When we hear about the importance of healthy relationships, we generally think of romantic relationships. But, building and maintaining strong relationships is not reserved exclusively for the married set. Love comes in all forms. The love for a romantic partner is different than the love for a friend or a family member, yet it is still love. Those love relationships must be nurtured if they are expected to thrive! As single girls, we may not have a spousal relationship to worry about, but it’s equally important to maintain a strong support system of friends and family. It all starts with understanding how our loved ones prefer to be appreciated.
And so we have The 5 Love Languages.
While The 5 Love Languages was originally geared toward married couples, they’re applicable to other kinds of love relationships as well. We all have an emotional need to feel loved and appreciated. That can come from a parent, child, friend, or any other significant person in our lives. Interestingly enough, love isn’t clearly expressed in the same way by every person. We all have our own unique language for giving and receiving appreciation and affection.
Do you know your love language? Take the test here. If you’re married or in a romantic relationship, it might be helpful to take the test more than once. First, take it with your partner in mind. Then, take the test again while considering your friends or family. The results could be surprisingly different for the various relationships in your life.
Many variables, including how we were raised and our individual life experiences, shape who we are. They also create the filters through which we interpret the behavior of others. For example, my primary love language (by a very wide margin) is Acts of Service, with Receiving Gifts as my secondary. For me, words are hollow, but actions speak volumes.
Because Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts are my two highest-ranking love languages, they are also the means by which I tend to express love and appreciation. My best friend, Jenny, also ranks high on the Receiving Gifts spectrum. Whenever we spend time together, it’s a gift-giving BFF love fest.
A big disconnect happens when primary love languages differ between two people. My friend Sam is a proud man who’s uncomfortable receiving gifts or acts of service. When I want to show Sam that I care, I have to overcome my natural instincts and focus on his Love Language: Words of Affirmation.
Likewise, my mom ranks highest on Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. (I knew this long before I asked her to take the test.) My life is busy. I’m usually going Mach 5 with my hair on fire. But for her, I have to carve out time, even if it’s on the phone while I’m stuck in traffic, to make sure she knows she’s loved and appreciated.
My friend Nicole is an interesting case study. Her primary love language for friendships is Quality Time and her secondary is Acts of Service. But she also loves, loves, loves to give gifts – even though that language was near the bottom of her list. For Nicole, I know that spending quality time is the best way to show her that I care, while accepting gifts from her is the best way I can let her express her friendship.
So, how do you discover the primary love languages of your loved ones without asking them to take the test? Easy. Pay attention. Listen. See what they do and what they say. If they complain about not feeling appreciated by someone, ask them what would make them feel appreciated. That’s a clue! If they are over-the-moon appreciative over one thing, but only offer a courtesy thank you for another, that’s another clue.
Being fluent in love languages is a skill that takes time, but it’s well worth the effort! The bonds between you and your friends and family will be deeper and stronger. And you’ll be ahead of the game whenever you might find yourself in a romantic relationship. Take the test, then take the adventure of loving in another language.