulfilling relationship. And, who doesn’t want that, right?
This idea came from the book of author Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Your Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. There are several different versions to apply in other important relationships or situations in your life as well but they all circulate around the same concept. Basically, there are 5 ways that people experience love when it comes to relationships and interactions with people. While people might experience feelings of love to some extent in all of these areas, most people have 1 or, sometimes, 2 that are dominant.
The important idea is not to identify your own love language but to realize what your partner’s love language is. You’ve heard that old phrase “opposites attract”, right? This comes into play here. Many relationships consist of people with different ways of expressing and experiencing love. To deepen your relationship, Chapman points out that speaking your partner’s love language will allow you to connect on a deeper level because THEY feel loved and appreciated.
In case you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, here they are:
1. Words of Affirmation
Those that land here are all about language and affirmations. This goes deeper than just “I love you” and also includes positive words related to character and telling someone that you are thinking of them. For people with this love language, hurtful words and character assassination will cut very deeply.
2. Acts of Service
People with this primary love language express love by doing things for others. This does not mean they are being submissive! Those that tend to have this love language may feel resentful if they perceive they are being taken for granted or their efforts are not noticed.
3. Receiving Gifts
Do not confuse this with being materialistic! Those that speak the receiving gifts love language feel appreciated with thoughtful gifts and gestures, big or small. Those that fall here will feel hurt when they give a gift that doesn’t get an enthusiastic response or if special occasions are forgotten.
4. Quality Time
Those that love through quality time value creating special moments together that are uninterrupted and focused. People with this love language want their partner to be mindful and present.
5. Physical Touch
People that have this love language are all about showing affection through hand holding, hugs, kisses, and other ways of being physically close to their partner. They will feel disconnected if physical touch is lacking or received coldly.
It might feel awkward or unnatural to express love in a language that differs from your own. This will require you to actually think about how to do this and make a conscious effort. This is where the magic is! Your partner will appreciate this and your relationship will go to another level. And, spoiler, this is hinged on giving to your partner what they need without expecting it back.
To dive into this more, check out Chapman’s book. Go try out this idea of loving people how they want to be loved and see what happens.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.