Tell me that my new necklace makes the gold flecks in my eyes shimmer in the moonlight, then surprise me by fixing my leaky faucet, and I'll be yours forever.
See, I took this quiz based on a book called “The 5 Love Languages,” and the results were spot on.
According to the book, people communicate emotionally — or express love and affection — in different ways. The book focuses on romantic relationships, but I think it can apply to friendships and family relationships as well.
Turns out there often is a disconnect or flat-out discord when one person in a relationship expresses love or affection in a certain way, and the person on the receiving end doesn’t appreciate that style of communication.
The five languages are pretty self-explanatory: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. The quiz narrowed it down to two for me: a primary and secondary.
My primary love language is “words of affirmation.” Being a writer and all, the fact that words are my chief means of expressing affection makes total sense. I also have a strong need to be on the receiving end of kind words from friends and family. What I'm saying is, flattery will get you EVERYWHERE.
Here’s what the quiz noted about this particular love language: “Unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ is important, but hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging and positive words are truly life-giving.”
I literally get the warm fuzzies when someone says something nice to me, or about me, in nearly any context. On the flip side, if I go to the trouble of putting on a dress and curling my hair but no one notices, I deflate like a punctured tire.
I need you to tell me how you feel about me, in detail. If you like how I look, what I said, what I did, who I am … I need you to SAY IT. To me, words take away any doubts about where I stand with you. Direct, clear communication is essential. (Sonnets, however, are optional.)
I do have to admit that I’ve been forced to get over the need for verbal affirmation when it comes to my profession, because I’ve found that most clients and editors give feedback only when they are not happy. Fortunately, those occasions are few and far between, so I mostly get dead air. Yep, if they love my work, I hear nary a peep.
Since I don’t get a ton of verbal pats on the back in that arena, repeat business from current clients, as well as new business I’ve landed from referrals, have to serve as my validation and affirmation. Accepting that has been hard for someone who needs to hear the words, “Good job!” from time to time. But somehow I persevere. *SIGH* Ha!
My secondary love language is “acts of service,” of which the quiz has this to say: “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 wants 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. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.”
The way I serve others most often is by feeding them. I love to cook, and nothing thrills me more that making lots of bellies happy. I also try to be available to my friends when they need emotional support, or help moving furniture. (Hey, I’m a hell of a lot sturdier than I look, man.)
Quiz results aside, I think “words” and “acts” hold equal weight when it comes to how I both project outgoing love and interpret incoming affection.
Up until the last tumultuous year of my marriage, my ex-husband was great about using his words to give me compliments and tell me how much he appreciated me. But he sucked so bad when it came to acts of service that it almost cancelled out his encouraging words.
Laziness, broken commitments and making more work for me? Yeah, that. It still makes my teeth hurt to think about all the frustration that shit brought on.
Lately, I’ve been ruminating on the criteria for the other love languages as they do (or do not) apply to some of my good friends and immediate family. Differences abound.
For instance, the people in my life who show they care through gift-giving are alien to me. I personally suck at it and prefer to give cash.
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t say no to flowers or a Target gift card on my birthday (it’s July 31, by the way), but I would rather you simply commemorate the occasion with a “Happy Birthday” text or phone call, assure me that I don’t look a day over 29 or just go paint my garage in lieu of a be-ribboned set of steak knives. Seriously.
Gifts must be my BFF’s primary language because she is very effective at it. If we are out together in August and I see something in a store window, it will sure enough end up as my gift from her for Christmas. She puts a lot of care and thought into the gift itself, as well as the ornate packaging. It’s really sweet. Somewhat lost on me, but sweet.
Gifts are not the only way she shows how much she loves me, however. She is also generous with verbal praise, service and spending quality time with me. If the ONLY way she showed affection was through gifts, we probably wouldn’t get along nearly as well as we do.
I’ve got one male friend – and it is a complicated relationship for a number of reasons; he knows who he is – who just DOES NOT express his feelings through words. At least, not in the words I need to hear. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to have a relationship with a brick wall, and it’s very frustrating. But I’m sure I am just as frustrating to him for the opposite reason. (If he is reading this, he is laughing and nodding right now.)
Anyhoo, he sent me a lovely gift via UPS not too long ago. It came out of nowhere, after very little communication of any sort for months. After I got over the shock and wondered why in the hell he hadn’t just picked up the phone, I realized that this was his way of showing he cares. It took me a minute, but I finally got my brain around the notion of simple acceptance and appreciation. Again, lost on me, but sweet as hell.
The lesson, of course, is not everyone shows they care in the same way I do. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong … yada, yada, yada. Logically I know this, but logic doesn’t take away my need for others to at least make an effort to speak my language every now and again.
So take note, my random gift-giving friend — and anyone else in my life who speaks a foreign emotional tongue — you could save a lot of money by just leaving me a comment about my blog, telling my hair looks great, or helping me haul a load of mulch. For realz.
And hey, you never know… I might even reciprocate by learning your dialect as well.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.