May 27, 2019

A lot of important things happened in 1992.

The Cold War ended, Jay Leno just debuted as the nation’s Tonight Show host, Nirvana was all the rage—and Gary Chapman, Ph.D., a pastor and doctor of philosophy, introduced the world to The Five Love Languages, shifting the way we talk about giving and receiving love.

In his book, the author described five different ways people experience love—and suggested that each of us has a primary and secondary way of doing so:

●︎ Gifts

●︎ Quality time

●︎ Words of affirmation

●︎ Acts of service

●︎ Physical touch

We live in a world full of Buzzfeed quiz enthusiasts, so it makes sense that categorizing the way we love would be something many of us might gravitate towards.

But finding out the ways people—romantic or platonic—receive love can change how you give love and really make a difference in how you experience your relationship with that person.

I’ve had millions of conversations with friends and family members about the ways we want to be loved, and how we can support and love each other using that as a framework for our relationships.

It wasn’t until I saw a tweet recently that caught me off guard and changed the way I thought about love languages altogether. It asked a very simple question: “Do you love yourself using your own love languages?”

My mind was blown. The tweet, penned by Shia Lacunt, included a poll and more than half of the 2,000 people who voted responded with "um, I didn't know I could."

I realized I wasn’t alone in forgetting to love myself with the same intentionality I tried to show others.

I realized I wasn’t alone in forgetting to love myself with the same intentionality I tried to show others.

The question had me examining the ways that I cared for myself, and whether or not they matched up with how I expected others to best care for me, too.

For example: I realized that words of affirmation was my primary love language—yet it was so hard for me to show myself love with some kind words. My secondary love language is acts of service. But the last time I went out of my way to do something kind for myself? Let’s just say it’s been a lot longer than I’d like to admit.

If you’re in the same boat as me, here’s a little guidance on how to actually show yourself some love with your love languages—consider them your self-love languages, too.

If your love language is gifts, try:

In the words of Retta: Treat yo' self.

Whether it’s with a home cooked meal or a new set of pens, just remember: You don’t need to wait for any reason to shower yourself with meaningful gifts.

If your love language is touch, try:

Book yourself a massage or take an extra five minutes when you’re getting ready in the morning to work through those knots in your shoulders.

Also: Placing your hand on your stomach and doing some deep belly breaths can work wonders, too.

If your love language is words of affirmation, try:

Grabbing a journal and taking time to write a letter to yourself about your favorite character traits.

Another option: Fill a jar with notes about things you have done or habits you have formed that you’re proud of. Pull out a note on the days that you need an extra boost.

If your love language is acts of service, try:

Try going out of your way to do something that will help future you. Maybe that means sorting your laundry as the dirty clothes pile up rather than waiting for laundry day to sneak up.

Volunteering with an organization that aligns with your passions and interests can also be a great way to show up for yourself and your community.

If your love language is quality time, try:

Treat yourself to a solo dinner date (or brunch!) and give yourself space to be with you. Take time to go on a walk alone, without headphones, to connect with your thoughts. Or, spend some solo time with a bunch of other people at the movies.

However you choose to practice self-love, remember it's a journey. Discovering the ways you want to be loved by you may take time, but it's always worthwhile work in the end.

Read next: 13 Powerful Quotes From Black Women About Self-Love

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