I had a great week celebrating Thanksgiving with family. Along with the turkey and pie, I really enjoyed just hanging out and having some good conversation. At one point, a group of us starting talking about introversion and extroversion and the misunderstandings that surround these different personality types. I found it interesting that people rarely have meaningful conversations about their differences and what makes them unique. It was a particularly fascinating dynamic to have couples that I know well participate and share what made them different.
At one point, the conversation turned to relationships, and we started talking about the 5 Love Languages. Someone in the group had read the book. I haven’t read the book, but my understanding is that, according to this theory, there are 5 basic “languages” of showing love: service, affirmation, touch, gifts, and time. The idea is that each person has preferred ways that we would like to be shown love by our significant other. And often we then show our partner love in the way that we would like to be shown love. However, our partner may not feel loved most in the same “language” as we do. (I won’t detail it all here, as this is just to illustrate my point about being able to have a conversation about our differences.) I was intrigued by the different reactions among the couples as they discussed their own languages of love vs. their spouse’s languages, and how that impacted their relationships.
I have not read the “5 Love Languages” book, and as I mentioned, this post is really not meant to be about the 5 Love Languages. But we had a very interesting conversation amongst the couples involved. My observation was that most individuals in the group were very different from each other. Some had learned how to communicate their love in the way their partner preferred during their time together. Some had not really considered if the way they showed their partner love was in a way that their partner felt loved. We also had broader conversations about growing up as siblings with our own unique personality styles, but recognized that differing personality styles and needs were NOT discussed back then when we were children. I wished they had been. I have definitely learned most of what I know now about my own personality and how to interact with others the hard way.
We had a great conversation. It was so apparent that as people, and perhaps especially for those of us who are introverts, much more conversation needs to happen about our differences and what makes us great as individuals. We need to understand our partners, our children, those we work with, those in our communities, and other people in general. For some reason we were not all made the same. How can we accelerate these conversations? When will we learn to appreciate the unique gifts we have all been given? I don’t have all of the answers, but hopefully we will all have opportunities to take our conversations to a deeper level as we learn to celebrate what makes us strong.