During your recovery journey, you will have to navigate many types of relationships that will test your emotional management skills. Love languages can be used as a tool for understanding your relationships with loved ones. There is no one-size fits all advice that anybody can give to help you strengthen or rebuild a relationship. It is human to desire love, but everyone’s perception of love differs. When your desire for love feels fulfilled, it can positively affect your mental and physical health.
What Are Love Languages?
Gary Chapman describes the concept of love languages in his 1992 book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The concept of love languages can be used as a guide in navigating different types of relationships during your recovery. In his book, Chapman includes five types of love languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
While the book explores love languages in romantic relationships, the same principles can be applied to platonic ones. Discussing love languages with friends and family will benefit both you and your loved ones. It will allow you to create an open dialogue of communication, build trust, and give you a better understanding of your relationship wants and needs.
Words of Affirmation
Praise, compliments, and verbal acknowledgment of appreciation are considered words of affirmation. If this is your love language, you will feel the most loved when someone verbally expresses their feelings. This might take the form of praise, such as a loved one expressing amazement for your individual, personal, or career-oriented accomplishments. It could also take the form of a loved one giving you compliments on your personality, appearance, or skills. Words of affirmation can also take the form of verbal acknowledgment of appreciation, such as your loved ones verbalizing their thankfulness for something you did or said, or for just being you.
People covet their time because it is limited and invaluable. That’s what makes spending quality time with someone special. If your love language is quality time, you feel the most loved when someone shows up for you. You will feel the most loved when your friends or family members take a break from their busy schedules to listen to your stories or give you advice on a crisis. Quality time with a person is about being present and focused. It’s about the undivided attention of a loved one that is devoted to you for a period of time.
If receiving gifts is your love language, you probably view gift-giving as an art. It’s not just about someone else paying for something you want. Often, it’s about thoughtfulness. Receiving gifts gives you insight into what a person thinks of you. If a loved one gives you caramel chocolate, then you know at some point that person saw caramel chocolate and was reminded of you. The best gifts are ones that are homemade, personalized, or specific to your interests.
Acts of Service
When you feel overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing a loved one can do is ease some of your burdens. This could mean helping you prepare for an interview, cooking you dinner, or changing the flat tire on your car. If your love language is acts of service, you feel the most loved when someone shows their love rather than verbally expressing it.
An act of service doesn’t have to be something that helps lighten your load. It can be a friend deciding to fix up an old guitar you forgot you had or surprising you by gathering close friends for your birthday. Acts of service can be big or small, but they are done with the intent of making your day a little brighter and you a little happier.
If physical touch is your love language, then you feel the most loved when someone is holding your hand, hugging you, or affectionately rubbing your back. This type of love language may seem more applicable to romantic relationships, but many platonic relationships also involve physical touch. For instance, you might crave a loved one’s touch when you are upset. This could give you a sense of safety because you can feel that your loved one is physically there for you. You can feel that you are not alone.
Combinations of Love Languages
Most people don’t have a singular love language but will have a preference for some love languages over others. This preference will vary in intensity from person to person. You might feel discomfort with some love languages and a sense of emptiness without others. For instance, if you strongly value word affirmation, then it might not be enough for a person to knit you a sweater or build you a bookcase in an expression of love. You may be able to acknowledge that the person is expressing love toward you, but you won’t feel loved until the person says the words out loud.
On the other hand, you may be the type of person who hates being touched. A loved one may think they are expressing love and comfort by hugging you, but instead are causing you discomfort.
Some people may be unable to perform certain love languages for various reasons. For instance, if you hate giving gifts but your loved one’s love language is gift-giving. This might not be a love language you are comfortable with but you may be able to find common ground in another love language or by meeting the person halfway. Love languages are important to discuss because there are many variations in which a person may prefer to experience love.
Understanding the people in your life’s love languages can help you better navigate your relationships during your recovery. Discussing love languages with friends and family will help you to better understand their needs. Restoration Recovery Center knows that all of its clients have unique wants, needs, and perceptions of love. We offer family therapy to help clients and family members clarify their thoughts, emotions, and love languages to better communicate with one another. We know that you are a complex person who needs a treatment program that is tailored to your unique needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, please call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925 for help.