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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Romance Languages

Funny how a casual comment can worm its way into my head and keep my brain cells preoccupied for weeks on end.

An acquaintance mentioned she had read a book, long ago, that described people's "love language." The author’s thesis was that we communicate love in four distinct ways: through physical expression, words of affirmation, actions and gifts. She explained that people who speak “physically” feel loved, and offer love, through touch…hugs, pats, handholding, snuggling and caressing. The physical expression goes way beyond sex, although sex is very important to physical people. Affirmation people need to hear/offer verbal words of support and praise. Action “speakers” feel loved when someone does something for them, and they express their love by “doing” for the other. Gifts people want gifts, they want tangible evidence of love and they, in turn, give gifts to express their feelings for the other.

My friend explained that most people are “multi-lingual” to one degree or another. She said that children communicate in all four ways until they sort out what works best for them…often influenced by their parents’ modes of expression.

As a consequence, when people feel unloved or under-appreciated, it may be because their lover is communicating in a language they barely understand. Words of affirmation may not mean much to someone who wants/needs gifts. If someone needs their lover's touch to feel truly loved, or if they need to hear just how much they are appreciated, but what they get is a recitation of how hard the other works on their behalf…well, it's simply not enough. Love gets lost in the communication.

Some relationships are simply Towers of Babel.

* * *

Well, me being me, these notions kept me up quite a few nights. The author’s postulate makes sense. It feels true at gut level.

My knee-jerk reaction was that I’m an “action” person. But, in truth I relish all forms of expression (I’m still a child at heart, I guess).
I further confused myself by reflecting that I am an action person due more to necessity and a sense of obligation/responsibility, rather than as a primary means of communicating love. If work and money were not an issue, I'd lean heavily on the other three forms. The actions that mean the most to me are the simplest ones. I’ve touched on this before, in this entry.

I'm a generous gift-giver, offering presents to others better than anything I would buy for myself. Although I love to give gifts, particularly those I’ve created with my own hands, I’m not overly keen on receiving gifts. I guess that suggests that I’m not a true “gift” person.

I freely (and often) write love letters, and communicate through the sharing of poetry and music. I crave physicality (in all of its manifestations). Often, though, life demands action, and I find myself doing what needs to be done.

In fact, I got really hung up on the “action” concept...ah, yes...more sleepless nights.

* * *

Part I of III
(to be continued...)


Blogger reciprocal solitude said...

Turns out there are 5 love languages: the 5th is "quality time", shared activities. Doing things together, going places together, cooking together, quality listening, etc. Just to cause you more sleepless nights...

Wed May 16, 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger deb said...

I read that book about a year ago. I realized that I like physical expressions of love. I want to be touched-perhaps a cat in a former life? I want to be hugged, kissed, held, caressed. It doesn't matter what, just touch my skin, make contact with me.

I do that all the time with my patients too, touch them as I walk by them, or while I talk to them, hug somebody if they need it.

Touching makes me feel like I'm not alone.

Wed May 16, 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, Ms. Solitude...there'll be no sleepless nights for me because of this. I am, without a doubt, a "quality time" person. I relish playing with a playmate. I derive great satisfaction from that. Playing with a lover is absolutely essential for me. Oh, yes, that's a language I know quite well!

Thu May 17, 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Deb, make an appointment to get a massage! Now!

Thu May 17, 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger oblivion said...

I'm just like Deb. I'm very touchy. Always have been. I've noticed my kids are becoming that way as well.

Thu May 17, 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger deb said...

A massage is a good idea. My back's been tight and sore again lately. I increased my weights and workouts in an effort to lose my belly for the summer (sad but true) and my back seems to be taking the brunt of it. Probably worried about my daughter leaving as well.
I think I'll take your advice.

Thu May 17, 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger August Moon said...

Glad it sorted you out! Yes, having the full story gives great peace, doesn't it?

Thu May 17, 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger reciprocal solitude said...

Oops -- I wasn't signed in properly. Well, you know it was me...

Thu May 17, 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I'm not surprised you are a "physical" person, Ms. Oblivion. In fact, your blog is almost a case study of the pain and anguish a person feels when he/she is not loved in the way(s) that mean the most.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thu May 17, 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

On the receiving end I'm a combination of the first three (physical, words, and actions). On the giving end I show my love with all four.

My parents showed their love primarily through actions. Physical love and words of love were never seen in my parents' home when I was growing up. I have never heard them say "I love you" to anyone. They showed some physical affection with hugs and kisses when we were children, but we stopped getting that once we hit our early teens (perhaps even earlier). It was a household of tough love and cold love. My husband is often amazed at how affectionate I am, both physically and with words, given the manner in which I was raised. Perhaps I've turned out this way because I lacked it so much from my parents when I was a growing up.

I think it's difficult to keep the love going when two people don't speak the same love language. I'm glad you posted this because I was beginning to feel like I was a needy, whiny bitch. It turns out I just speak a different language from J.

Fri May 18, 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

I am definitely an action person as well. I want to do something. Finally though, I believe it is a pattern of behavior. Being kind, considerate and respectful on a consistent basis is enough for me. None of those other categories communicate to me if it isn't backgrounded by consistency.



Sat May 19, 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Sunny Delight said...

Expressing love in the best language for each individual we love can be difficult at times, perhaps it is best to be able to demonstrate our love in as many of the languages as we can.......

I have always wished to be multilingual......since I seem to have that 'lazy' American ear in regard to foreign languages.....perhaps being multi-lingual in love is better.....something to find out.

Tave myliu

Sat May 19, 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Affirmation is definately me. But unfortunately, my wife is illiterate in that language. I just don't think she gets it. In fact, I think she is the anti-affirmation Christ.

And she is Action. She loves when I do chores, fix the car, clean the cat litter (and they're not even my cats) or anything like that. She gets that from her father who loves to do things for people.

Sat May 19, 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Snowqueen said...

I grew up in a family that were not tactile or demonstrative or good at telling each other that we love each other ( actually sounds like the real British Royal family...tee hee...another Queen of course). Anyway, I love all types of romance languages, but I think being hugged and held speak more for me...maybe they melt my ice and thaw my heart. Mind you, song,poetry. or just wanting to be with me would do it too.

Sat May 19, 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Sally-Sal said...

I've always been somewhat of an oddity. Always will be.

I love with every ounce of my being. For me, love is something that consumes every single thought, every happiness, and always spills over onto everything else in my life.

When I love, usually men think I'm "too good to be true" and end up ruining it in some way or another. Then, after a few shitty relationships, they want me back.

Fortunately, I just keep looking forward :)

One day I'll find that man who can accept the fact that I mean what I say, say what I mean, and that there is no guessing or games involved :)

Sun May 20, 08:32:00 PM  

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