Oct 6, 2010

Tell me that you love me!

One of my co-workers asked me if I knew the five languages of love. At first I thought she was asking if I knew the romance languages.... French, Italian, Spanish, etc. No, she explained, the five languages of love are the primary ways in which we express our affection for others and also the ways we feel loved. They are:

  • Acts of Service - expressing love through helping.
  • Physical Touch - expressing love through touch.
  • Gifts - expressing love through thoughtful gifts. 
  • Words of Affirmation - expressing love through verbal approval.
  • Quality Time - expressing love through spending time with someone.
Glancing at the list I immediately ruled out "Physical Touch" as my language of love. I am not really a touchy feely sort of person. Huggers make me nervous. They move in so confidently. They seem to instinctually know the proper firmness and length of the hug to be administered. So sure of where they will be placing their hands as they hug you. Their self assured hugs make me feel inept as I struggle to develop my how-to plan for executing the hug. Can't we just smile and say hi?

I do make some exceptions. My husband. My parents. My kids. Hugging them feels natural. I also hug family members for whom I know it's important, like my Aunt Julie. She's a hugger. I can adapt.  I hug my sister when we are having a sisterly moment but not normally.  She's a lot like me when it comes to hugs.

I make it a point to hug my German relatives in genetic defiance to the standoffish personality I inherited from them.  As if I'm proving that the Irish and Scottish blood mixed into my gene pool makes me less uptight than them.  You should see my Uncle Dieter when I hug him.  For just a split second he loses that cool composure and I can see panic in his eyes.

I answered the questions below to help figure out what my primary language:
  •  How did you know your parents loved you, what did they do that made you know you were loved?
  • When you think about experiences that have really hurt or cut you to the core, what were they?
  • What do you do when you want to show someone you love them?
At first I thought my language of love was Gifts. I love to take the time and effort to find the right gift for someone. It's one of the reasons I love Christmas. Other times of year I'm always picking up little things for somebody just because I think they will like them.  But it was the last two questions above that really got to the heart of the matter of my love language.

My father's approval was so important to me as a kid. Mostly because it was hard to get. Not complaining, just stating facts. When my father praised me it was greatest feeling in the world. Couple that with my deepest hurts in life coming from words of rejection and I have to conclude that Words of Affirmation are important to me. Makes perfect sense. I love words.... reading words, writing words, hearing them spoken by eloquent speakers.   Hearing "I love you" is the sweetest sound in the world.

So, as interesting as this is, how can I make it useful in my life? Run around telling everyone to "Tell me you love me."  Seems sort of egocentric.  Maybe the point is to figure out the love language of the important people in my life so I can express my love for them in the language that's most important to them. 

Meine Lieblings!


  1. I LOVE Words of Affirmation, too! :) My boss complimented me in such a nice way (via e-mail) yesterday, and I must have read it at least 3 or 4 times. *smiles*

    I also love to give Words of Affirmation. That is the biggest way that I express my love to others.

  2. I gotta agree with both of you. To me it's words of affirmation.

  3. I'm an all of the above sort of person. I'm one of those confident huggers, except when I know the other person is uncomfortable with hugs. I think words are the most painful way I have been hurt, so obviously word of love are very important too. I love giving gifts, but don't care much one way of another about receiving them.If you really want to show me you love me give me a good foot rub.

  4. I am with you re the hugging - bar my daughters and a few close people - and I am 100% Celt as far as I know - we just didn't do it when we were kids and neither did mum and dad

  5. I've come to the realization that I show love and respect most by listening-- to stop, take a moment and listen. I do hug-- more as I've gotten older.

    When I was younger, my relationship with my father was bad. He was angry and violent. As I got older and discovered the reason he head emotional difficulties-- a horribly abusive and violent stepfather-- and I became a parent myself and realized that you hope they forgive you for all the mistakes you made-- my relationship with him has become close.

    If I've done anything right as a parent, it's been the fact that both my kids-- my son and my stepdaughter-- know that they can always come to me with anything. My schedule with work and school is crushing, but I've taken to heart my father's words about his own regrets about parenting-- that you only get them for this tiny little part of their lives and they're gone. Make the most of it. As exhausted as I always am, I'm never too tired to play a game, watch a movie or just talk to them. I'll have the whole rest of my life after school to rest.

  6. I am not a hugger either....messes with my glasses and I don't like makeup on my clothes....unless it is from my daughter. I use words and gifts....I love to buy stuff for people. Not always spot on with my choices. I make cards too....and write my own sentiments.

  7. MHP - That doesn't surprise me about you. Your writing is so upbeat and makes me smile.

    Pat - You are so awesome.... see what I did there? Words of affirmation. Get it?

    Mom - It's so sensitive and caring of you to temper your confident hugs for those of us who have trouble with them.

    MC - Geez - Guess I get it from both sides of my family.

    Johnny - I feel the same way. There's no reason to repeat the bad patterns we grew up with. I purposely hugged my kids and never belittled or demeaned them. I cringe when I hear parents call their kids stupid.

    Rosemary - Hugs from my kids are the best. I just try not to overdo it since my daughter inherited my dislike of hugs.