In order to feel loved, people have different expectations from their partners, friends, and family. Not everyone experiences and demonstrates love in the same way, which is why people react differently to displays of love.
Dr. Gary Chapman decided to research the topic of how people express and expect love and categorized the types he studied into five love languages. Interpreting the expression of love as a language helps people analyze the ways they want to experience love and the ways they like to communicate love.
Let’s take a look at the five love languages so you can see which resonate most strongly with you and your partner.
How Love Languages Work
Just like with all forms of communication, not everyone speaks the same language; if someone is saying “I love you” in German to someone who only speaks Spanish, the person being spoken to will not experience the love the German is showing.
In the same way, someone might like to give their partner trinkets to commemorate their dates, such as a seashell from the beach or a leaf from a hike. However, their partner might just see these items as trash while the giver sees them as gifts.
If you and your partner don’t know each other’s preferred way to give and receive love, neither one of you will feel particularly cared for, even if you both think you are demonstrating your love effectively. However, there’s a difference between miscommunication and a toxic relationship.
The 5 Love Languages
Dr. Chapman determined that there are five primary languages with which you can express your love. Figuring out which one your partner responds the best to will help you know how you can make them feel the most loved.
- Words of Affirmation: This language is the most centered around language itself. Your partner enjoys hearing that they did a good job, that they look nice today, and that they are appreciated in the relationship. Be sure to express your feelings for them verbally.
- Acts of Service: This type of love language is acts of service, which means your partner values when you do things for them. They’ll appreciate if you proofread their essay, do the dishes, or book a reservation at your favorite restaurant.
- Receiving Gifts: The person who enjoys receiving gifts is not necessarily a materialistic person. A gift could be a rock you found on your walk together, or it could be a drawing you made on a napkin on your first date. It’s not as much about getting things, but that your partner saw an object and it reminded them so much of you that they had to give it to you.
- Quality Time: This person enjoys receiving undivided attention during a date. Set aside time specifically for that person so that they feel valued and worthy of your time. If you have a busy schedule, making time just for them is extremely important.
- Physical Touch: This person thrives on handholding, hugging, and any type of intimate physical contact. This love language isn’t just about sex. This can be shown in hugging your mother goodbye, holding your brother’s hand at a funeral, or holding a baby for the first time. All of these are very heartfelt, intimate moments for someone who values physical touch.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
While all of these love languages are important, it takes more than just speaking any one of them to make someone feel truly loved. Everyone has different ways of demonstrating their feelings and showing love to others.
If a partner’s love language is receiving gifts, they will feel the most loved if their partner shows that love by constantly giving gifts (big or small). On the flip side, if their language is physical touch, constantly saying you love them won’t make them feel as good as hugging them frequently will.
Eye contact also helps immensely in a relationship. A person who speaks physical touch will feel loved when their partner holds eye contact with them, whereas someone whose love language is words of affirmation, they might not even notice the lack of eye contact.
It’s important to realize that these five languages apply to both romantic partners and platonic relationships, so it can be tough explaining to someone whose love language is physical touch that you don’t like to be touched. However, it’s important to keep in mind how you can show your love and respect for others without disregarding their feelings.
The Secret to Love
Knowing your partner’s love language helps you know how to show your affection the best. If you know that their love language is physical touch, and you like receiving gifts instead, don’t make them feel like they aren’t giving you enough.
The love language concept helps people understand what makes them feel cared for in their personal relationships. If your partner is feeling unloved, it’s important to take the time to understand why. This can help you reach a compromise on how you both show love for each other, and it might mean you have to communicate more effectively about your feelings.
Determining Your Primary Love Language
Not sure what your primary love language is? Take this quiz to find out!
1. You just got a promotion at work! How would you like your partner to celebrate you?
- a. Throw a party with your closest friends
- b. Tell you how proud they are of you
- c. Get you a card and a stuffed bear
2. You’re going through a rough time and your mom wants to make you feel better. What is the best thing she can do?
- a. Give you a long, motherly hug
- b. Watch your favorite movie with you
- c. Make your favorite homecooked meal for you to take home
3. Your friend just handed you a birthday gift. What do you hope is inside?
- a. Two tickets to skydiving lessons together
- b. A homemade book talking about your friendship and why she values you so dearly
- c. A locket with a picture of the two of you inside
4. You just hiked to the top of a difficult mountain trail with your partner. How could they make the moment even more special?
- a. Hold your hand and kiss your forehead
- b. Say they’re proud of the two of you for working together to make it
- c. Hand you a really interesting rock they found that they want you to have
5. You’ve had a really long day at work. You walk in the house; what do you hope to find?
- a. That your partner did the dishes and cooked dinner
- b. Your partner on the couch with your favorite take out and the movie you’ve been meaning to watch loaded on Netflix
- c. Your partner’s outstretched arms waiting to hold you and hear you vent about your day
Most people have multiple love languages they respond to, so don’t be surprised if you have two highly ranked answers.
But don’t forget the most important part of this quiz; make sure your partner takes it, too. Discuss your results with each other. While it’s important to know your own love language, it’s not possible for your partner to fulfill your needs if they don’t know what language to speak to you.
The Most Important Part of Love Languages
The biggest takeaway from love languages? Communication is key. And communication is not exclusively verbal.
Even if someone hasn’t said the words “I love you,” this week, take a look at what love languages they like to use and analyze their actions. When they did that extra load of laundry, held you as you fell asleep, or said they were proud of you for how hard you worked that week, they were saying I love you every time.
If you want to learn more about relationships from Dr. Gary Chapman, check out special offers and resources on their website. You can use their resources to strengthen your communication skills with their practical tips.
1. Question 1: (A) Acts of Service (B) Words of Affirmation (C) Receiving Gifts
2. Question 2: (A) Physical Touch (B) Quality Time (C) Acts of Service
3. Question 3: (A) Quality Time (B) Words of Affirmation (C) Receiving Gifts
4. Question 4: (A) Physical Touch (B) Words of Affirmation (C) Receiving Gifts
5. Question 5: (A) Acts of Service (B) Quality Time (C) Physical TouchPublished in
Author, Artist, Photographer.
Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.
She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.
She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.