According to Bell Hooks, the author of All About Love, the definition of love is, “-the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” The book then continues to explain that love is not a feeling but yet an action- the ability to act or move in love when you do not feel like loving. After reading All About Love, I began to re-evaluate how I, and this generation, love not only each other but ourselves and I noticed the problems within our society. We truly have not learned how to love properly, because one, the definition of love we have been living by and two, we lack knowledge of what our love language is and how to follow through.
My definition of a love language is defined by the way our spirit both receives and gives love to others. There are said to be 5 different love languages that we all tend to relate: (in no particular order) words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts and acts of service. Each form of love language is unique within itself and ranges between importance for each individual.
For someone whose primary love language is words of affirmation, words are everything. How you speak to this person and the tone that is used is extremely important. Constant verbal reassurance and having the ability to communicate honestly and with respect provide them with the sense of safety that they need. You simply affirming them or complimenting not only their appearance but their ability to work, brings them great satisfaction.
For someone whose primary love language is physical touch, what brings them satisfaction should be simple. And no, the answer is not just sex. Holding hands, gently rubbing their back, arm, leg or shoulders, kissing them often, fully embracing them when you hug and even playing with their hair can be ways to show them you love them. If you’d like to participate in more intimate ways of showing you love them, initiate sex, take a shower together, slow dance to your favorite songs, or spend time cuddling or embracing one another.
For someone whose love language is quality time, how you spend the time you have with this person is important, not necessarily the amount of time given. For example, while eating out, consider putting all distractions aside and giving them your full attention. Spend time doing activities that you both enjoy or have never done before. Create positive memories with this person, whether this be cooking together, building a blanket fort to watch a movie or starting a new hobby together.
For someone whose love language is acts of service, showing this person you love them by your ability to act/move is how they recognize love. Helping this person with their daily chores, completing a task for them that they haven’t had the time to complete, cooking or ordering them a meal because they’ve been too busy to, or simply asking “What can I help you with?” can bring them much more peace than you’d expect. *Disclaimer: Acts of service do not make you a simp or weak in any way, shape or form. Loving through serving others can be one of the most profound ways of showing love.
And for someone whose love language is receiving gifts, gifting meaningful gifts is the key to their heart. Purchasing flowers just because, buying an item that reminded you of them while you were away, sending surprise packages, or giving them something that they couldn’t give to themselves are ways to show them that you care about them.
Identifying and acknowledging your own love language is one of the first steps to loving yourself. Be open with your family, friends, partners and even yourself when explaining or participating in activities that make you feel loved. Identifying and putting forth effort into loving others is the next step. We cannot continue to go about life with the belief that you can love everyone the way you receive love. Remember, the truest definition of love is, “-the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” If you are wanting to truly love someone or truly love yourself, identify your love language(s) and then act/move in love.