Love, ___ | Zoe Truong
We all know this day to a T – or at least have gotten familiar with the stereotypes associated with Valentine’s Day. Today’s the day for the romantics, the hopeful romantics, and the beloved. The color red and a dash of pink is in the air, everywhere. Coupled with all of the stores that capitalize on the holiday by selling items that would be perfect for gifts, boxes of chocolates…or tissues, flowers, and such are people expressing their adoration for those they cherish. All of these romantic gestures dated today, annually, mark the celebration of love. Love—the universal message of affection, the basis of human connection, a pillar on the hierarchy of needs—comes in various iterations.
How we express love is prevalent on a daily basis in our relationships (romantic and platonic), but Valentine’s Day in particular brings this abstract concept into the utmost focus. But to make your efforts worth it, learning your and your loved ones’ preferred styles of love may lead to the best reception and strengthen your relationships through understanding. One may be acquainted with the work of Gary Chapman and his publication, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. That, or the concept that it introduces: the 5 ways we experience love, receiving or expressing. Connection in relationships is what these variations are conduits for, listing as words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifting. Below is each listed love language in more depth with suggestions for activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day based on them.
Words of Affirmation
Not unlike the inspiring, daily quotes on wellness-themed Instagram or Pinterest pages, this love language consists of compliments and words of encouragement—verbal or written positive words that express love and care. People whose dominant love language is words of affirmation are either very receptive to their loved ones expressing sentiments of acceptance, understanding, and praise, or they’re the ones constantly uplifting others with their words. If this is your love language, consider telling those dear to you how much you appreciate them or are grateful for their presence in your life through a card, text, or in-person contact, today!
Feelings of affirmation in bondage from physical connection derive from the dominance in this iteration of love. Being cuddled, hugged, or intimately touched arouses a sense of comfort and security. But having this love language may also imply that you read body language very closely. If this is your or your partner’s case, consider engaging in a movie binging session cuddled in a blanket, tonight. But that’s just a suggestion in lieu of the holiday.
Acts of Service
Do you appreciate it when people go out of their way to help or do something for you? Or do you have the tendency to show people how you care about them through your actions? This may be your love language if so. In honor of Valentine's Day, take the initiative to pay for your significant other’s meal or prepare something thoughtful for them.
What one may perceive as quality time is going on dates, traveling, or going to places with one’s s/o. And while that perception isn’t incorrect, those aspects are only part of a larger scope that the term of art encompasses. The term implies the value of having someone’s undivided attention and active listening skills. It’s most appreciated by people that align with love this way when their partners are present, attentive, and mindful. Or an alternative is someone who is on the expressive end, who frees themselves from distractions, listens attentively, and is there to support their partner for whatever they open up themselves to say. Today, engage in communication and deep conversations, or enjoy a nice date somewhere. It can be as simple as listening to a music playlist, relaxing together, or even running errands.
With how commercialized Valentine’s Day has become, gifting is the staple prerogative to celebrating the day – it ranges from a box of chocolates or a card to a luxury item. But the love language doesn’t necessarily operate under the need for the gift to be expensive, it’s just the thought that counts. Gifts serve as a visual symbol of their partner’s love, and people with this love language especially appreciate it when it is personally selected by the giver. Conversely, someone may love to express their love for their sweetheart by putting much thought into choosing their gift – thinking of memories, analyzing their partner’s likes/dislikes, or personalities.
Licensed marriage and family therapist Saba Harouni Lurie states, “When we relate to our partners through our own lenses, we assume that they experience love as we do. We are projecting our own wants and needs onto them. This creates distance and disconnection.” She further explains, “Instead of treating others how we want to be treated, the five love languages encourage us to treat them how they want to be treated. Different people give and receive love differently. If our objective is to show care in our relationships, doing so in a way that is specifically meaningful to them will allow them to receive our love.” Her words clearly articulate the significance of the 5 languages of love – it’s a ground for how we can best understand our peers, acquaintances, and loved ones. Explore what makes you feel most connected with your beloved ones, and there, you will find your love language. But keep in mind, what is considered your style of love isn’t established permanently – it’s constantly shifting with the changes you undergo as a person within your whole lifetime, a person who will have different needs, preferences, and desires over time.
Which love language do you identify with most?