Monday, March 5, 2012

Do You Love Me?

There is a book about love, and the different ways we express it and accept it. It's called The 5 Love Languages. I read it several years ago, and found it interesting and helpful. Here's a quickie synopsis of the five languages.

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Not sure what yours is? You can take this quickie quiz. Interesting, huh? The first time I read this book, it was pretty clear that I'm one of those Quality Time sort of people, and I thought I had it all figured out. Recently, however, a friend of mine also read the book, and we got into a great discussion about it. And as a result, I'm not so sure that Gary Chapman got it exactly right. I think he's missing a few key components to the whole "I know you love me because..." thing.

For example, what about these?

I Can Count On You
This is the language of you're the soft place I land on when things go awry. I can count on you to back me when the chips are down. You will tell me the truth as you see it. You will listen to me rail about life and tell me to shut up when it's time to stop. And when things are going good - you're right there to enjoy them with me. When I reach for you - I always find you there.

You Know Me
This language is all about knowing who I really am. You don't just see the outer me. You see past all my bullshit and into the deeper me. If you give me a gift, it's something I would actually like. It resonantes. If you hug me or touch me - it's a comfort. If you say to me that you appreciate me - or need me - you say it because it's true not because it's what I want to hear. If you do something practical for me - it never leaves me feeling less than or beholden.

We Can Be Real With Each Other
This language is all about no barriers. I can say what I think, I can be totally and completely honestly me - faults, flaws, and all. I can be vulnerable and raw with you. And you with me. We trust each other because we don't hide what we think, we don't hide from what we don't want to see, we just simply are who we are. Unflinching. I don't scare you. And you don't scare me.

And better yet, what about this one:

You know me, the real me, the raw me, the totally messed up me - and not only do you not run away screaming, you actually stick around because you want to. This one is pretty much self explanatory. And I think it's the one love language that we all respond to. Unconditional acceptance. I don't think it even matters - gifts, words, actions, time, affection... it's all nothing if you can't accept me in the raw... me in the real... me at my core... What if I could be that for everyone I know... what if you could?

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