The five love languages—words of reassurance, physical contact, quality time, gifts, and acts of service—are the five love languages, each representing a unique way of expressing love. Gary Chapman, Ph.D., first proposed the love language theory in the 1990s, claiming that each person has a preferred love language for giving and receiving love.
One person may feel most appreciated when their partner says “I love you” (the affirmation love language). At the same time, others may feel most appreciated when their partner gives them lots of affectionate touches like kisses and holding hands (the physical touch love language). When two partners don’t realize they have different love languages, problems can arise in their relationship. A person whose love language is acts of service might, for example, cook meals for their partner regularly as an expression of love. However, if their partner’s love language is an affirmation, they may not consider this a sign of love.
Understanding love languages is a seemingly simple concept that can be life-changing if you put in the effort. It invites curiosity into the relationship rather than mind-reading.
Here are some types of love languages you should try with your partner:
Mothers are encouraged to carry their newborns on their chests from the moment they are born. Neonatal units are where babies are kept. As we age, our need for physical touch does not diminish. Numerous studies have demonstrated the physical and mental benefits of being touched by others.
Physical contact does not always imply an obnoxious public display of affection that irritates others. Instead, it entails kissing, hugging, and holding hands; it could even suggest sitting close to your partner. It’s a way for couples to feel safer and more connected.
However, not everyone was raised in a home where physical contact was valued. However, they may feel unloved if they’re in a relationship with someone whose primary love language is physical touch, no matter how many gifts and words of love they receive.
Act of service
The love language of acts of service differs from the love language of receiving gifts. If you hear your partner say that actions speak louder than words, you’ll know they’re using this love language. Acts of service don’t need to be large, grand gestures. Instead, simple acts of kindness such as cooking your spouse’s favorite meal, unloading the dishwasher, or picking up their dry cleaning are excellent examples.
All of these actions are straightforward, but they necessitate time, effort, and consideration. Your loved one will value the time, effort, and thought you put into it the most. However, if you perform these acts out of liability and/or make a big whoop, this love language will lead to disaster. Instead, for the best results, perform acts of service out of love and an interest in making the other person happy.
It’s important to note that just because receiving gifts is someone’s love language doesn’t imply they’re a gold digger or only want material possessions to feel cherished and loved. It does imply that getting something thoughtful and meaningful, such as bringing their favorite candy bar home after a particularly trying week, will make them feel valued and loved.
You don’t have to go way over the top and spend a lot of money to make them feel special; even small gifts can make them feel special. This is one of the more straightforward love languages to pick up, particularly if you didn’t grow up in a household where giving gifts was a priority.
Words of affirmation
Any spoken words of affection, reassurance, or concern are considered words of affirmation. People who speak this love language enjoy receiving compliments, hearing what their partner likes about them, and hearing the words “I love you” and its many variations. You could even compliment seemingly insignificant details like their hair, clothes, interests, and personality traits.
Spending quality time
Offering someone your full attention is the thing that makes up love languages. That means spending time with someone you care about without being distracted by your smartphone, the latest football game on TV, or any other type of distraction. While you can still snuggle up in front of the TV to watch something you both enjoy, the primary focus should be on spending uninterrupted time together. There are no friends or family members permitted.
This provides comfort and value to someone whose love language is quality time. However, if you’re prone to canceling or shifting this quality time with your partner, it will be detrimental to your relationship. And it’s not enough to be physically present with someone but not emotionally.
Quality time does not include taking someone out to dinner and chatting up the bartender while ignoring your loved one. If you’re easily distracted, spend quality time together doing something with few or no distractions, such as going for a walk in the woods.
So what’s my love language?
Consider how you convey affection to the people you care about, whether they are friends, family, or romantic partners, to figure out your love language. Do you like to cuddle up on the couch with them? Or do you prefer to lavish them with praise and affirmation?
Perhaps you’d instead make grand gestures of care, such as showing up unexpectedly to drive them home from work? Perhaps the most obvious way you show you care is by paying the bill at brunch or buying something for them when you’re doing something you know they’ll like while shopping. Your love language is usually evident in how you display love to those you love—and how you want them to show you love them. You could have multiple love languages or just one primary love language and a few secondary ones.
You may have one love language for receiving love and a different love language for giving love. Words of affirmation, for example, may be what you need from others to feel loved, but acts of service may be the primary way you show love to others.
Pay close attention to the receiving language—how you want to feel loved and how those around you want to receive love. The giver should be aware of the receiver’s love language, as the goal is to make the recipient feel loved in a way they will value.
Keeping healthy boundaries between you and your partner when using the love languages framework is crucial. It is not acceptable to use the concept of love languages to exert control over your partner’s behavior. Each love language has a different way of expressing itself. If physical touch is your primary love language, that doesn’t mean you’ll always and only want to express love through sex.
If physical touch is your primary love language, that doesn’t mean you’ll always and only want to express love through sex. “If you loved me, you would…” is never acceptable in a successful relationship, and telling your loved one, “If you loved me, you would…” is never good.
Think of it as another medium of communication you can use to form closer connections, regardless of your love language or how well it might blend with your partner’s. In conclusion, it just feels nice to know that somebody will go to the store and pick up the paper towels and that someone else will respond with “I love you.”