Leibee: Learn your love languages, improve your relationships

Katrina Leibee

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board

Sometimes, we struggle to show people that we care about them. For some, showing affection is uncomfortable and disturbing, and for others, showing important people that they love and care for them is totally natural and easy. It all depends on the person. 

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When I form a new friendship or relationship, I always want to know the other person’s love languages. Your love languages are how you show and receive affection in relationships. There are five love languages, all equally important and necessary in relationships, but to different extents depending on the person.

The love languages are:

Words of affirmation: This means telling your partner often that you care about them. This might mean doing things like texting them good morning or goodnight. People who find affection in words of affirmation enjoy consistent communication and conversation with their partner.

Acts of service: Offering to help with something or running an errand for them shows someone whose love language is acts of service that you care about them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner expects enormous gestures, but they want to know that you have their back when they need you.

Receiving gifts: This might mean picking up something you think your partner might like and gifting it to them randomly. It also might mean making them a playlist of songs or giving them a small gift. This language gets a bad rep, but it doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just something to show your partner you are thinking of them.

Quality time: A person whose love language is quality time needs to spend time with their partner often, but the key word is quality. If you want to show someone whose love language is quality time that you care for them, try planning a nice date or making the effort to schedule time together where your attention is dedicated solely to them. 

Physical touch: Offering hugs and touching the person they care about (with consent of course) is a common love language. A person who shows affection through physical touch might grab your hand or touch your shoulders often to show they care for you. 

Everyone has different preferences for how they show and receive love. While I might show love through spending quality time with my friends and family, I might feel and receive love through receiving small gifts.

It is important to ask the other people in all your relationships what their love languages are so you better know how to show you care for them. If someone hates being touched, you would want to know that to not only improve your understanding of them as an individual, but to improve your relationship together.

The five love languages came about in a book written by Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor. He wrote the book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” in 1992, and it remains relevant today. The author originally intended for the languages to be viewed as a way to help people better understand their partners, but that perspective has expanded over time.

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According to an article about the book in The Atlantic, “This self-focused way of discussing love languages is very different from what the concept’s inventor seems to have intended. … Chapman’s consistent urging toward learning other people’s love languages and modifying one’s own behavior accordingly has been de-emphasized.”

“It is important to ask the other person in all your relationships what their love languages are so you better know how to show you care for them.”

It is important to know your own love languages, but with one glance on Twitter you might find anything from “Playing Mario Kart is my love language” to “Being a Democrat is my love language.” Over time, the term has strayed from its original intent, which was to help people modify their actions to their partner’s needs.

Especially during a time when our ways of showing affection might be limited due to social distancing precautions, it is necessary to consider how we can still show our friends, family and partners that we care for them. 

Next time you are struggling in a relationship or friendship, consider that it’s not that the other person doesn’t care for you, maybe they just don’t know how to. 

You can take a test to discover your love languages here. 

Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.