It has been said that love not shown is love not known. Maybe you grew up in a culture or household where demonstrations of love were rare and considered 'schmaltzy' or just plain unnecessary. If you did then you were likely to have felt unsure about whether you were really loved. Perhaps your family members were demonstrative in showing love but they just didn't speak 'your language' often enough.
Imagine a man who showed love to is wife by cleaning and getting dinner ready each night for her coming home from work. It was his way of showing her he valued and cared for her. Sadly she never 'heard' his love and after many years complained saying 'You never have any time for me. You are always busy cleaning or cooking and never just sit down with me and take a half hour to chat and let me share my heart'. He can't believe his ears and says 'You mean I don't have to do all this stuff for you any more? All I have to do is sit with you and give you half an hour of my undivided attention and chat and let you talk?' He chooses to do this and within few weeks his wife is happier and feels a much stronger connection with her husband.
You too may have yearned to 'hear' love in a way that was rarely spoken in your home and that also may have left you feeling unsure about how loved you were.
I hope you can see that it is really important to show love or affirmation and do it in a way that is really 'heard' by the ones to whom you are trying to 'speak'! For a quick overview of the five love languages, read my previous blog Speaking the Languages of Love.
There are three ways that will help you identify the 'languages' of your friends and family:
1. Study their ways of behaving.
Do they buy you little gifts or treats or are they always wanting to spend time with you by suggesting coffee dates or outings? Do they touch or hug often or are they more verbal in telling you something encouraging? Are they always doing things for you or offering to run errands etc.? There are LOADS of clues there as people do tend to speak they language they actually long to hear.
Say something like 'What can I do or say right now that would help you feel more affirmed or loved?' This may seem like a pretty up-front or even strange kind of question to the hearer, but if you preface it with telling them you really want to be able to improve and strengthen your relationship, then it will give it context!
3. Try them all.
Just try using a combination of all the languages and over a week or two you should begin to see which ones have the best effect. Then you can maybe increase using these and lessen the use of the others. By this time your friend/child/partner is going to be really feeling the love and all the effort you have put in is going to feel so worth it!
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, why not give this 'love languages' thing a go? Your friends and family with thank you for it!