A&E: From gift giving to quality time: what love languages do students at SCHS speak?

As flowers and chocolates appear in stores, the time of year to show love is around the corner. Valentine’s Day offers numerous affectionate opportunities. From hugging friends to sending a gift or letter to their partners, people have different forms of love languages.

Love languages are the ways people prefer to express and receive their appreciation. These styles of affection are not reserved to significant others but for any relationship.

Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, realized understanding love languages helped couples form deeper connections. He explained this theory in his book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.”

Chapman found that couples that did not understand the best ways to show affection for each other did not have happy marriages. Without understanding the type of love language their partner preferred, couples would not be able to understand each other. The five general acts of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gift giving and physical touch.

Freshman Elexis Ruiz explained that physical affection is her preferred way of expressing love for her significant other, while favoring words of affirmation and giving gifts for her friends and family. Her baby brother, however, is an exception as he often receives hugs from Ruiz.

“I think it [hugs] makes him happy because a lot of the time he’s doing the same back,” Ruiz said. “He’s still a baby but he’s starting to understand more, and he’s been grabbing onto me more than usual.”

One of Chapman’s other books, “The 5 Love Languages of Children,” mentions how physical touch is a method to communicate love towards a child. Though physical affection is typically shown from a parent, an infant can recognize their close family members’ touch. Infants, who cannot verbally communicate, can understand emotional attachment, especially through touch.

Ruiz explained that physical touch is a way to support a loved one in distress, especially for crying children. Several students, including sophomore Robert Ray, agree that physical touch is their favorite way to express their love.

“It [hugs] just makes me feel comforted. It makes me feel better, I guess, and it’s just easier for me to give and receive,” Ray said.

Along with physical touch, Ray also enjoys spending quality time with people he cares about. Another love language, the definition of quality time varies from person to person. It could be shopping, eating or simply being together. According to Ray, paying attention to his loved ones and spending time with them is an easy way to connect, as friends or as family.

“With family, if we’re all together and we’re having dinner together, we talk about our days and like to ask each other things,” Ray said. “Then we might watch a movie or something and spend time together.”

According to Chapman, togetherness is an important aspect of quality time, requiring focused attention. Being in the same room with one another does not have the same effect unless both people feel cherished with the other’s presence. People can achieve this by talking, listening to each other or simply being together.

Similar to Ray, junior Crystal Aguilar also enjoys spending quality time with her friends. She feels happy knowing her friends enjoy her presence, along with knowing her personality.

“My friend, Lana, we go out a lot to Target, but she always knows for some reason. Even when I don’t tell her she’s like, ‘Do you want to go out?’” Aguilar said. “She just knows who I am.”

Quality time is important in many of Aguilar’s relationships. Creating memories makes her happy as this way of showing affection gives her a chance to be around her loved ones.

“It’s just those moments that make the memories really special,” Aguilar said.

Senior Andrew Gabriel Herrera Gutierrez agrees that quality time with family and friends allows him to create strong bonds.

“Spending time with people is an easier way to get to know them,” Gutierrez said. “The more time you spend with someone, I feel like the more attached you’ll get to them.”

Gutierrez’s family members often express their affection verbally, which reassures and encourages him daily, motivating him to succeed.

“My mom (shows affection) by words of affirmation,” Gutierrez said. “She always tells me she believes in me whenever I need that push, especially in senior year.”

Love languages bring happiness to both those who are receiving and giving affection. Gutierrez recalls a time when he gave a gift to his friend, which brought her joy.

“I gave my friend a box of Pocky sticks that she really liked, and I remember seeing the smile on her face,” Gutierrez said.

Love is shown throughout the year but is highlighted as Valentine’s Day approaches. Gary Chapman’s theory of the five love languages advises that knowing how what makes loved ones happy is crucial in any relationship.

“Once you get to know their love language, you know how to comfort them, you know what to do when they’re feeling sad or they’re nervous or having anxiety,” Aguilar said. “You know what makes them feel comfortable and feel loved.”