Love is a canvas pattern furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination
Love, as you probably know, is one of the most wonderful feelings. Some people claim there are only two feelings - love and fear - and every good thing in life is a form of love and all the bad things are forms of fear. A stronger version of this only recognizes one feeling - love - and all the rest is lack of love.
Whether you define love as the ultimate feeling or just an important one, there is no doubt that being loved and loving can make us the happiest ever.
In our communication with people, it is important to remember we are emotional being doing everything we can, positive or negative, to get some desired emotion. Love is an important part of our communication and it is sad so many people in the world do not feel they are loved.
In one of my courses, during the session about love, a 60-year-old woman told the group that her parents had never loved her. Imagine this for second - living for 60 years and thinking your parents do not love you! Later on, after I introduced what you are about to read, she realized her definition of love had been limited and her parents loved her dearly and we all cried together (a lot - can you imagine her relief?).
If you want to have lots of love in your life, make sure you have a broad definition of love. Making a list of 100 ways to say "I love you" will have two effects - you will be able to express more love for the people you love and you will be able to recognize when someone else expresses their love for you. There is nothing worse than growing up feeling you are not loved only because you cannot see it.
The five love languages
Gary Chapman contributed a lot to the definition of love when he published his book "The Five Love Languages". In this book, he explored the meaning of love and the ways in which people express and receive love. In other words, how people communicate love to each other. What do you know? Many of the conflicts between couples and between parents and kids are the result of having different love "languages".
Although there are many ways to express love, Chapman found that love is expressed in five major ways:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
Our feeling of love is like a tank or a battery. When it is full, we feel happy and can express love. Has it happened to you that you felt as if your batteries are charged and you are ready to conquer the world? On the other hand, has it happened to you that you did not feel loved and you lacked the motivation to do even the simplest things?
"What is love?" is a question each person answers in a different way. Because we different perceptions of the world, some things make us feel more loved than others, as if we rate other people's behavior as "more loving" or "less loving" ("If he brings me flowers, my tank fills up to 90% of its capacity", but "If she comes home late, my love tank drops to 20%").
Many conflicts in relationships happen because the way we express love seems to us like the only way love can be expressed. We give love in the way we would like to receive love. I may give "affirmations" to my partner (mom, dad, sister, one of my kids or a friend), and expect the same in return, but if they who expect and give "quality time", we will both feel we are giving without receiving until our love tanks are empty. With empty love tanks, it is hard to express love in any form. The good news is that unlike spoken languages, which may take years to learn, love languages are simple and easy to learn.
So what are those five love languages?
Words of Affirmation
Some people need to receive your love in words to fill their love tank. For them, saying "I love you" is the ultimate expression of love. In communication about love, we can hear people say "but you know I love you". Well, for the person "speaking" the Affirmation language, knowing is not enough. They must hear it or read it clearly spelled out. To show love to such a person, give them cards with nice words, tell them how wonderful they are, say to them "I love you", "You’re special", "I love it when you …" and praise them.
Some people need you to spend time with them in order to fill their love tank. For them, anything you do together is a sign that you love them. If being together is a challenge for you, but you do it anyway, then you love them even more. If your time is totally devoted to them without the need to share your attention with others, your love is more valuable. Going to a movie, cooking together, reading books with the kids or going on a trip are only some of the examples of what a person "speaking" the Quality Time love language will consider the best love expression.
Some people love to receive gifts. They score the gift they receive in order to charge their batteries accordingly. Every gift makes them happy and even simple things, presented as gifts, will help them fill their tank. These people will use the gifts, admire the wrappings, cherish them and put them on display, while others will enjoy their gifts for a short time and move on to other things. They will also be the people who go shopping as a reward and shop to feel good. To show love to a person "speaking" Gifts, bring flowers, a book, a game, a pen and even a few nicely wrapped colorful pebbles.
Acts of Service
Some people measure your love by what and how much you do for them. The harder the thing you do for them, the more you love them. We are born to enjoy the services of our carers. For a person "speaking" Services, simple services like making the sandwiches in the morning, washing the dishes, taking the garbage out or making dinner can fill the love tank to the brim. When their tank is not full, people "speaking" this love language complain about doing "everything" by themselves and not being appreciated by others for their efforts.
Some people need to be touched more than others do. Every physical touch, from a tap on the shoulder to passionate intimacy, fills their love tank. People "speaking" Physical Touch touch others a lot. To show them love, you can hold hands with them, kiss them, play with their hair, stand behind them and put your hands on their shoulders or massage their feet.
Each of us uses all five languages to some extent, but we generally prefer some expressions of love to others. Bear in mind, no love language is better or right. They are just different.
