The 5 Love Languages

People around the world give and receive love in different ways, and an understanding of these differences can help to foster a loving and long-lasting relationship. Oftentimes, relationships experience issues with miscommunication due to differences in the way each partner expresses and expects to receive their love. In response to this, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a New York Times bestselling book called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chapman explains that each person interprets and expresses love differently, as shaped by their personality and upbringing, and that a failure to recognize these differences can lead to partnership difficulties. By taking time to learn the different love languages, partners can better understand the best way to effectively express their love. It is important to note that people may relate to more than one of the love languages, but that each person generally has a single “primary” love language that rules over all the rest.

1. Words of Affirmation

People who encompass this love language value verbal compliments, affirmations and encouragement over all else. Backing kind words and sentiments such as “I love you” or “You look beautiful” with a genuine and kind demeanor means the world to people with this primary love language.  Simple statements such as these are essential to maintain a happy and healthy relationship. If your partner embodies this love language, try giving them a new compliment every day. Also, reassurance during times of hardship can really inspire and fuel them to keep working on the relationship.

2. Quality Time

This love language involves spending one-on-one time with your partner, whether it be going out and doing something enjoyable together or staying home and talking for hours (without distractions). People who identify with this love language value eye contact, good listening skills, undivided attention, no interruptions, positive body language, self-disclosure, and understanding.  If your partner complains that you never spend time with him/her or that you never listen, they may have quality time as their primary love language.  

3. Acts of Service

Acts of service, such as doing a partner’s chores or running an errand for them, equates to an act of love for people who embody this love language. Taking the time to do something that eases your partner’s burden shows them that you care about and understand their work load. On the contrary, leaving extra work for your partner or breaking commitments to them are especially heavy blows to people who have this as their primary love language.

4. Physical Touch

People who exemplify this love language value touch as the main source of showing love. Touch can range from a gentle and caring touch on the arm to kissing or sexual intercourse. Something as simple as cuddling up to your partner on the couch or playing ‘footsie’ at the dinner table can speak volumes about your love for them. If this is your partner’s primary love language, a caring embrace during times of hardship can help your partner more than talking it out with them.

5. Gifts

Those who embody this love language value receiving and giving material gifts as an act of love. These gifts are not dependent on cost; simple items such as your partner’s favorite candy or even a flower can help to brighten up their day and show them just how much you care. Its the thought behind the gift that counts, and for people with this as their primary love language, these gifts can act as a symbol of your love and affection.

What’s Your Love Language?

Now that you have learned about the different love languages, how can you find out which style you and your partner possess? When assessing your love language, it is important to ask yourself some questions. How do you generally express your love to your partner or friends and family? What bothers you the most in relationships? What do you tend to ask for or expect from your partner? By evaluating the answers to these simple questions, you can gain some insight into what love language you embody most. For the official Love Language quiz, click here. If you are in a relationship, it is also a great idea to find out your partner’s love language!

Notes About the Author

Dr. Gary Chapman is a renowned pastor, speaker, and author of 30 different books. He has spoken internationally about his beliefs on relationships and love from his experiences in couple’s counseling and his own marriage that has lasted over 45 years. His original book, The Five Love Languages, has since been created into a series that includes The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Languages of Apology. For more information on Dr. Gary Chapman, visit his website here.

Where Can I Get a Copy?

If you are interested in learning more about the five languages of love, you can find the book, e-book, and audio edition along with free study guides here. This link also shows you how you can get the book for just $5 by taking “The Love Language Challenge.”

Wrapping it All Up

It is important to recognize that not all people love in the same way, and these differences can lead to miscommunication. While some people express their love through acts of service, their partner might prefer quality time and think “Gee, I wish my partner would spend more time with me instead of always doing household chores.”  Although the partners have good intentions, the disconnect can cause problems in their relationship.  Recognizing and understanding the love languages in yourself and your loved ones can help you improve and maintain your relationships.

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Last Edited May 2013.