“A lot of ways to love you
Teach me through your eyes
What is needed for you?
Needed in your life”- Kehlani
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about love languages and how they relate not only romantically, but also in every relationship. I have found that people want to love you in the way that is most comfortable to them. It makes sense overall but if you want real connection with someone, you have to learn their love language. When I think of my closest relationships, they are the ones where there are mutual respect and appreciation and an allowance of letting the other be exactly who they are— seen and heard. There is no sparing of honesty if necessary to help push the other towards growth. In addition, there has to be authenticity. There is freedom within the relationship. How can we learn to love others the way they need love instead of how we want to love them? As explained by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts), — the 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
I recently became frustrated with a loved one because it felt as if the person went MIA (missing in action). I was bothered by the absence of communication. However, once I removed my lack of understanding and replaced it with empathy— I immediately felt compassion and wanted to give that person the room that they needed to sort through their stuff. I simply sent a text that read, “Hope all is well. Miss you. Love you.” I still wanted to know what was going on but I had to allow the person to move and pick up the phone in their time. It was better to meet the chosen isolation with warmth and grace instead of thinking of what it was that I needed from them at the time. Love in its purest form is patient and selfless.
My train rides commuting to and from work have become exercises in human exploration for me in many ways. Whether it is my own personal reflection or being met with another’s more public sharing. A few weeks ago on the C train, a homeless man stood in front of a packed car and poured out his soul. He spoke about feeling judged and feeling oppressed by people’s eyes. He said you have to stop looking down on people who you see as less than you, and that he is just looking for respect and opportunity but he has depression and has fallen on hard times. He then went on to say, “I have abilities that you can’t imagine.” What does this have to do with the 5 Love Languages you ask? It has everything to do with it. First, I recognized that in his vulnerability he yearned to be seen and heard for who he knows himself to be. He knows that he is valuable and worthy yet he feels that his appearance devalues his worth in the eyes of the outside world. Underneath the layers of how we want to be loved is the need to be validated. There exists the need to be seen as worthy, to be loved in the way in which we desire… this is universal. It starts with self-love and extends outward. I don’t recommend seeking validation from everyone, (see my blog post from June) but as humans, we need to feel validated and appreciated in healthy ways. Love is kind.
As the holidays approach, this is important to take into consideration. We are all struggling with something in one way or another. Yes, ‘tis the season for joy and celebration yet it can also be extremely emotional for some. There are so many expectations and rules when it comes to this time of year. We are all expected to be happy, smiling, and laughing on loop. I feel it is important to give each other the space, kindness, and love that we all need even if it forces us out of our “ I will love you like this!” comfort zones. Take the time to ask what is needed, don’t assume. Love the way that person needs to be loved. It can make all the difference in intimacy and connection in all of our relationships. Some people need space to take in the moment and process. Others prefer to surround themselves with people and bounce from house to house, spreading holiday cheer. Then there are those who fall somewhere in the middle depending on their mood. Allow your loved ones whatever it is that they need. That is love. That is showing that you care, honor their individuality, and respect who they are. We must compromise in some instances— that could be essential to the health of the relationship and family dynamic. Now, I want to be clear: within compromise, I don’t believe that we must give up our personal truths in the process. Understanding and valuing our individual needs does not equate selfishness. My suggestion, look at the entire picture and act in love and with sincere empathy.
There is so much talk of the world needing more kindness and love. Where do we start? Easy answer: where we can and that is within ourselves, at home and in our community. It is giving and taking, — honoring our wholeness as well as that of others. I recommend allowing some time to explore the ideas around love language and see how it relates to you and your relationships.
So, while we prepare our homes for the holidays with beautiful lights and mulled cider scented candles, ready our wonderful meals on the move with grocery lists in hand and browse the aisles looking for the perfect cabernet or malbec, let’s also open our hearts to truly see the needs and wants of others as well.
“Love is reaching out to try to get to the other person.” –Gary Chapman
Here’s to real connection! Cheers!
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet, mother, wife, activist and Ohio native, based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others.
She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter, and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibility of choosing “more”.