How many times in your life has someone said, “I love you”? In Indian culture and practice, people are shy and find it awkward to use those three words. Does it mean there is no love in our lives and families? How do we express our love? Is there only one way to do it?

When I look at my childhood, my parents took care of me by providing necessities such as nurturing, education, and a few luxuries as well. They worried about my grades, and friends and finding the right person for marriage. Like most Indian parents, mine were intense and involved and I had to cope with little or no time for me or them to stop and say “I love You.” Does it mean my parents did not love me nor I them?

Gary Chapman, an author, and counsellor writes about love and the 5 love languages people use to demonstrate love and to recognize the unique way it is expressed. He explains how people display love in different ways, it can be in one or more of the ways described below. The sooner you discover your love language and that of your loved ones, and can start to express it, the sooner your relationships will grow stronger.

Acts of Service:

Some people can convey their love through acts of service. Serving others brings them joy. They like to do things to make life easier for others. Some of them might help walk your dog, work hard to pay for the car or house, take care of you when you are sick, share parental duties, or make time in their busy schedules to help others. It could be a friend who buys you coffee or helps you meet your deadlines. Love is displayed through these acts of service. If doing acts of service is what expresses your love, this could be your love language.

Physical Touch:

Outward display of affection and love through touch is a means of conveying love. Remember the aunty who hugged and pulled your cheeks or your father who patted you on the head to show appreciation or your lover / spouse who hugs you or your co-worker who gives you a warm handshake or fist bump. These are non-verbal ways of showing they care.  Touch promotes bonding between people and increases trust and empathy. If your main manner of conveying affection is via touch, this could be your love language.

Words of Affirmation:

This love language is verbal. You like to listen to people without judging them and you can respond with understanding and empathy. Those with this love language encourage, appreciate, and validate with their words. You must have received that unexpected call from a friend asking how you are doing. You must have spent hours talking to your mom or friend without feeling you are being judged. Or received a text from your friend complimenting and appreciating your effort. Being able to show you care through words, is the hallmark of this love language.

Quality Time:

Expressing love by committing quality time to a relationship defines this love language.  In this busy world with unending demands and schedules, if you can make time to be with those you care about, that is love. A tired parent at the end of the day spending time with their child or being present for birthdays and any other special days is an expression of love. If you love to plan a holiday or just prefer to spend an afternoon doing nothing with your family/friends, giving uninterrupted attention (dropping that phone) to spend time and building memories to show you care, then this could be your love language.

Gift Giving:

For some giving gifts is an integral part of showing their love. How many times have you given a gift to show you care? Many times, I guess. This is the most common form of affection that is celebrated by our society. When you receive something in kind, it shows that person has thought about you, whether it is a doughnut or a diamond ring, it does not matter. Are you there with others in a time of emergency? If yes, this is a gift of self. Gifting is your love language.

Sadly, during our lives, when we are faced with stress and demanding situations not in our control, we do not notice or appreciate these love languages and many a time even find it annoying, impinging on our privacy or independence. But if we can just recognize it, as someone’s way of showing their love, and just maybe their only way of showing you they care. Would that make a difference?

Come to think of it, how do you personally express love in your life? Whether it is to your parents, partner, spouse, children, or friends. What is it you do? What is your love language?


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