“In my mind I know that he loves me,” she said, “but there’s a huge disconnect between what my intellect knows is true and what my heart believes.”
How can a person know they are loved with their mind and yet not know it with their heart? Because love is something that, as humans, we must experience no only with the intellect – but with the emotions.
It is one thing to know that we are loved with our intellect, but when our emotions cannot validate this truth through the experiences that tell us that we are truly loved there is a conflict that we have trouble resolving.
So, why the huge gap between what the intellect needs and what the emotions need? Gary Chapman explains this phenomenon in several of his many books and calls it our emotional “Love Languages”. He explains that each person speaks and perceives love in a different manner – through a different specific language. The primary language in which a person perceives love is the language that will cause them to feel emotionally connected to other individuals – and even to God.
When individuals are not recipients of the love language they are expecting they do not feel emotionally connected and are not assured with a confirmation and belief that they are truly loved – therefore, the conflict comes between their emotions and their intellect.
The 5 Love Languages Chapman describes in his several writings are:
- Words of Affirmation – Words of affirmation include specific words of encouragement or praise for accomplishment and for effort. It includes saying thank you. Words of affirmation can be given one on one, in front of someone the person views as important, or publicly. This appreciation language focuses on the words being said to the person receiving the words of affirmation and it is about their contributions or character traits that are valuable and appreciated.
- Quality Time – Quality time includes focused attention and quality conversation. A person who speaks this language feels valued when someone shows a genuine interest in them. This language focuses on hearing the person receiving the quality time and about participating focused conversations with them. Quality time also includes a sharing of life together in focused activities.
- Acts of Service – Acts of service is characterized by helping with tasks that need to be completed. Some key things to remember with acts of service are: 1) Get your own work finished before offering to help someone with theirs, 2) Ask before helping, 3) Make sure to do it their way if you are going to help, 4) Finish what you commit to do and make it clear what you can commit to finish.
- Receiving Gifts – Receiving gifts is the vehicle for some individuals that sends the message that says, “You are valuable to me and I thought about you when you weren’t with me because I love you.” The dollar value of the gift is not what is significant but the emotional thought about the person that drove the gift to be given. For people who speak this language, the gift becomes tangible evidence that they are valued. It is a constant reminder that they are loved.
- Physical Touch – For some people this is the language that speaks the loudest to them that they are truly valued and appreciated. This physical closeness could vary depending on the relationship and should always be tailored to what is acceptable and desired by the recipient. Hugs, handshakes, high-fives, wrestling on the floor, holding hands, etc.,
Everyone perceives love primarily through one of these love languages and often a secondary language. Learning and understanding how these languages impact us personally and the individuals in our lives can have a tremendous positive influence on our relationships.
Learn more about this topic in Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages.