Understanding the Five Love Languages
People express and receive love in different ways. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a book about how people show and share a love for each other.
So, what are the five love languages? The book says that there are five ways (or “languages”) in which people feel loved: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.
If you want to make your spouse or partner feel loved, you should learn what type of love language they speak and then express your affection for them in that language. In addition, there are multiple ways to find out your primary love language.
In the book, Dr. Chapman describes these languages of love and explains how you can figure out which one your significant other uses. Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these different ways as the five love languages:
1. Words of Affirmation
These people need to hear how much you love them and like them. It can be difficult if you’re not a words person but just remember that hearing “I love you“, or “You’re so awesome!” from your partner regularly means the world to someone whose primary language is Words of Affirmation.
This language uses words to affirm other people. Compliments are a good example, but so are encouraging statements (“I appreciate all your help“).
People with this language like to hear, “I love you“, and other compliments about the qualities and actions they value. This is when words are used to compliment your partner, in a way that makes them feel important and loved.
Examples include telling them how much you enjoy spending time with them or that they look beautiful today. You can say it even when it is not true, but you need to do it with a genuine smile and from the heart.
2. Quality Time
To these people, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for them as they talk about their day or doing something together that they enjoy will make them feel truly special and loved.
This language is all about giving people your undivided attention when they want it. People with this language feel loved when you do things like go on walks or outings with them, give them your undivided attention while having a meal together, or simply sit with them and listen to what they have to say.
This one is pretty obvious when you give the person your undivided attention by spending time with them without interruptions or distractions. When was the last time you listened to what he has to say instead of just saying “uh-huh” and then just staring at your phone?
3. Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this one for being a gold-digger thing; the receiver of gifts just appreciates thoughtful presents that are picked with great consideration. This language is all about giving presents.
Not just any gift will do: people with this love language want thoughtful gifts that show you pay attention and care about them and the things they like. It’s not just about what’s in the present, but also the effort and thoughtfulness that went into choosing it.
This is the language of receiving gifts, especially those that are thoughtful and not expensive. This love language can develop as we grow older since it doesn’t require a lot of interaction. We all need to feel worthy and significant so getting the right gift from time to time shows appreciation for our partner.
4. Acts of Service
Actions speak louder than words. If this is your partner’s love language, unsolicited compliments mean little to nothing to them. Instead, they appreciate it when their spouse takes the car in for an oil change, or volunteers to pick up the groceries.
This language is about doing things for others to help them out. It could be cooking a meal, helping someone move, or even just washing the dishes all count as expressions of love in this language.
People with this language feel loved when you do these kinds of things for them. In this case when your partner does something for their beloved without being asked or expecting anything in return, then that’s a great way to show your affection and love.
Examples: picking up his favorite snack while shopping at the grocery store, making breakfast for them after cooking your dinner the night before. Letting your partner know that you appreciate these little acts of service is important too.
5. Physical Touch
If your partner’s love language is physical touch, they just crave your hugs, snuggles, kisses, and more. Don’t mistake this for being a sex thing though; even non-sexual touches like hand-holding, back rub, or having them sit on your lap will make them feel loved.
This language is about expressing affection with hugs, kisses, or other forms of physical contact. People with this language feel loved when you give them hugs, hold hands, sit close to them on the couch, or are physically intimate in some other way.
This is one of the most common love languages used in relationships. When someone gives or receives an unexpected hug or kiss, it can do wonders in a relationship. Don’t take physical touch for granted when it is one of your partner’s love languages.
How To Find Out Your Primary Love Language
One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to find out what love language you and your partner speak. Everyone has a primary way in which they most feel loved and struggle to express love when that mode isn’t being used.
If you do not know whether the primary love language you speak is physical touch, then there is a pretty good chance that it is. Most people seem to think that their primary love language is words of affirmation, so if this doesn’t sound like you, check the other languages and see which one feels more accurate.
If you want to learn how to find out your primary love language, there are several ways of doing so. You can determine your primary love language or you can work with a partner to identify the other’s primary love language.
- Ask a friend or family member what they think your love language might be.
- Practice self-reflective exercises that aim to identify your emotional needs. After identifying the five love languages, take some time to sit in silence and think about what you emotionally need from others. Prioritize which love language is most important to you and then ask yourself if there are any instances in your life when these needs were not met. These insights will help you determine your primary love language.
- Assess how you express and feel love through the different languages with your partner and close friends. Evaluate which language you tend to use most often, and ask yourself how it makes the recipient feel. Then do this for each of the five love languages; Over time, self-evaluation will help you determine your primary love language.
- Take an inventory of how well your partner speaks that language and how well you speak theirs. If there’s a big difference between the two, it will be difficult for you to understand each other.
What is My Partner’s Love Language?
The best way to discover your partner’s love language is by observing how he or she most often demonstrates it for you.
- Observe your loved one close and take note of the different ways he or she shows love. Does your partner do acts of service for you because s/he thinks that this is what will make you happy? Or does your loved one show affection by touching you in a way that makes you feel loved and cared for? Next, ask yourself which of these acts makes you feel most loved and appreciated.
- Try out different love languages with your partner. This might be a more risky move, but it’s just as simple. Try speaking in your loved one’s love language and see how s/he responds. If you are comfortable enough to do so, ask him or her which of the five love languages makes him or her feel most loved.
- Ask your partner outright which of the five love languages he or she prefers. This might sound too straightforward, but it’s probably the most accurate answer that you can get. If your loved one is willing enough to tell you, then s/he will feel loved when you respond in his or her love language. Your loved one might feel a little awkward and not know how to respond when you speak in his or her love language for the first time, but rest assured that s/he will be so happy and appreciative once s/he figures out what it is.
The problem with this, however, is that people are usually terrible at identifying their love languages. This is because we tend to focus on what makes us feel loved instead of considering how our partners may be feeling loved. If you want to know your partner’s love language, ask yourself how you feel when your partner communicates love in these ways.
For you to truly love someone, you must speak their primary love language; if you want to feel truly loved, you should also be speaking their primary love language.