Published February 9, 2018

Love in its Many Forms

Photos by Nautical Studios

And suddenly, February is upon us. Through bitter cold and many layers of outerwear, a certain warmth is now present – one that was not with us in January. To some, this is a feeling of love and excitement. To others, this is merely the anticipation of spring.

Regardless of where we stand, there is no escaping the coming holiday. The telltale signs and reminders are abundant – our favourite coffee shop's playlist has changed, jewelry advertisements have replaced car commercials, and chocolates are now at the forefront of the local pharmacies and grocery stores. The constant reminder of the upcoming holiday can be stressful, however. All of the anticipation and pressure surrounding planning and gift-giving can be overwhelming, and very distracting from the point of the holiday: to relax with and appreciate those we love.

Of course, some of us do enjoy the season. Some of us eagerly count the days until the fourteenth and delight in planning the perfect evening for our date – and oftentimes, these people are the partners of those less inclined toward rose petals and Champagne. This leads us to wonder: why is this the case? How can a couple be so different?

The answer is simple, really: everyone expresses love in a different way. In 2004, an anthropologist by the name of Gary Chapman authored a book on the idea of love languages. In it, he introduces the concept of five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, giving gifts, and acts of service. While most people appreciate all of these gestures to some extent, people generally favour one over the others.

Simple, right? Well, yes and no. When we add another person into the equation, things begin to get complicated. More often than not, we end up in relationships with people who express love in different ways than we do. When this is the case, it becomes very easy to miss gestures of affection, and consequently neglected in the relationship – all because we don’t recognize the effort our other halves are putting in for us.

We are divided in our feelings toward Valentine's Day because we all speak different languages of love. We can change this, however. The first step is easy: take this quiz to find out what your love language is, and have your partner do the same. After discussing your results, it should become clear why certain points of miscommunication occur. Moving forward, make sure to keep your partner’s love language in mind when celebrating birthdays, accomplishments, and everyday wins. To take some of the stress off planning the immediate holiday, I’ve compiled a list of Valentine’s Day gift suggestions according to love language. Head here to check it out.

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