Featuring guest blogger: Samantha Avanzino
The first thought when reading "love languages" may be “oh, what’s that?” or “oh dear, feelings (ugh).” Whatever your reaction, I’m here to say they can be a big key in improving your relationships. Relationships amongst coworkers, friends and partners. Life is full of relationships and connecting with others so if you could get a little better at that, wouldn’t you want to give it a try?
I was first introduced to Love Languages when I was a teenager as a concept I heard my mom talk about but didn’t get into much detail. It wasn’t until it was utilized at a training for work that I started to look further into it and realize the power of this amazingly simple concept: sharing your expectations of how you can be appreciated instead of waiting for everyone to guess or assuming they already know.
In the current landscape of self-care articles on equal pay, taking time for yourself, and learning to say “no” I am taking it back to the basics of simply practicing the art of asking for what you need. It is a concept I will be learning for the rest of my life but by doing so it has taught me to surround myself with people that are eager to respond well to when I ask for something and in turn I’m reducing my burnout.
I’ve spent my life with this myth in my head of, “If they love me, they’ll know how I like to be loved.” Part of that is my personality of being empathetic and in turn I am good at being attuned to others’ feelings/needs. I had to realize that is not how everyone else feels and I’m robbing myself of relational intimacy if I don’t ever express what I need out of a relationship. This is a battle I continue to climb, but I am rewarded and feel encouraged when I stick up for myself and share what I need.
A great way of where this shows up is in Love Languages. For a quick reference as to what the Five Love Languages are, check out this website (and take the quick quiz to find our your own!). It isn’t so much of a personality test as it is a test to help you identify how you give and share love.
My primary love languages are Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. Physical Touch only plays out for me in close relationships and my romantic partner. I am not the girl that walks up strangers giving out free hugs. So people are surprised when they find out that is my top Love Language. I would say that is my top language for three people: my boyfriend, my mom, and my brother. Not to say I don’t appreciate an awesome hug from others, but as far as a need it is usually those people that fill that need for me.
My second love language is Words of Affirmation and this realllllly plays out for me with thoughtful notes. I cherish any handwritten note especially when it is specific feedback or thoughts on why I am appreciated. I also love reciprocating that by sending note. Snail mail is my thing.
I’m fortunate to be in a relationship where we “speak” similar love languages. I feel cared for when I get a note from my boyfriend and he feels the same when I reciprocate. But here’s the thing – if he didn’t feel respected/appreciated/loved by notes but instead by something else (quality time, gifts, etc.) then I need to speak to him in a language he understands and show love in other ways. We can get caught in a trap of assuming the way we like to receive love is the same way we should give love. You may think if you appreciate something, that everyone else will too. While they may be grateful, it may not speak to them as greatly as something that aligns with their Love Language. This is why I think it is most helpful in relationships for both parties to identify their love language. Talk about how you feel most appreciated.
If your friend cares most about quality time and your write her a note saying why you think she is a wonderful friend, but you’re always on your phone when you’re hanging out or cancel on plans often that note isn’t going to be as helpful as spending time with her that you give her undivided attention. It is important to appreciate someone in the language that speaks to them, not what is your preferred language.
It takes time to figure out how you can best give and receive love and appreciation. At the end of the day Love Languages won’t fix your relationship but it gives you the language and tools to talk about your needs and desires. Before having that language, I may have felt weird asking for what I need to feel loved but now that I have something to point to in order to explain myself, it has gotten a lot easier. It can be useful in all kinds of relationships, but I’ve found that at work it becomes more about “appreciation language” than “love language.”
You may not get the chance to hand the quiz to every person you interact with, and woah that may be awkward, but as you learn more about the assessment you can start to notice people’s preferences and “speak” to them in their language when you’re trying to show affection or appreciation. You’ll learn what you want and need out of a relationship and you’ll realize you can adapt how you share appreciation to better care for those around you. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved and cared for and this is a way we can all go about making the world a happier, more loved place.
Samantha Avanzino is a frugal foodie and aspiring minimalist who loves a good dose of self-care. Her favorite foods are anything served for brunch and chocolate! Her top love languages are: words of affirmation and touch. She loves whipping up a new dish with whatever is in the fridge and loves having friends over for dinner because she believes community is built around the table. She is passionate about fighting hunger and helping bring others along in that fight. She’s loves to read self-help books about leadership, relationships, and life.