In which Wade talks about love languages and other fun ways to
[Warn: This entry talks about love and emotions and other such
things, which may be too much for macho types to deal with.]
Some questions to ponder while reading this entry:
- What love language(s) do you use to express your love? Which ones do you not use?
- What love language(s) do you find most satisfying (which languages, when used by others, make you feel most loved)?.
- What language(s) of apology do you use when apologizing? Which ones do you not use?
- What language(s) of apology do you "hear"? Which ones do you not hear?
- Does my new love language, Cooperation and Loyalty, resonate, or no?
- Does my new language of apology, Talking It Out, resonate, or no?
- Any suggestions for additional love languages?
- Any suggestions for additional languages of apology ?
- Are there ways I could have more effectively/accurately summarized the love and apology languages? I'm not entirely confident that my summarizes fully capture the ideas.
- Have your read the book(s)? What did you think of them?
I was recently reminded, by a variety of sources, of the The Five Love Languages, a book written by Gary Chapman. I have the audio cassettes for this book on my shelf, but have yet to listen to it. I have, however, looked over the website, because the idea that different people can express love in different ways certainly makes a lot of sense. Furthermore, it also makes sense that if a person is expecting demonstrations of love in one way, but a partner expresses love in a different way, miscommunication, resentment and Other Bad ThingsTM could occur.
Chapman has recently released a follow-up book called The Five Languages of Apology, addressing the fact that different people apologize in different ways. Besides the fact that I have doubts that there are only five love languages and apology languages (there are probably more), and some real doubts as to why there happens to be the same number of apology languages as love languages, I once again think this is a completely valid hypothesis - different people do apologize in different ways. Furthermore, understanding these differences and how oneself and one's partner(s) respond to apologizes is a worthwhile thing to consider, in order to avoid miscommunication, resentment and Other Bad ThingsTM.
How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your mate
Below, I just summarize each language in one line, but if you want to really understand the languages, I'd strongly recommend reading the webpage, which provides 3-4 paragraphs for each language instead of one line. Having not read the book, I do not know whether it provides additional material worth reading, or whether the ideas themselves are sufficient. Just a note, for those of you who, like myself, subscribe to FSM and IPU, try to avoid being turned off by the references to God and Jesus; the ideas are of interest regardless of one's religious persuasion.
Words of Affirmation: Verbal appreciation, compliments, encouragement
Quality Time: Sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly uninterrupted context (fully engaged time, not half-focused time).
Receiving Gifts: Physical symbols of love. Treasure gifts as an expression of love and devotion.
Acts of Service: Performing simple chores (laundry, dishes, etc.) or other acts as a means of demonstrating love. Various dialects possible.
Physical Touch: Physical contact with partner (may include everything from touches on the cheek or a hand on the shoulder to full-body massages and sex). Various dialects possible.
I can see there being up to four different love language-related issues to consider in a single two-person relationship:
The love language that partner A speaks
The love language that partner A wants or assumes others speak (which may or may not be the same as the language they themselves speak).
The love language that partner B speaks
The love language that partner B wants or assumes others speak (which may or may not be the same as the language they themselves speak).
Naturally, things just get more and more complicated in poly relationships with more than two people (all the more reason to be aware of these differences).
I don't really know how common it is for a person to express love in one way, yet expect it from others in a different way. I suspect that these two are often the same, but I wanted to emphasize the distinction for the sake of completeness, and because I can easily see there being situations where they do differ. Especially when one considers that many people do not have a single love language (they may use multiple, or even all, of them), but "hear" some better than others. When ordering all the languages according to importance I suspect that which languages one uses might differ at least slightly from which languages one hears.
Below, I summarize the ways in which I express love, ordered from most important to least.
Quality Time: I love having real conversations with my partner(s) and doing activities together (boardgames, attendance at special events, etc.). It is these actions that make me feel connected.
Physical Touch: I like being very affectionate (hugs, kisses, PDA's, etc.). I do not, however, usually think of sex as a demonstration of love. I realize this is in stark contrast to how many people are wired - I'll discuss this in a separate post sometime.
Words of Affirmation: I like being able to support and encourage my partner, and compliments are enjoyable to give, as long as my partner knows that they are sincere.
Acts of Service: I do not, by default, think of acts of service as demonstrations of love. I can understand why some people do, and I can see myself enjoying such acts more if I do think of them in this light, but I haven't in the past.
Receiving Gifts: I do not, by default, usually think of monetary gifts as a demonstration of love, although admittedly this depends on my partner. I do, however, have a very strong positive romantic association with giving and sharing stuffed animals to people I love.
Below, I summarize the ways in which I prefer my partner(s) to demonstrate their love for me. This was a useful exercise, because I'd never really thought of it before.
