I love the idea of love languages.
There are five ways people like to be loved. Not to simplify an idea that somehow occupied the pages of an entire book, but some people like gifts, some people like touch, some people like quality time, some people like to hear nice things about themselves, and some people like for you to do nice things for them.
I like this idea. It's super cozy, just like any idea where I get to nicely compartmentalize people into little boxes in my mind. And while I think it's overly simplistic for a life partner (romantic or otherwise), it is useful for employee recognition. Like if public recognition makes Sally's skin crawl, it's nice to know that so you don't shame her when you're trying to appreciate her. If she wants a $5 Starbucks gift card instead, BLESS HER, THAT'S EASY.
So yes, ask your employees and volunteers. Pay attention that some people would rather get a nice card with a few words of praise instead of another Chipotle gift card for their birthday. It's not the magic of the languages, it's just being attentive.
Also, if someone gives you something, that was the point. Say thank you for being appreciated, acknowledged, or remembered. Then pass the intention along. Appreciate. Acknowledge. Remember.
When it comes to intimacy, I think it's too simplistic to pick a love language using an online quiz and deciding Now And Forever, this is how I love you.
People get touched out. Gifts are hard to shop for. Words are hard to come by sometimes.
Love is multilingual.
Control is not a love language, but boy can it disguise itself as one.
You can use nice words to be mean.
Recognition and service to shame.
Touch to contain.
Gifts to obligate.
(I have done all of these things).
“You owe me,” is how some people say, “I love you.”
(This is not love).
I'll leave that to Rumi, and Rupi Kaur, and poets who have a better sense of what it is. But I'll tell you what it's not.
I think love says – follow your inner calling, your own path. Be true to yourself, even if it isn't with me.
Love reminds you that you can swim - invites you out of the burning lifeboat to save you from the impending undertow.
Reciprocity, not transaction.
And here is the secret to know if you're loving with a side of control and manipulation: is it important that the person on the receiving end know that what was offered came from you?
Your gift, your service, your words, may have been a downpayment on future expectations.
And the only things more likely to cause suffering than unmet expectations?
Those you've paid for.