What Are the Five Love Languages?

5 love languages

Verywell / Alison Czinkota

One of the most common relationship issues people face today is the struggle to express love in intentional and meaningful ways to someone else. Nearly everyone wants to show their partner that they care. Yet, many people struggle to do it in a way that speaks to their heart. If you find that this describes your situation, you may want to learn more about the Five Love Languages. History has shown that learning how your partner receives love will help you know the best way to demonstrate your love and caring.

Developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, an author and counselor, the Five Love Languages are:

Overview of the Five Love Languages

Although Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages, was originally written in 1992, it continues to help couples today, selling more than 12 million copies since it was first published.

Before writing the book, Dr. Chapman spent years taking notes with couples he was counseling when he recognized a pattern. What he discovered was that couples were misunderstanding one another and their needs.

After going through his notes, he discovered that there are five "love languages" that people may respond to.

The likelihood that your partner's love language is the same is unlikely. So, when couples have different primary languages, there are bound to be misunderstandings.

Conversely, if your partner learns to speak your love language, they often feel loved and appreciated, and ultimately happier in the relationship. If you are wondering what your love language is, try taking Dr. Chapman's 30-question quiz to see which love language is your dominant type.

Despite the fact that this theory has been around for nearly 30 years, it continues to resonate with people.

A Closer Look at the Love Languages

According to Dr. Chapman, there are five primary love languages that people speak. These include words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Here is an overview of the five love languages and how people feel loved through each of them.

Words of Affirmation

In simple terms, the words of affirmation love language is about expressing affection through spoken words, praise, or appreciation. When this is someone's primary love language, they enjoy kind words and encouragement. They also enjoy 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.

Quality Time

Love and affection are expressed through this love language when someone gives someone else their undivided attention. This means putting down the cell phone and turning off the tablet, making eye contact and actively listening. People with this love language are looking for quality over quantity. So, when you get together, they feel loved if you are present and focused on them. Make sure that you make eye contact, affirm what the other person is saying, and refrain from offering advice.

Physical Touch

A person with this love language feels loved through physical affection. Aside from sex, those who have physical touch as their primary love language feel loved when their partner shows physical affection in some way like holding their hand, touching their arm, or giving them a massage at the end of the day. Additionally, their idea of a perfect date might include cuddling on the couch with a glass of wine and a good movie. They simply want to be close to their partners physically.

Acts of Service

When someone's primary love language is acts of service, they feel loved and appreciated when people do nice things for them. Whether it's helping with the dishes or putting gas in the car, little acts of service go straight to the person's heart. They love when people do little things for them and often can be found doing little things for others.

Receiving Gifts

To a person whose love language is receiving gifts, gift-giving is symbolic of love and affection in their mind. They treasure not only the gift itself but also the time and effort the gift giver put into it. What's more, they do not necessarily expect large or expensive gifts, the love language receiving gifts is more what is behind the gift that appeals to them.

In other words, when you take the time to pick out a gift specifically for them, it communicates to them that you really know them. Additionally, people with this love language can often remember every little gift they have received from their loved ones because it makes such an impact on them.

How Relationships Benefit From Love Languages

We all express and feel love differently. Consequently, understanding those differences can make a serious impact on your relationship. In fact, according to Dr. Chapman, it is one of the simplest ways to improve your relationships. Here are some other ways that the five love languages can improve your relationship.

Promotes Selflessness

When you are committed to learning someone else's love language, you are focused on their needs rather than your own. And, this is the central premise of Dr. Chapman's theory. Couples should work to learn their partner's love language rather than trying to convince their partner to learn theirs.

Ideally, both people will want to express love in a way that is meaningful to the other. But the entire purpose of the love languages is that you would learn how to love your partner in a way that makes sense to them.

Creates Empathy

As couples learn more and more about how their partners experience love, they learn to empathize with someone who is different from them. It helps them step outside of themselves for a moment and take a look at what makes another person feel significant and loved.

Consequently, when couples are committed to learning and utilizing the love languages they increase their emotional intelligence and learn how to put someone else's needs above their own. Instead of speaking their own love language to their partner, they learn how to speak in a language that their partner will understand.

Maintains Intimacy

If couples regularly talk about what keeps their love tanks full, this creates more understanding—and ultimately intimacy—in their relationship. They not only learn more about one another, but they also connect with one another in deeper and more meaningful ways. And, when this happens, their relationship begins to feel more intimate.

Aids Personal Growth

Anytime someone is focused on something or someone outside of themselves, this leads to personal growth. Too many times society encourages people to become self-absorbed and unaware of anyone or anything outside of themselves. But because Dr. Chapman's five love languages require people to love others in ways that are outside their comfort zone, they are forced to grow and change.

Shares Love in Meaningful Ways

When couples start speaking one another's love language, the things they do for their partners not only become more intentional but they also become more meaningful. Part of this has to do with the fact that they are saying "I love you" in ways that make sense to their partner. And, when they do that, their partners feel content and happy.

Key Points to Remember

According to Chapman, the love languages also apply to your relationships with your kids, your co-workers, and even your friends. But, they may vary somewhat. For instance, you may prefer quality time, but with your sister, you prefer words of affirmation.

Your love language also can change occasionally. For instance, if you had a bad day at work, you may prefer a hug from your partner rather than an encouraging word. The key is to regularly communicate and ask what your partner needs to keep their love tank full. Then, put into practice exactly what your partner needs.

A Word From Verywell

Once you know each other's love language, you will see that it is easy to put it into action. Speaking your partner's love language just takes a little bit of effort and intentionality. Remember, healthy relationships aren't born, they're developed through attention and effort.

The good news is that you can enhance your relationship by learning your partner's love language and putting it into practice. And, if you both are committed to loving one another in the way that speaks to the other, you will find yourself not only deeper in love, but also in a happy and fulfilling relationship.

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