Love Languages

Additional ways to show the women in your life you care about them. 

Last week I wrote about ways to improve listening skills between men and women. I’d like to continue in that vein by talking about other ways you can connect with those you care about.

My clients are often surprised to hear that such different ways of “feeling important and cared about” exist, depending on what someone’s “love language” is. Learning your own love language and that of others is a tool I use to help people solve and smooth out relationship problems.

A book I consistently recommend is “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It describes the five ways people typically feel loved, and will help you learn your language and the language of others. Chapman lists the five love languages as:

  1. Acts of service – doing something for the other person.
  2. Quality time – spending time with the other person.
  3. Words of affirmation – giving compliments and other affirming verbal messages.
  4. Gifts – giving and receiving of gifts.
  5. Physical touch – regular physical touching.

Even if you like all five of these, there’s usually one you prefer (and one that the special people in your life prefer). If you assume others will come in on the same “love language” wavelength as yours, things may not work very well.

In a recent discussion on a Facebook widows page, a woman wrote that her needs weren’t getting met by the man she’d been dating a few months. She wanted him to give her compliments and feedback (such as “I think you’re smart”, “I like spending time with you”, “I hear that you’re sad”, etc.)

She said she had told him this a number of times (it turns out it was not in the way he would clearly understand), and he continued to not do it. At the same time, she admitted he’s a pretty good guy, he does nice things for her, and she likes spending time with him.

My guess? This woman probably feels cared about through “words of appreciation”. And it seems like her guy might be an “acts of service” type person (he keeps “doing” things for her to show he cares).

So you can see what might happen if he learns her “language” is words of affirmation and, at the same time, she figures out the meaning behind his “acts of service”. She’ll learn to recognize and value his acts of service. He’ll see her need for affirmation at a new level, and know how to honor that.

In addition to my professional training and experience, I have some personal knowledge here. I too prefer “words of appreciation”. And my late husband was an “acts of service” guy. He struggled to understand what I wanted him to say. When I created a list for him of things to say that would make me feel cared about, he was relieved. He knew it would help him say what I needed to hear, and that when he said those things it would make me happy.

Some people tell me a man shouldn’t need a list of what to say. They say he should just know what to say (especially if she’s already told him). And especially if he cares about her. I can see why they say this, because at first glance it seems logical. (And there might be a few rare cases where it actually works). In our case our communication was much smoother when I provided the list.

I should mention that the story can also be reversed – it can be the man whose love language is “words of appreciation” and the woman’s language is completely different. In that case, it could be that he needs to give her a list!

I’d love to hear about your love language and any challenges and successes you’ve had with it in your life.  I’ll look forward to your emails!


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