Quality Time: Spending time together talking about opinions and philosophies, reading a book together, playing boardgames, etc.; these are all ways in which I develop that sense of connection that is so important in a loving relationship.
Physical Touch: I find physical affection very powerful, and especially like public displays of affection (hugging, holding hands, nibbling of necks, etc.) Whether this is more feeling loved or expressing love is hard to tell - they are synergistic.
Words of Affirmation: Although compliments are nice, I don't usually think of them as indications that someone loves me. This, however, probably has a lot to do with the fact that I find accepting compliments difficult. More on this some other time.
Receiving Gifts: I am simply not a materialistically inclined person. If someone buys me something that demonstrates an understanding of my interests, it is touching, but I often feel uncomfortable about others spending money on me. Gifts with more sentimental (and permanent) value (stuffed animals, etc.) are more appealing though. I never think to myself "I don't feel loved because I'm not receiving gifts".
Acts of Service: I'd prefer that a partner not demonstrate love thru acts of service, but of course this would need to be negotiated if that was how they normally express love.
I feel like there are some other love languages that could be added into this list, and in fact one of them is a more significant language for me than all those discussed by Chapman. It is discussed next.
Cooperation and Loyalty
I really love cooperation. The sense of togetherness that comes from different people working together towards a common goal, adding their own unique collection of skills to form a potential that is greater than the sum of the parts. This is true in any context, but is especially true in a relationship. The mathematics of mainstream relationships are quite offensive to me, with all this implication that individuals are not whole, and that two people add together to form a single "complete" entity. Nonsense. People shouldn't get into relationships until they are already whole. And when you add two people together, the result should be at least 2, hopefully more, not just 1. If you add N people together, you should get much more than N. But I digress - a topic for another entry.
I think of relationships as being about us, not about me and them, but about us. A team that is meshed and works together to deal with the trials and tribulations of life. It isn't that I think of the relationship as "us against the world", because that implies a more antagonistic or competitive flavor than I subscribe to. But it is true that I prioritize my partner(s) above all others, and want to know this is reciprocated.
The language one chooses to use in discussions is a case in point. When talking to someone else about something that I and a partner did, I want to be inclusive, and to use words like we and us. When a partner uses words like I and me in situations were it was us, I feel distanced and less connected.
The above is just an example of what I mean by all this though. I love and feel loved when there is a sense of cooperation and loyalty in the relationship. When I know that we, as a team, will support each other with everything we have. That total trust is given and merited. Of course everyone wants this, but the language part of it stems from the emphasis on us, in the words we speak and the actions we perform.
The 5 Love Languages Quiz
This section is an after-the-fact edit of this entry based on Maria's comment about the "Love Languages" test making its way through the PMM forums.
In general I am very skeptical about the validity of tests (especially tests created by us amateurs, with no clue how to make them scientifically/statistically sound), and this one is no exception. However, it is quite telling that the order that I enumerated above, describing my love languages, is identical to the order suggested by the test (results reordered descending on score):
| Score || Love Language |
|10 || Quality Time |
|9 || Physical Touch |
|8 || Words of Affirmation |
|3 || Acts of Service |
|0 || Receiving of Gifts |
It is always reassuring when one's "intuitive" assessments match up with more "formal" tests. Apparently, I'm basically tri-lingual, with Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Words of Affirmation all being very important to me (the highest score for any given language is 12, btw). I'm surprised that Acts of Service even managed to get 3 points, and not even remotely surprised that Receiving of Gifts got 0. Gifts are nice, but I totally don't think of them as acts of love.
How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships
Chapman's new book hypothesizes the existence of five different ways in which people apologize. Although I provide one-line summaries of each below, you may find the website a useful resource. Note that the website often sounds like it is talking about situations involving Big Apologies (cheating, etc.), but I think that with some "toning down" of the rhetoric, they can also apply to less huge, but still important, areas where apology may be needed.
Here are the 5 languages of apology suggested by Chapman.
Expressing Regret : Adminsion of guilt and shame for one's actions. Saying I'm sorry.
Accept Responsibility : Admit fault, admit when one was wrong, accept responsibility, be sincere.
Make Restitution : Pay for wrongdoing (use partner's preferred love language to establish most effective way to demonstrate sincerity).
Genuinely Repent : Heartfelt repentance (verbalizing desire to change, dedicated plan as to how to change).
Request Forgiveness : Physically ask for forgiveness (difficult for some, as it leaves one vulnerable to fear of rejection).
In some ways, I've always been unconsciously more aware that different people apologize (and expect apologies) in different ways than I have been aware of differences in love languages. I use all of the listed languages of apology, and it is rather difficult assessing which one I use most often, since it depends a great deal on what the partner finds meaningful.
