“How do you spell love?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell love – you feel it!” – Winnie the Pooh
Most of us would agree with Pooh on this one. Love, in its purest form, can’t be captured in words – it must be experienced to be understood.
Dictionaries describe love as an ‘intense feeling of deep affection’. Poets, writers, and philosophers from every historical era used vivid imagery, colorful metaphors, and enchanting narratives to capture this enthralling emotion.
No matter what our perspective on love, there’s no denying its importance to our wellbeing. Love and belonging are on the top of our pyramid of needs, along with other essentials like food, water, shelter, and safety. We are an interdependent species that need each other to survive. Our ancestors instinctively realized that a solitary existence could spell disaster, motivating them to greater cooperation.
Love lies at the foundation of healthy relationships. It’s the glue that holds us together, allowing us to contribute to our shared existence and help one another. It’s love that instills a genuine concern for the welfare of others and makes us responsible members of family, national, and cultural groups with which we are affiliated. Through love-based connections, we experience support, acceptance, protection, and comfort, whether that be with a partner, friend, family member, or pet.
And yet, based on recent statistics, it seems that a large segment of the global population is not feeling the love. Several studies indicate that more than 300 million people (that’s 4.4% of the global population), are suffering from depression and loneliness. It’s estimated that about one in four people will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime.
These staggering figures are a result of various factors, including the hectic pace of modern life, and overstimulation from technology and the media. There has also been a significant shift from community-based societies to ones that focus more on the individual. Individualism tends to isolate people and cut them off from the possibility of forming genuine connections with those around them.
Even people who are in relationships are not satisfied. There seems to be a growing disconnect, no matter what form their relationship takes because they don’t know how to communicate their feelings. Even if there is genuine love, it may feel like you and the people around you are not on the same page.
Like two foreign dignitaries who face difficulties in understanding each other, both of you might feel like you speak different languages. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, people do, in fact, experience love differently and speak different love languages. We all have our own love language that describes the way we feel loved and appreciated, and it’s highly possible that our partner, family member, friend, or child may experience love differently – they speak another love language.
The five languages are:
You can find out what your top love languages are by taking the free assessment here.
Understanding your love language and those who you’re close to will help bridge any communication and intimacy gaps. You’ll find it easier to give and receive love in more meaningful ways, which will deepen your bond and bring you closer together.
When you understand the love languages, you’ll know which actions will have a favorable impact on those you care about and make it possible to convey your standards. It fulfills the ultimate goal of relationships – to make both parties feel accepted and loved.
Learning about the five languages has enhanced almost every important relationship in my life, but it’s also shifted my perspective on the mindset needed to create them. Here are the top three lessons that I garnered from my experiences:
1. Focus on how your love is received, not just how you feel when you offer it: The objective of every relationship is to both give and receive love. Yet most people are fixated on how other people show them love and affection, instead of thinking about how their expressions of love (or lack thereof) are being received by others. While it’s essential to ensure that you’re being treated with respect and dignity, ensuring that you offer the same to those you love is just as important. Take the time to figure out your loved ones’ love language based on their reactions to what you do for them, or by simply asking them what they appreciate most.
2. Attention to details and thoughtfulness go a long way: In the initial stages of any relationship, or in times of need, we tend to magnify everything about the other person. We’re eager to please, so we’re willing to go through great lengths to win their trust and affection. But once the novelty wears off, our focus on them is shifted toward other concerns. However, when we pull back, others may experience it as a loss of interest and feel less important. If this occurs, you can prevent these feelings by taking conscious steps to make them feel seen, heard, and understood. Use your words and actions to convince them they are always part of your world. For example, buy them a book by their favorite author, speak to them about projects that they are working on, and pay attention to their stories of struggle and triumph, offering them support.
3. Small gestures are just as important as the big ones: We tend to believe that it’s the grand gestures, like expensive dinners and vacations, or pricey gadgets and jewelry, that impress. While these gifts may be appreciated by your loved one (especially if one of their top love languages is ‘receiving gifts’), they aren’t necessary to make them feel loved. In fact, if done excessively, it might cause them to feel uncomfortable and suspicious of your motives. A person who isn’t materialistic will appreciate even the smallest gestures of affection from you – a cute text message during the day, cleaning the dishes when they’re unwell, giving them a massage to ease their tension. All these small acts of kindness add up to big feelings of love and continuously remind your loved ones that they hold a cherished place in your heart.
Love is the language of the soul. That’s why it nourishes and strengthens us on the deepest level. We are not merely biological machines, existing to survive. We are here to experience the warm and loving glow that comes from sharing our journey with others. Bonding with other beings is an essential part of our soul’s evolution and growth.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What did you learn when you found out about your love language? Has it shifted the dynamics in your relationships?
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