Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” has been around for almost three decades. It was a #1 New York Times Best Seller, and it has been used and referenced by countless celebrities, counselors, and relationship coaches to help people understand how to best communicate with their partner. The book is written from a Christian perspective and may therefore not be the right fit for everyone, but the basic concepts work just fine without that context. The five Love Languages (Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch) are equally applicable to everyone in all relationships, regardless of background, and most people fall pretty strongly into one or two “love language” categories. The love languages aren’t just relevant to romantic love or intimacy between spouses or partners, either. Your love language informs how you feel and accept love & affection overall: from your spouse or partner, your children, family members, and even close friends. If you want to know more about your own love language and that of your partner, you can take the official quizzes here…there is one for couples & singles, and even slightly different versions for kids and teens. Once you know your love language, check out our summaries below for more information:
The Five Love Languages:
Words of Affirmation:
Simply put, this love language uses words to affirm other people. Words have a lot of power to someone with this love language. If this is your partner’s love language, try to use words to build them up as much as possible. Frequent (but meaningful) “I love you”s and simple verbal compliments (“That outfit looks incredible on you!”; “I love your hair today!”) and praises (“I am so proud of you!”; “Your smile lights up my life!”) go a long way toward making this language feel loved. If hearing words like this make you feel most loved, this may be your love language! Let your partner know! In the same way that a person with this love language loves to be built up by positive words, they are also sensitive to and easily torn down by negative words. If this is your partner’s love language, be mindful of your tone and word selection when disagreeing or arguing with them…you don’t want to make it sound like a personal attack, and your words carry a lot of weight and may really hurt them.
Acts of Service:
For people with this love language, actions speak louder than words. If this is your partner’s love language, they find joy and express themselves by doing “acts of service” – thoughtful tasks that take planning, time, and effort – for the primary purpose of making their loved ones happy. Cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking pets to the vet or kids to the doctor…if you enjoy and choose to do these things spontaneously, freely, and without obligation, just to make your partner’s life easier, this might be your love language! If it’s your partner’s love language, make sure to show appreciation for the many things they do…they’re doing it all to show YOU they care! Make sure to carry your own load as well. Don’t make them feel put-upon with task requests they can’t take on right now. To be a true ‘act of service’ for them, they have to do it of their own volition and with a positive attitude. Lastly, If you tell someone with this love language that you’re going to do something, it is very important to them that you keep your word.
A person with this as their love language isn’t necessarily materialistic…you don’t need to shower them with flashy goods. It just means that receiving a meaningful or thoughtful gift from time to time is the easiest way to make them feel loved and appreciated. If this is your partner’s love language, occasionally surprise your sweetie with little gifts to remind them you care and were thinking about them. They don’t have to be big, expensive, or elaborate. A pint of their favorite ice cream, a handmade card, or a six pack of their favorite drink after you know they’ve had a rough week will do the trick! If this is your partner’s primary love language, remember that it’s more about the thought behind the gift than the gift itself. Don’t get them random crap just for the sake of giving them a gift. If there’s no story or reason behind why you’re giving them something at a particular time, you’re overdoing it, and they will question your motives.
The key phrase for this love language is “undivided attention”. If this is your partner’s love language, they just want to spend time with you. JUST you. No distractions from TV or smartphones. On that note, you can totally snuggle on the couch and watch TV together, if that is how you are deliberately choosing to spend your time together…and if that’s all you’re doing – no texting your friends during the show! A person with this love language isn’t selfish or overly demanding of your time…they just feel most loved and comforted in a relationship when they can spend dedicated time with YOU! Find things you like to do together, take walks, play board games, have movie nights…just be together, whenever you are able, and no matter what you do. Canceling date nights, postponing scheduled time together, or not being fully present when you are physically together, are all easy ways to hurt this lover’s feelings. Focus on listening when they speak, limiting distractions, and working designated “hang times” for just the two of you into your schedules, and you’ll have smooth sailing with a Quality Time speaker!
Let’s get one thing out of the way first…this love language isn’t all about sex and intimacy…that exists and is important in romantic relationships across ALL of the Love Languages. If Physical Touch is your love language or your partner’s, all it means is that you (or they) like…nay…NEED, to be touched in order to feel loved and appreciated. Someone with this love language puts a lot of value in hugging, kissing, cuddling, holding hands, etc. It makes them feel connected to you, safe, and secure in your relationship. A giant bear hug at the end of a hard day can literally fix everything for them. They’re NOT into over-the-top PDA, especially if it’s not an appropriate time or place, but without being physically close to you sometimes, they will begin to feel unloved, distant, or even resentful. The physical connection here is just as important as the emotional one. Make sure to communicate about what kinds of touch and proximity are most comforting for them, and provide it as often as you can! Physical touch has health benefits for everyone, so think of it as a reminder to hug and kiss more and increase those happy hormones!
Hopefully these summaries of the Five Love Languages have been enjoyable for you, and have given you some insight into how to express your feelings for your partner based on your love languages. I would like to give a shout-out here and say thank you to the sites I used as resources for this post:
5lovelanguages.com, the official Gary Chapman site, where you can go to learn more about his Love Languages books and for more relationship resources.
CratedWithLove.com, an awesome website that sells “dates in a crate”, some of which are easy to pair with your partner based on their love language. Their blog has WAY more information on the Five Love Languages than I could ever have hoped to fit here!
I hope you and your partner have had fun reading, taking the quizzes, and learning more about YOUR love languages. This is just another tool that can help you strengthen your relationship by “speaking your partner’s love language” fluently. By deepening this understanding, you will ideally have more thoughtful communications, more meaningful interactions, fewer misunderstandings, and a healthier, happier life together!