Have you ever been asked “What’s your love language?” Nah me either until YESTERDAY. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner (tomorrow), when is it better to talk about love languages? The love languages describe five ways that people receive and express love in a relationship. Knowing your partner’s love language and letting them know yours can help you both feel loved and appreciated.
The five love languages were developed by author and couples counselor Gary Chapman, PhD in 1992 in his book ‘The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.’ If you’ve ever been in a relationship and encountered a problem that felt like you were fundamentally misunderstanding your partner (and who hasn’t?), your online search has probably led you to the “What is your love language?” question and/or quiz.
When counseling couples Dr.Chapman began to recognise a pattern, he realised the couples were misunderstanding one another’s needs. Even love can sometimes get lost in translation when two partners speak different love languages.
The five love languages are: acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Not everyone communicates love in the same way, and likewise, people have different ways they prefer to receive love. When we know what another person’s love language is, we can choose the gestures that will most resonate with our partner, friend, parent or child. Nearly everyone wants to show their partner that they care about them, yet many people struggle to do it in a way that speaks to their loved one’s heart. However, when we know which actions speak to us and make us feel loved, we can ask other people for exactly what we need.
After many years of counseling couples in crisis, Dr. Chapman says, “It became apparent to me that what makes one person feel loved isn’t always the same for their spouse or partner,” he explains. “I discovered every person understands and receives love in a specific language, one of five to be precise. The other four are just as important and offer [other] ways to express love to each other.”
People with physical touch as their love language feel loved when they receive physical signs of affection, including kissing, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, and sex. Physical intimacy and touch can be incredibly affirming and serve as a powerful emotional connector for people with this love language. People who communicate their appreciation through this language, when they consent to it, feel appreciated when they are hugged, kissed, or cuddled.
Gifts is a pretty straightforward love language: You feel loved when people give you “visual symbols of love”. However, don’t misinterpret this – this isn’t about materialistic gifts, but rather the symbolic thought behind the item. People with this style recognise and value the gift-giving process: the careful reflection, the deliberate choosing of the object to represent the relationship, and the emotional benefits from receiving the present. They treasure not only the gift itself but also the time and effort the gift-giver put into it.
Words of Affirmation
When this is someone’s primary love language, they enjoy kind words of appreciation and encouragement as well as frequent compliments, uplifting quotes, love notes, and cute text messages. You can make this person’s day by complimenting them or pointing out what they do well.
People whose love language is quality time feel the most adored when their partner actively wants to spend time with them and is always ready to hang out. They particularly love active listening, eye contact, and full presence when they are talking to you. Love and affection are expressed for someone with this love language through undivided attention. The person feels loved if you are present and focused on them. This means putting down the cell phone, turning off the tablet, making eye contact, and actively listening. Affirm what the other person is saying and refrain from offering advice.
Acts of Service
If your love language is acts of service, you value when your partner goes out of their way to make your life easier. It’s things like helping you with house chores, making you breakfast in the morning, or running the bath for you after a hard day at work. This love language is for people who believe that actions speak louder than words. They love when people do little things for them and often can be found doing these acts of service for others.
Well there you have it – the five love languages. Hopefully after reading this you are more enlightened to what both you, and your partner are after when it comes to your own languages of love. Remember – just because a certain thing is your love language, doesn’t mean it is also your partners. If you really want to show someone how much you love them, you need to understand them first.