The best thing you can do is first accept that the people you love have a different definition of love to yours and that they may prefer to be loved in a way that is not easy or natural for you.
The second thing you can do is find out your love language(s). It will be easy for you to understand then why you prefer expressing love or receiving love in that way. If you feel you can, tell the people you love about your preference.
The third thing you can do is find out your loved ones' love languages. Asking is the easiest way. Then, show them your love in the way that fills their tank and watch them flourish.
Kids' Love Languages
Kids learn love from their carers. Because they have different carers - mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles - their love language(s) may be different from their parents'.
Kids' behavior is a reflection of their love tank. It is a good idea for parents to use all 5 love languages to help their kids feel loved by a any kind of expression. When a child's love tank is empty and needs some quick refilling, using the child’s primary love language will fill the tank fastest. Remember, if you do not want your kids to grow up to be 60 and think you never loved them, point out to them various expressions of love, so they learn to recognize them. This way, they will be able to feel loved regardless of how love is shown to them and they will be happy.
How to make the list of 100 ways to say "I love you"
- Make a list of things you like others to say to you
- Add to the list words and phrases you know make someone else happy
- Add ways to deliver your affirmations to the person you love: lunch box note, wallet, SMS, email…
- Choose poems to send or give someone you love
- Pick quotes of love you can say to someone who prefers affirmations as their love language
- Think of things you would like to do together with each of the people you love. Remember, for a Quality Time person, even cooking and having dinner together is an expression of love. You do not have to go very far to be together.
- List things you know others are happy to do together with you. If you are not sure, ask.
- Add hobbies you can share together. The name of the "quality time" game is "together". For a Quality Time person, sharing hobbies fills up the tank quickly.
- List important events in life to attend as an expression of love: performances, award nights, birthday celebrations, graduations…
- Go over your daily life and ask yourself if you could do it together with the person you love as quality time. It is easy. For a Quality Time kid, even cleaning the house is pure joy when it is done in your company.
- Think of gifts you would like to receive. If you are not a gift person, think of your birthdays and what you would ask for on your birthday.
- Play the game "If I had all the money in the world and I had to spend it all on buying gifts for the people I love, what would I do?" It is a nice game and brings up more than just ideas for gifts.
- The good news about a gift person is that the most important thing is not the size or the price of the gift, but the thought of giving it to them. You do not even have to buy anything. Giving something of yours or making something is also a gift. I always say that if you have a gift-loving kid, he will cherish a stone wrapped nicely. All you need to do when you come from work is say "I've brought you a gift" and bring them the nice empty box someone brought to work with cookies (of course, this only works for little kids).
- Think of small things you can give to someone you love. I have a stock of stickers, small toys and candles I can take to a gift-loving friend when I go to visit. I remember that my mum used to pick flowers from our own garden and give them to the person we went to visit. Surprisingly, because they were from our garden, they were accepted as a more valuable gift.
- Art and craft items are very good gifts. For a gift person, the thought is the most important thing, not the price or the size, so add to your list small, easy things you can make yourself to show someone you love them.
Acts of service
- For Service people, everything you do to help is a great expression of love. Think of things you would be happy if others helped you with.
- Imagine you had a genie that could do your work for you. What would you ask him to do? This will give you ideas of things you need help with.
- Think of the people you love and ask yourself what tasks they have to do that you can help them do better, faster or more easily. It is as simple as cooking one night a week if your partner is the usual cook or mowing the lawn if your partner is the one who usually mows it.
- Ask the people you love to tell you 10 things they would like your help with (if you have 10 people you love, you may already have 100 items for your list right there).
- The best act of service to add to your list is to ask "How can I help you?"
- What forms of touch do you like?
- Think of the people you love. How do you think they like you to touch them?
- Add hugs to your list. Did you know you need 12 hugs a day to keep the doctor away? Hugs are very important to our physical and emotional health and we need plenty of them. Add to your list to give and receive 12 hugs a day. Hugging is great, because when you give, you receive.
- Holding hands for a Physical Touch person is a great way to show love. Hold hands, even in public.
- Kissing of course means a lot more to a physical touch person. Kiss a lot!
- People often avoid touch to avoid any sexual connotations, but blowing in your kids' ear or tickling them can be funny and innocent. List body parts you can touch freely and ways you can touch without being misinterpreted.
- Touch does not have to involve the hands. My kids love to sit on us, which gives them a very close and intimate physical contact, while doing something else. Add some ways to touch without using your hands.
Wishing you a huge list of love expressions. Remember to add to your list things you can do to love yourself.
Join me next week for the list of 100 things I like about myself.
Happy listing and lots of LOVE,
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies