Most high schools and universities offer a plethora of foreign languages to study from French to Spanish to German. One language that is not listed is the language of love. Dr. Gary Chapman, a couples counselor, found different people with different personalities express love in different ways. He noticed couples’ ways of communicating typically fell into five different categories. Relationships flourish when we can understand support one another. Learning your love language (as well as your partner’s) can be an instrumental piece of knowledge in building a strong, healthy relationship.
What are the Five Love Languages?
The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts. Each love language is expressed and received in a different way. It is important to learn your own and others’ love languages to better understand your loved ones and be understood. Love languages don’t only have to apply to romantic relationships. Friendships, work relationships, and children/teenager interactions can all be strengthened when we learn the other individual’s love language as well as our own.
Words of Affirmation
Contrary to the popular saying, actions don’t always speak louder than words. Words of affirmation are characterized as verbal expressions of positive, affirming statements to another person. This can be expressed through a thoughtful note, a compliment, or an empathetic reflection. For someone whose love language is words of affirmation, compliments and kind words can mean the world to them. They receive love through hearing support and feedback from others through words. Consequently, insults can be particularly heart-wrenching for those whose love language is words of affirmation. Insults may not be easily forgotten or forgiven.
How do I communicate with someone whose love language is words of affirmation?
- Show your gratitude and appreciation by saying “I’m grateful for you because…” or “I really appreciate when you…”.
- Reflect back to them what you are hearing. Even if you don’t understand someone’s experience, demonstrate empathy through reflection. For example, “I hear you saying…”.
- Write a thoughtful note.
- Tell them with words why you love them or care about them.
Acts of Service
Nothing speaks as loudly as a thoughtful action to people whose love language is acts of service. “I love you’s” may not mean as much as a helpful action. Acts of service may include cleaning the house, cooking a meal, or anything you think your partner may appreciate. Actions truly speak louder than words for these individuals. These may include actions that the partner does not explicitly ask for.
How do I communicate with someone whose love language is acts of service?
- Make a lunch for your partner when you know they won’t have enough time to make it for themselves.
- Help with things around the house.
- Complete small acts before being asked to do them. Think of what would be helpful for your partner.
Quality time is all about spending time with your partner with purpose. This love language focuses on building emotional connection by doing things together. Spending time with your partner intentionally and talking can be examples of ways to engage in quality time. Convey your love to your partner with the love language of quality time by giving them your undivided attention and making time to do things together.
How do I communicate with someone whose love language is quality time?
- Spend one hour everyday talking about how each of your days’ went. Ensure this time is not interrupted with distractions, like electronics or other people.
- Make an effort to plan a date night monthly.
- Do not multitask when your partner is talking with you.
- Make eye contact with your partner.
To contrary belief, an individual with the love language of physical touch does not have to be the touchiest person. Hugs, pats on the backs, and hand holding convey a sense of security and support. It helps the individual to know they are being cared for and understood. Physical presence plays an essential role in this love language.
How do I communicate with someone whose love language is physical touch?
- Hold their hand.
- Touch their arm while conversing with them to convey understanding and connection.
- Give hugs or pat them on the back.
A central aspect to this love language is gift giving. This does not equate to someone being money-oriented or materialistic. An individual whose love language is receiving gifts is touched by the thoughtfulness and love put into giving a gift. They feel especially loved and supported when their partner gives them something they think the individual may enjoy. These individuals are particularly hurt when their partner forgets an important date, such as their birthday or anniversary. It is not about the amount of money spent, but the amount of thought and love put into giving the gift.
How do I communicate with someone whose love language is receiving gifts?
- Purchase a small gift you think they would like when you go on vacation.
- Buy their favorite candy or snack for them as a surprise.
- Create a homemade arts and crafts project to give them when they are feeling sad.
- Avoid generic gifts. It’s the thought that counts!
How do I learn my love language?
Take the 30-item paired statement test online to discover your strongest love language. You will be presented with two options of what you would typically prefer in a situation. According to Chapman’s Love Language website (https://www.5lovelanguages.com), the profile will give you a “thorough analysis of your emotional communication preference.” This brief test can be completed in 10-15 minutes. It should be taken when you are in a relaxed, not tense, state of mind. At the end of the test, the profile will outline your strongest love language(s) , what it means, and how you can utilize your love language to connect with others to add more intimacy and fulfillment to your life.