Friday, April 1, 2011

The Language of Love

A few weeks ago Heather and I decided to read "The 5 Love Languages" by Garry Chapman.  We were both familiar with the material but had never actually read the book or took the test.  For those of you who have never heard of this (if there is anyone out there that applies to) the basic premise is that we all have 5 basic ways to give and receive love.  Really it extends beyond "love" to keeping a healthy emotional balance.  The 5 languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service.  (If you're really interested you can take the test online here:  I don't get any kickbacks, honestly.

I've always felt pretty positive physical touch was my primary love language, as I tend to be fairly touchy-feely, and have always been that way.  I try to keep in mind that not everyone appreciates hugs as I do.  You can tell whether someone is a physical touch person by the way they give a hug.  You have everything from the bear hugger (definitely physical touch) to the tipping teapot (bending forward at the waist to minimize contact below the shoulders - definitely not physical touch).

Gary also talks about how most folks are bilingual - we have a primary and secondary love language.  This is good because it dramatically increases the odds of getting your emotional tank filled.  When I took the test my primary language edged out physical touch by 1 point, and was quality time.  I was a bit surprised but not too much, as if I had to choose between spending a day hanging out with friends doing nothing, or doing any of the activities I love such as hiking or skiing but had to do them by myself, I would choose the former. 

And this coming from a guy who's fairly hermity.  Doing things by myself doesn't really bother me.  In fact, I daily eat lunch by myself at the cafeteria in what I privately call "loser row", because it's a row of tables for two inhabited by loners like myself unable to master the basic skills of being interesting enough for someone to want to share a meal with.  But having done this since junior high it didn't take long to adjust to reacquiring the habit.  So I enjoy my meal and conversation with myself in my head.  I do know enough to not talk out loud.  That would just be weird. 

The big surprise came in the fact that my numbers two and three were tied.  Garry didn't mention anything about being trilingual.  Not even in an appendix.  And I never would have thought that words of affirmation were my thing.  My dry sense of humor often comes across in the opposite polarity.  And yet as I contemplated this a light came on as to why biting remarks really hit me harder than I try to let on, and a few kind words can really make my day.

So what is the take home lesson besides the fact that my social life is less refined than Charlie Sheen's sense of reality?  Perhaps don't be too certain you know yourself.  Read a good book if you want to improve your self awareness.  And eat your vegetables.  That's always a good take home lesson.