Thursday, September 23, 2010

Communicating Love

When a friend of mine handed me her copy of Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, Singles Edition and told me to take the “quiz,” I thought she was crazy. If there’s anything I detest it’s a psychological test. Yes, many were developed from anti-Christian theories and constructed to force complex humans into neat little categories. However, my strongest complaint is that, instead of using these as helpful tools for identifying personality traits and analyzing behavior, I’ve known many people who treat them as infallible tests, producing the absolute truth rather than a generalization and even having the capability of identifying “spiritual gifts.” But Chapman’s “love language” categories seemed to have a more practical function, based on empirical observation rather than constructed to fit some sort of mass program. It also helped that he doesn’t have a degree in Psychology…

At any rate, I took the quiz. My friend wasn’t surprised by the rankings:

1. Physical Touch
2. Quality Time
3. Acts of Service
4. Words of Affirmation
5. Receiving Gifts

After thinking about what I tend to expect and desire from those I interact with, I realized that the outcome appeared rather accurate. And taking the test made me think more about what others expected and desired and how they differed from me. It made me more sensitive to how my hugginess was a turn-off for many people, and motivated me to start praising and complimenting them instead. I tried to look for clues as to what people really wanted rather than what I would want in the same situation.

As for my own needs, I did expect a change as I aged and shifted my goals away from an intimate relationship and towards family relationships and friendships. Today, almost two years later, I retook the online version of the singles’ quiz, and compared with the previous one. Exactly the same ranking, although the scores are further apart now. Before #1 and #2 were fairly close and lower, and #4 and #5 had the exact same higher score. Now the distribution is spread evenly across the spectrum. Looks like I’m becoming more set in my ways as I’m getting older. I’ll have to take the test again in another two years and see what happens then.