It’s the holiday season at long last – that festive and uplifting time of year when gifts are given, carols are sung and a certain spirit is in the air. For many people, these weeks provide opportunities to spend time with loved ones and show them just how much we care. While holidays such as Valentine’s Day are typically associated with love, I think that this time of year in particular gives us the chance to show love to everyone in our lives, whether they’re a relative, friend or significant other.
As far as love goes, I’m excited to put a book I read over the summer into practice this holiday season. Dr. Gary Chapman’s "A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages" is based on his famous "The 5 Love Languages" for adults, and it really changed my perspective on love and how we show it. Chapman believes that we as humans express and respond to love in five different ways: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch and acts of service. Every person has a primary “love language” that not only describes the way he or she shows their love for others, but also how they feel most loved by those around them.
My primary love language is completely and undoubtedly words of affirmation. I’m the type of person that writes lengthy birthday cards, compliments others whenever I can and texts my friends inspirational quotes when they’re having a rough day. Simply put, when I love people, I tell them. Likewise, encouraging words are also what resonate most with me and make me feel loved by other people. Whenever someone praises my piano playing, sends me an encouraging text or simply says “I love you, Emma,” I practically glow inside and my heart feels full.
That being said, not everyone has the same primary love language that I do. One of my younger sisters, for example, expresses love through physical touch. She tends to spontaneously hug people, rest her head on someone’s shoulder and give high fives as a form of encouragement. Before learning about the five love languages, I was honestly a little weirded out by this – what was the reasoning behind these seemingly random hugs and hand holds? Now I understand that this is simply her way of showing love and receiving it. Physical touch is as meaningful to her as affirming words are to me. Even though I may not always be down for a long embrace, I’ve learned that she may need one to feel loved by me, and I’ve been working on “speaking” her love language in a way that will mean the most to her.
So during this special time of year when we have so many opportunities to show people we love them, I encourage you to pay attention to the love languages of those around you. Does your mom deeply appreciate when you offer to help fold the laundry or serve her in some other way? Does your brother seem especially touched when you purchase a thoughtful gift for him on his birthday? Does your best friend get the most out of deep conversations and quality time spent with you?
Once you have an idea of what makes the people in your life feel most loved, try to incorporate words and actions into your interactions that will resonate most with them. It might be a bit uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re not familiar with showing love outside of your primary love language. But I guarantee it will lead to more meaningful relationships with everyone you care about. And who knows? They just might start speaking your love language, too.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano, and spending time with her family and friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.