Apologies are only meaningful if they are sincere. I don't apologize to "smooth things over", I apologize if I believe I have wronged someone else in some way. As such, I've found that the most difficult situations to deal with are those in which a partner feels they deserve an apology, but I do not feel this to be the case, or vice-versa. This kind of situation usually arises due to miscommunication or misunderstanding, which is one of the reasons I'm such a fan of conversation and strongly believe that it is better to overcommunicate than to undercommunicate (BTOCTTUC :-)
Expressing Regret : I want my partner to know that I am truly sorry, if I do something to hurt them.
Accept Responsibility : It is important to me that I acknowledge my responsibility for something going wrong, if indeed it was my responsibility.
Make Restitution : I can understand why others would find this language easy to hear, and the discussions wrt it on the website about needing to learn a partners love language(s) and make restitution in a way they will hear is also very valid.
Genuinely Repent : When there is no doubt that fault lies with me, repentance is easy. However, in situations where I do not see fault being so onesided, admitting I'm wrong can be very difficult for me.
Request Forgiveness : I've never considered this as a way in which someone would want to be apologized to. Although it makes sense intellectually, it isn't a language I would "hear" if I were being apologized to.
Below, I've sorted the languages based on which ones I find most "easy to hear" when someone else is apologizing to me. I must admit that, on the very few occasions where I have felt that my trust has been betrayed, I have not been able to forgive (although I'm not sure how much of that was due to the lack of any apology on their part, and how much was due to other aspects).
One important point is worth mentioning. I suspect that I need apologies in fewer situations than most people; if I understand that the intent behind the offending actions was not to hurt me, I often do not need an apology at all. Just having clarified the misunderstanding is sufficient. More on this in a bit.
Accept Responsibility : It is important to me that I accept responsibility for my faults, so when I feel that a partner is not doing the same, it breeds resentment.
Expressing Regret : Knowing that someone regrets having hurt me is of course an affirmation of their love. I'm not sure where to place it relative to other languages of apology though.
Genuinely Repent : It is difficult for me to admit I'm wrong, but I force myself to do so when I feel I am wrong. If I feel a partner is not doing the same, it once again breeds resentment.
Make Restitution : I really can't think of a situation where making restitution is something I need. I suppose it would depend on the thing being apologized for.
Request Forgiveness : I'm not really wired for this kind of apology, although I can understand why it would be satisfying/useful for other people. It just feels too subservient for me, in a context where I want equality above all else.
I mentioned at the beginning of this entry that I have real doubts that there are only 5 love languages and 5 languages of apology, and am especially suspicious that there are supposed the same number of both. I suspect that this "fact" has more to do with practical selling-of-books considerations than any belief on the part of Chapman that he's exhausted all the ways people apologize. My wiring is a case in point, because I'd argue that the way that I hear apologizes best isn't any of the above five, but is instead the following:
Talking It Out
For me, the intent of one's actions is very important in determining how I respond to the effects of their actions. If I know that a person wasn't intending to hurt me or do whatever it is that supposedly merits an apology, then it goes a long ways towards alleviating the problem. If the other person understands why I could be hurt by their actions, even though they didn't intend it that way, it goes even further towards alleviating the problem.
Because of the above, I'd say that the language of apology I hear most strongly is Talking It Out TM. Coming to a deeper understanding of each other, and resolving situations thru increased awareness and mutual empathy, makes me feel closer to the other person. On the flip side, if a partner does not want to talk about the situation (for fear of being assigned blame, etc.), then I often feel distanced, and the situation remains unresolved.
Certain languages of apology are more or less easy for me to hear, but this one (talking it out) is definitely the most significant. It isn't necessarily the only language I need to hear, but it is a required language. Without it, all the other languages of apology are less easy to hear.
The writing of this entry is making me realize that I feel that a need to apologize implies a failure in communication. If perfect communication exists, apologizes would rarely be needed because such communication means that individuals will know what their partners will be offended by, and consciously avoid doing those things. In particular, I believe that situations requiring apology occur due to misunderstanding, and more communication means more understanding. In situations where a person knows that a particular act will be hurtful to someone else and still does it, I'm not even sure an apology is useful. Sounds like a relationship ender to me.
In summary, I think Chapman's efforts to identify different ways in which people express love and apology is quite worthy. The most significant thing being that one must realize that a partner can be expressing love or apology without you realizing it, simply because you aren't wired to hear their particular language. Or, even more likely, you may hear the apology but feel it is lacking something, simply because to you it isn't the most "satisfying" language to hear, while for them it is the most significant way they can express their feelings. Anything that helps in communication and interpersonal understanding is good.