Language of Love with a Unique Twist

After an exhausting, but fun-filled, weekend in Dallas recently, my husband and I planted ourselves on the couch, each of us enjoying our books of choice. Between paragraphs, we would laugh and reminisce about our awesome weekend. After reading for about an hour, I pulled out my favorite lotion and gave my honey a well deserved foot rub. He loves to have his feet rubbed. Now that I think about it, he loves to have his back rubbed too. “As long as you are touching me in some way, I am happy,” he often tells me.

When was the last time you spent some time rubbing your honey’s feet? Do you recall the last time you sat next to each other just laughing and hanging out (time in front of the TV does not count)? When was the last time you did the little things for your significant other that you did when you were first dating? Do you remember the last time you told your significant other you were proud of them? Your answers to these questions are important.

We all experience love in different ways. We all give love in different ways. I call this “Animal Love”, and it is a concept I borrowed from Andy Andrew’s book, The Noticer. Animal Love should not be confused with puppy love, where couples spend hours looking longingly into each other’s eyes and share nicknames like “Muffin”. Instead, Animal Love is the way animals expect love to be shown to them. Cats, puppies, canaries and goldfish all thrive on vastly different varieties of love and affection. People, too, thrive on love and affection. But unlike animals, people tend to have a mixture of ways in which they like to be loved.

I tend to be a mixture of a cat and a canary. What about you?

Cat People
I imagine you have either seen a cat, petted a cat or avoided a cat at some point in your life. Cats love to be petted. They will do about any acrobatic feat to feel a hand or a leg rub against them. If you don’t pet them, they will rub themselves against you and pet themselves! Some people know they are loved when they receive affection through touch. These people require physical contact in order to feel loved.

Puppy People
How excited is your puppy when he receives words of approval from you? I bet he wags his tail with excitement. Puppy people thrive with words of approval. Genuine statements like, “I think you are the best husband in the entire world” make puppy people stand taller and feel stronger. This is important to know because puppy people hit their lowest of lows when the one person who is supposed to adore them says derogatory remarks to them. If you love a puppy person, always remember to be very careful with your words.

Canary People
Some people thrive best when the people they love the most just want to spend time with them. This is canary love. Canaries just want their loved ones to hang with them and listen to their beautiful music. They don’t expect physical touch, and they would feel strangely uncomfortable if you started telling them how awesome they are or how gorgeous they looked. Canary people simply need you to spend time and listen to their stories.

Goldfish People
If you petted your goldfish, he would surely be unhappy. Your words mean nothing him, and your goldfish could care less if you gaze longingly into his bowl while listening to his feelings. However, if you don’t clean his bowl and feed him, his life will end quickly. Goldfish people need favors and deeds. They know you love them when you do little things like take out the trash, clean up your dishes, iron their clothes, or put gas in their cars. Goldfish people don’t want to have to ask you to do these chores, they expect them.

Conflict Resolution
We all tend to express love in the same way we expect to receive it. But this can cause problems. If I was a goldfish, and my husband was a puppy, disaster would be inevitable. As we got beyond the “googly-eyes” stage of our romance (which we still have not!), and got to the comfortable or lazy stage, our long term relationship would be doomed because I would be showing him love in the way that I want it, as a goldfish. I would expect him to jump up and take out the trash, to pick up his clothes, and to fix the garbage disposal all because he adored me. And I would show him my love by cooking his meals, cleaning out his vehicle, and ironing his clothes. In the meantime, he would be telling me how much he loved me and how adorable I am. I, however, would just continue doing the tasks that I felt showed him love. I would not tell him how proud I am of him for providing our family with such an amazing house and how cute I think he looks in his jeans. I would simply be frustrated because the garbage disposal was broken.

Not knowing how people need to be loved really is a prescription for disaster. How many couples do you know that are unhappy simply because they do not feel loved?

What animal are you? While reading the descriptions, you have probably come to the conclusion you are a combination of a couple. It would be unnatural to be just a goldfish or just a canary, but being stronger in one or the other would be natural. I am a puppy/canary, and Tim is a puppy/cat. Since we are both strong puppies, it works for us. But when my canary side comes out, it is important to me for him to listen to me (which is a total girl thing, but I can’t help it, and he loves to tease me about this). And when he comes home after a long day at work, I rub his feet because I love him, and that’s what cats love!

So I challenge you to find out what your significant other is and do your best to show your love their way, not your way! When we love someone, we need to love them for who they are, not for what we want them to be. You cannot change the animal in someone, so stop trying! Love your significant other for the animal that’s inside of them!

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