How do you receive and show love to those around you? In pursuing self-awareness, a book I commonly reference in my work as a therapist is Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.
The way I have adapted this outlook into my practice as a therapist and in my life as a person is knowing what love languages help me feel connected to people and that I excel at giving. I mention both of these ideas because the languages we feel connected with through others isn’t always the way we show love and care well to others. The link above can lead you to take a quiz on which is your love language(s). I think that people operate in varying degrees to all five and excel in one or two languages. As for what they are, I’ll list them here. If you can’t tell which is your love language(s), ask a friend/family member for insight:
Physical touch. This love language emphasizes the notion that a person feels more connected to others through touch such as high-fives, hugs, handshakes, and other forms of physical affection. If the first thing you do when you see someone you’re close to is to offer a fist bump or novelty handshake, this might be a primary way you experience the world.
Acts of service. Those who value acts of service deeply appreciate when people in their lives help with a task or willingly offer themselves to help in a situation. People in our lives that ask, “Can I help with that?” might be people to gravitate to this self-expression.
Quality time. People in our lives who feel most seen by spending time with them are likely people who value quality time. If that person invites you to a show, movie, a phone call, or social activity, then it’s likely quality time is important to them.
Words of affirmation. Praise and affirmation through words, whether written or spoken, encapsulate people who value this love language. People who feel celebrated in this language thrive in validation that in words acknowledges their contributions and efforts.
Gifts. Those who experience appreciation in gifts are people who know exactly what to get you, have online wishlists and drop hints of things they deeply enjoy and want when with you. The gift givers and receivers in our lives feel heard and seen when something they ask for is confirmed through being provided.
In closing, I’ll leave you with the question that started this post: How do you receive and show love to those around you? Do any of the five love languages speak to you?
Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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