Loving People in Their Language

Proper communication is key.

By rawpixel on Unsplash

We can love someone with our hearts, minds and all that is within us — and still not love them with our actions. Not in a way that is received by them as love, at least. We can exhaust ourselves with grand gestures and bold proclamations all we want. Our efforts will remain futile if they are not communicated in the manner that resonates best with the object of our affection.

This can sometimes lead to resentment. Often, in situations where someone feels like they’ve done so much to show another person love and it has gone unrecognized, it’s because those acts aren’t translating as intended. The person on the receiving end can be appreciative of it all and still not attach any meaning. For instance, sex for some is directly correlated with love and adoration — while others view it as a purely physical act.

There’s loving someone, and then there is loving someone effectively. The latter is an impossible task if we don’t understand how a person needs to be loved. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the letter if it’s written in Japanese and the person it’s given to is an English speaker. It holds no more value than if it were a blank piece of paper. This goes for every type of love, friendly, romantic, familial and otherwise.

The problem is, we don’t always take the time to learn one another. We love people the way that we want to love them, or according to what we believe is love. We do for them things that we’d like done for us, and then are confused, frustrated and even offended on occasion when our actions don’t render the desired results. This can lead to us labeling others ungrateful or difficult when not offered the response we feel we’ve earned.

There is no shame in this. It’s natural to communicate in our own love language. That’s really all we know until someone shows us different. We just have to be able to accept that despite our best intentions, we may not be going about things in the most effective method. We have to be open to shattering our idea of how love is shown in favor of another’s.

Ego rejects being guided, and told by someone the way that they need to be loved. Ego takes it personally, as a slight or being viewed as not good enough. In actuality, we should be thankful when someone that we truly love tries to show us how to love them. It indicates that they care and we mean something to them. We mean so much to them that they want us to love them well, rather than explore having their needs met elsewhere. It shows that they want the relationship to work. As does our laying the ego aside in order to invest the time and sincere effort necessary to learn.

How do you learn a person’s love language? Well, there are a series of excellent books on the subject titled, The Five Love Languages. You can even skip the books and have someone take the test at 5lovelanguages.com. Take the test yourself. We all deserve to be loved in our language. It’s important to learn our own so that we can better understand ourselves, and communicate to others the way that we need to be loved as well.

If the books aren’t read and the quiz isn’t taken, there are other ways to learn a person’s love language. You can simply ask. Or just pay attention. Observe and listen with intent. Do they light up more when you bring home gifts or when you cook their favorite food? If we watch someone carefully enough, they’ll tell us everything we need to know.

It won’t always be easy. For a person who is uncomfortable with affection, it may be a bit of a challenge to communicate love to someone when physical touch is their language. But if the relationship means enough to us, at least we know, and can learn.

This way, we aren’t wasting our time filling someone’s glass with wine when they’d rather have water.