by Jessica Flores, LPC-A
You may have read Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages. How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” (1992). Those five languages include physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service. In this book, Chapman explains the different ways to identify our own love language as well as our partner’s. By doing so, we can better communicate with our significant others to love and be loved to the fullest. The question is, can we identify the extremes of these love languages when they appear? Let’s explore this idea further with each love language.
We demonstrate physical touch with a kiss, hand holding, or a hug when we are happy with our loved ones. On the flip side, when we are angry, physical touch becomes a hair pull, a pinch, a slap, or even the possibility of rape. Another extreme could be withholding physical touch from our significant others when we are upset knowing they need this to feel loved by us. We can always apologize, but what happens when this becomes the norm in our relationships? Are our significant others expected to forget these acts against them without any repercussions? Is this not a form of manipulation? Some people were raised to believe that when a parent whips them or shows any physical form of discipline, the parent hurts more than the child receiving this form of discipline. With this in mind, we will go about thinking that our significant other is in more pain for inflicting our pain, and we are obligated to release them from their misery. Eventually, tell ourselves that we shouldn’t have gotten them mad, or we have to stop talking back because we deserve these acts against us.
Many of us have grown into the societal norm that we get gifts for our birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays. When we receive gifts outside of the expected holidays, we feel especially loved as the gift giver took the time to think about us and our needs and wants outside of their daily routine. Maybe you have verbally discussed how you really wanted something for so long, and you finally get it as a gift. Is it possible we can get used to this, and expect gifts more than outside of the societal norms? What happens when the gifts increase in value each time to keep us happy and the gift giver can no longer afford the threshold they accustomed us to? Do those gifts stop being valuable or bringing us that same satisfaction? Is there a possibility that we become angry because they can no longer “afford” us?
With quality time, we enjoy the presence of our loved ones. Quality time can be spent by watching a movie together, having dinner, going on dates together, or even lying in bed doing nothing. Although we are aware that our significant others have a life outside of our relationship, including work and personal things for themselves for their mental health, this is time away from us. Some of us hastily imply that time away from us is acting out against us. This love language could be abused by tracking them when they are not with us or calling/texting them multiple times in a day because we want to know what they are doing every minute of the day.
Words of Affirmation
It feels amazing when someone recognizes our attributes; when they acknowledge us for us. It sounds amazing to hear about how smart we are, how we look, and the compassion and kindness we spread. What happens though when someone we love is angry at us, and takes it all back in a breath? They call us scum, they say they hate us, and they don’t know what they see in us. All of those positive affirmations are taken away, and we now believe the negative affirmations. Again, they can apologize, but words can linger. Now, we catch ourselves believing those angry words when we do something wrong. This can lead to devaluing our own self-worth.
Acts of Service
We live in a world where our daily lives are always on the go. When someone takes the time to do one of our tasks so we can have more time to relax, it is a sweet gesture. Is it possible to expect this all the time? Is it possible we can grow resentment if they had the time to clean the house, but they chose not to because they also wanted a rest day? In my own home growing up, my mother was always the last one to eat while she served her husband and her kids. She did not get the warm meals; instead, hers were always cold, and she still had the dishes to worry about. We noticed she could never stay seated because someone might need something. Yet, we heard the resentment in her voice at times when she was not acknowledged for her acts of services or even inadvertently rewarded for this. Is this them still doing it for love?
Believe it or not, we as individuals do hold toxic traits. We may have been taught this in our childhoods, or adapted this as during in our relationships. Not only is it our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable when we cause harm, but we also need to teach people on how to love us and treat us. If we do not communicate what is acceptable and what is not, people will push our boundaries consciously or unconsciously. Can we truly blame them if we are allowing it to happen? We are in more control than we think, and we have to make sure we acknowledge that as well as continue to love ourselves outside of our relationships. We cannot depend on others to make us happy. We cannot let someone else have that power over us. Only we can control our internal peace and happiness.
Chapman, G. D., & Green, J. (2017). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Northfield Publishing.