Well, I’m very sorry to report the exciting event I rambled about in my last column did not occur. Self-proclaimed “Master Bigfoot hunter” Rick Dyer canceled his Feb. 9 news conference, in which he promised to reveal proof he has finally captured and killed a real Bigfoot.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Bigfoot’s existence will be confirmed anytime in the near future. For now, the question will resume its place amongst the other great mysteries of life, like “Are we alone in the universe?” and “Who built the Great Pyramids?” and “How did Dan and Roseanne Conner manage to sleep together in that tiny bed?”
The Bigfoot letdown was disappointing enough to completely ruin any high-pressure, manufactured commercial holiday, but I hope everyone managed to have a great Valentine’s Day, nonetheless. I’d like to say that means I hope you spent time with the one you love the most, whoever that may be, but given the common practices of V-Day, I suppose it means I hope you received the romantic gift you were hoping for or chose just the right thing to make that special someone smile.
I’ll never forget my first Valentine’s Day with my husband. We’d been dating about three months when V-Day came around, and he showed up at my office with two dozen roses, a huge box of chocolates, three balloons and an 8-foot-tall stuffed gorilla. It was so insanely over the top I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.
I also remember the first time I got mildly upset when he almost forgot V-Day altogether, and barely pulled through with a coffee mug full of peppermints he found at the gas station on his way home from work. A few minutes later, I realized that I really don’t give a damn and only cared because for some strange reason I thought I was supposed to.
For some people, however, this sort of stuff is a really big deal, and a forgotten or thoughtless V-Day gift can cause serious hurt feelings. It’s easy to dismiss this view if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t put much weight into gifts, but the realization that not everyone gives and receives love in the same way can significantly improve all of your relationships.
I was first introduced to this concept years ago when I read “The Five Love Languages,” the bestselling book by counselor and relationship expert Gary Chapman. According to Chapman, there are five basic love languages, and we each “speak” in either one or two primary languages.
Your love language is the primary means through which you express your love to others, and the way that you prefer to receive love. Most of us develop a primary love language in childhood, which stays with us throughout life. If we end up in relationships with people who speak a different love language, which is very common, it is easy for one or both parties to feel unsatisfied or even unloved when they simply don’t recognize the love that is being given by their partner.
According to Chapman, it can be very helpful to identify the love language of your romantic partner, children and even your friends so you can intentionally show your love in the way they need it the most, rather than just assuming they want what you’d want.
Those who deal in the Language of Gifts express their love for others through thoughtful gifts, and they feel most loved when they receive tangible reminders that you care. They appreciate gifts as a symbol of your love, and while it sounds materialistic on the surface, the monetary value is irrelevant. They truly value the thought behind the gift and the effort that went into choosing it. A forgotten special occasion or a hasty and thoughtless gift truly says to them, “You’re not important to me.”
Those who love through Words of Affirmation need to hear the words “I love you” and other words of appreciation and encouragement. Their spirits are lifted by unsolicited compliments and other kind words, and harshly delivered insults leave them shattered.
People who love through Acts of Service express their love by doing helpful things for their loved ones, such as cooking a favorite meal or remembering to change the oil in your car. They feel most loved when you do things to ease the burden of their responsibilities. For them, actions speak louder than words, and nothing says “I love you” like doing the dishes or running an errand. Laziness and forgotten chores make them truly feel unloved and unappreciated.
Those who love through Physical Touch express their love through hugs, kisses, back rubs, soft caresses, sex and other forms of touch, and they need an abundance of physical affection to feel loved. Physical presence and accessibility is crucial in their relationships and having a partner who withholds physical affection, intentionally or not, is devastating.
Those who love through Quality Time most appreciate your full, undivided attention, and greatly value companionship and togetherness. They prefer face-to-face conversations with plenty of eye contact, where both parties are sharing their thoughts and feelings without interruptions or distractions. Canceled plans or poor listening skills are very hurtful to these folks.
According to Chapman’s quiz — as well as my own instincts — my primary love language is Physical Touch, matched almost equally by Quality Time. I would be pretty useless in a long-distance relationship, and value physical presence very highly in all my relationships. It’s difficult for me to connect through email and text messages, and I feel most loved by those who make time to see me and share a hug and a meaningful conversation.
I think I’m going to invent a fail-safe Valentine’s gift for everyone: An 8-foot-tall huggable gorilla that spends all its time with you, bakes you cookies, and says “I love you” when you press its thumb. Can’t lose!