Dearest people of Groningen, perhaps the question “how’s your love life going?” is a bit too boring these days. Let’s take it to a whole new level. How much have you been feeling loved lately? Is it a tough question for you to answer? Don’t worry! It is important to remember that despite the word l.o.v.e. being a concept which is sought by all, it is a particularly tricky word. When thinking about love, you might think of a deep affection for your partner, your family, or even yourself.
Despite the many ways you can think of love, we can use each one all the same when thinking about something that has a certain positive connotation. When we feel love towards someone, we tend to express our idea of love according to how we understand it, which is mostly affected by the way we receive love ourselves. Throwing it far back, how we would like to receive love is usually grounded in the way we were taught about love from past experiences or in early life. It is not always the case, however, that it plays out this way. Perhaps, this might also be the reason why sometimes you feel isolated while studying abroad, as the love culture is very different from what you used to get back home. People express their love differently. If you lack the knowledge of your own way of loving –to give and receive– you may come upon as indifferent or inappreciative of other’s love, where in fact, it might all boil down to your own constraints in understanding yourself rather than the slackness of love for you itself.
A week ago, I made a questionnaire asking people’s love language in Groningen, where they were asked about their dominant love language(s). Using the concept of Dr. Gary Chapman’s five love languages –Receiving gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch– we can actually inspect the compatibility of our love language with others, which can ultimately explain your current feeling of “how loved do you feel?” not only romantically, but also friendship and sense of comfortability being in this city. Below are the elaborated results and my analysis of the findings.
Quality Time – 59.2%
If your most dominant love language is Quality Time, congratulations! Many experts argue that “The most compatible love languages are when they are identical.” This love language entails that they feel most appreciated or loved by their presence during times together. It has very little to do with the amount of time you are together or the number of such activities. Rather, quality time is all about how you spend the time that you have together: for instance, active listening and maintaining comforting eye contact with undivided attention. Therefore, many experts have suggested that this love language is most compatible with Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch (if communicated correctly). In other scenarios, it might be particularly challenging if your coping mechanism is isolation/going off the radar or you are just very used to handling things alone. This means that at the time you need love the most, you restrain yourself even further from getting the way of love you understand most by locking yourself up.
Physical Touch – 52.1%
If your love language is physical Touch, it means you prefer physical expressions of love compared to other kind expressions such as verbal compliments or gifts. It is important to keep in mind that physical Touch as a love language is solely about having sexual activities, though it can also be an important variable for a romantic relationship. Physical Touch here is also referred to as a handhold, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, or even a pat on the back. One of the biggest benefits of having Physical Touch as your dominant love language, you can express love with no words and less energy and material to serve others. Physical Touch is one of the easiest ways to be intimate with your partner, as even though it is physical, it can create emotional intimacy.
On the contrary, this might be the most difficult language for others who do not have this love language; therefore, being self-aware of these traits and communicating them to the other person is crucial. People whose love language requires some sort of constant effort, such as receiving gifts and acts of service, might feel less loved by a person with this love language. Additionally, people with words of affirmation might also feel difficult to perceive this love language as physical Touch requires no words to be spoken, while such affirming words might be the only thing they want to hear.
Acts of Service – 28.2%
Do you enjoy sayings such as “actions speak louder than words” or “you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk”? If yes, chances are your dominant love language is Acts of Service. People whose primary love language is Acts of Service will feel adoration through the things you do for them, such as planning something for them, cooking them meals, helping with their tasks or anything that can make their life feel easier. In comparison with other kinds, Acts of Service can be perceived as the most difficult love language to implement because it requires so much time and, often, preparation, especially if they are not used to this nor have this language themselves. This love language is also prone to miscommunication: assume that your preferred language is Acts of Service, but your partner keeps focusing on Quality Time (and vice versa), and then they might feel slighted when you spend time cleaning their car instead of giving them undivided attention. This goes the same way with Words of Affirmation-kind; at the time, they just need the word “you did good,” you might find yourself already busy providing them with the practical solution you think they need. In the same way, people with physical Touch as their primary love language might see your service as something physically distant, as doing things for someone does not always result in physical intimacy.
Words of Affirmation – 28.2%
Actions speak louder than words— unless your love language is words of affirmation. For these people, phrases such as “I’m thankful for…” and “you are very much loved despite…” will go a long way, farther than any kind of things others have done for them. While people might find this type of love language is the easiest to receive and give, people whose words of affirmation are their main love language are also highly sensitive to negative comments; one unpleasant word is like a dagger to their heart. For this reason, these kinds of people are often extremely wounded and hurt by gaslighting, narcissism, and emotional abuse. Interestingly, these sources of pain seem to be very familiar with the kinds of games they play in a pre-relationship –or whatever you call it, situationship?– even friendship with someone who pursues their ‘self-love’ much more than love with others. Unlike any other kind of love language, people who hold words of affirmation as their primary love language tend to crave more for being and finding someone authentic and genuine at an emotional level. Despite it being a special kind, words of affirmation type people tend to be furtherance for love languages like quality time and physical Touch, as it gives emotional depths to their way of communicating love.
Receiving Gifts – 4.2%
Many people assume that receiving gifts is materialistic, but that isn’t necessarily true. Perhaps, many experts say that Receiving Gifts is the most misunderstood love language. For this kind of love language, it’s not the price tag that’s important, but rather the time, thought, and effort that went into choosing or making the gift. Giving gifts with meaning requires attention and empathy, which ultimately strengthens the connection between the giver and receiver. To illustrate, let’s say that your friend has been feeling academically burnt out from exams and knowing this, you surprise them by delivering them food, so they don’t have to spend time cooking. Maybe the food only costs you 10 euros, but the idea that you are aware of their state of being and take action means a lot to them. If this is your only primary love language, it might be tough for you to both give love to others and perceive love for yourself, considering the result of such a questionnaire. Other people who do not speak this language might not see giving a present as equal to showing love due to their pre-judgment of anything materialistic.
Despite All the differences in showing and receiving love, you still can speak different love languages and still have a healthy relationship and friendship. It’s all about communication, understanding, and compromise. I hope this simple guideline can help you analyze your own situation if there’s a time when you feel unappreciated while in Groningen. Instead of making distinctions and creating a limiting barrier, let’s make some efforts to create a more loving world where everyone can feel appreciated and safe.
Written with love in every meaning,
By Samara Jetta
Note: the questionnaire should only be viewed as a guiding illustration rather than a definitive result of all Groningen’s student population in a statistical study.