Understanding the 5 Love Languages

Get inspired to nurture your relationships and become a better person by understanding and applying the Love Languages in your life.

Love comes to us in different ways. Ti Amo. Saranghae. Aishiteru. I love you. Even how we say our love varies depending on our culture. Our language of love depends on our upbringing and personality.

We give and receive love differently. It could be as simple as hearing words of love and appreciation. There is also the cliche of giving gifts to shower love. You could also spend time with your loved ones, helping them out with their needs. And of course, you can offer intimacy through touches.

Once you know how people recognize love, that is a start towards better relationships. You understand your loved ones better. Then you help them get what they need when they need it. And you will interact more meaningfully with others. Learn to be selfless, empathetic, and sincere.

Understanding the Love Languages is key to Jesus’ commandment: “Love one another as I loved you.”

What are Love Languages? 

The way we find love in our lives differs. Dr. Gary Chapman acknowledges in his book, The 5 Love Languages. We communicate love in different ways. The love language refers to the expression of love. Drawing from his long experience with marriage counseling, Chapman states that the 5 Love Languages are:

  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Words of Affirmation 
  • Physical Touch

All five are part of how we love. They are also the many different aspects of a loving relationship. But there is one that relates to us the most. When you know how your loved ones communicate love, you will understand them better. You start to pay attention to their needs. And give them support in the way they need it.

Importance of the Concept of 5 Love Languages

When Gary Chapman introduced the concept of love languages, it was revolutionary. Originally, psychologists discussed love in a banal way. Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychology, even drew upon Greek myths to tell of the perverse nature of love. So the 5 Languages are integral in helping people understand the real natures of love. 

The concept of love languages enriches human life in many ways. You become more selfless, empathetic, and understanding. Then you forge closer connections. And you grow more mature through meaningful relationships.

Promotes Selflessness

Dr. Chapman emphasizes the value of selflessness in love languages. It’s not about knowing your love language. You should take care of your loved one’s needs. Each person should understand others’ loved languages to provide better support. Love others by understanding how they communicate love. 

You learn empathy

As you learn more about how each person experiences love, you acknowledge differences. Acknowledging these differences makes you more emotionally mature. You step out of your comfort zone. You commit yourself to put your loved one’s needs before your own. 

Learning and applying the love languages increases your emotional intelligence. You learn to understand the depth of feelings in the people around you.

More understanding and intimacy

If you and your loved ones regularly observe the love languages, your relationship will be richer and closer. You understand how they perceive love. You achieve fuller intimacy as your connection deepens. Truth drives your love here. 

Aids personal growth

You grow more when you are not focused on yourself. No more studying your navel. You grow in your personhood as you get out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s difficult, it’s necessary to do. Accept that no man lives by himself. We are all responsible for others. 

You learn more soft skills such as diplomacy when you let go of your desires. Focus on what needs to be done for your relationship. You change for the better when you practice the love language of your beloved.

More meaningful interactions

When you communicate with your loved one’s love language, you live with more intent. You pour love into every time, word, and action. You take care of how you speak and act so you don’t hurt others. When you do all things with love, you will have content and happy relationships.

What are the 5 Different Love Languages?

People love in different ways. Here are the different love languages. Learn how to understand and use them in your life. Use them to make more meaningful relationships. Even during a pandemic.

Acts of Service

Sometimes, all you need is a kind deed. A helping hand to relieve some stress in life. To serve others is an act of love that Jesus himself practiced in his ministry. So the love language of acts of service is a fascinating manifestation of love. You support your loved ones by taking burdens off their routine once in a while.

It can be as simple as cleaning the room of your partner working from home. Or cooking comfort food for your kids. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just do it with love. 

What To Do: 

  • Plan out tasks based on what needs to be done. Discern your roles in your relationship. Who does which task? Inquire about the tasks they need assistance with. 
  • Observe your loved one. Predict what they want you to do. Surprise them with meaningful activities. Get familiar enough to know which actions would show them the most love.

What Not To Do:

  • Be treated like a doormat. Do not let others walk on you nor guilt you into doing things you don’t want. Discuss what to do with your loved ones. Make love work with open communication.

Receiving Gifts

It isn’t about the cost of gifts. It’s about receiving things that make one feel appreciated. What matters is that the gift is given with sincerity and love. It’s love in physical form.

It’s easy to misinterpret this love language as materialistic. But no, it’s about giving things that help others feel loved. It symbolizes affection. Such gifts provide a physical reminder of our relationships.

What To Do:

  • Pay attention to things that can visually represent your love. From personalized items to items of their particular hobbies, make sure that these things are special to the person.
  • Note what they like to mention. Even small things that they say they need. Listen to your loved ones. Just remember what things they yearn for. Until the day you can fulfill those desires.

What Not To Do:

  • Get suckered into buying gifts for a small fortune. The best gifts usually don’t require money. Make sure that your gift symbolizes something in your relationship.

Quality Time

Time is sacred, as valuable as gold. Most of the time, just being there is enough to show your love. Pay attention to your loved ones. Give time out of your busy schedule to your partner, friends, and families. Do things together. In some ways, the love languages of acts of service and quality time are identical. What differentiates the two is the undivided attention you give to your loved ones.

Quality time is all about focusing your time and efforts on the people dear to you. For people with this love language, they need to feel your attentiveness. Value them with your time. 

It can be challenging, especially in the time of lockdowns and pandemics. But your time is the most precious gift. And you can do it with the power of technology.

Go on Zoom calls. And just pick up the phone. Or for your loved ones with you, you can pass the time in doing things together without any distractions. Make them special (kids, partners, family, and friends) by prioritizing them even in small bites of your day.

What To Do:

  • Plan out how long and intimate you can spend time with your loved one. Be mindful of what moments you can turn into memories to cherish. It could be shared activities, heartfelt conversations, and emotions.
  • Give your absolute focus when you spend time. That’s the essence of quality time.

What Not To Do:

  • Be indifferent. This phenomenon is stonewalling. If left unattended, you risk falling out of love. You also risk resentment and hatred overpowering the love in your relationship.
  • Lie. Always be open to your loved ones. Even if it’s difficult, fight for clear engagement and communication. Be frank about your feelings. Get upfront to prevent misunderstandings. 

Words of Affirmation

Kind words matter. Be careful how you speak because they can convey love. It can affirm relationships. For people with this love language, they value verbal appreciation. This is a literal love language. Here you show affection by choosing what you say. Being mindful of your words is necessary to communicate love in clear, impactful means. 

What To Do:

  • Take note of what words convey kindness and sympathy. How can you encourage your loved ones? Discern how to relate them. Look at their experiences. Make sure that you mean everything you say. Listen to them too. 
  • Take care of what you say. Whether it’s through texts, calls, or in-person conversations. All your words impact people.

What Not To Do:

  • Forget childishness. There are times that people can throw tantrums. And say things harsh out of the moment. Accept people for who they are. Understand that you can force kindness out of people. You can’t make them conform to what you want them to say. Forgive people who spew out hurtful words. Because it is equally possible that you can hurt others that way too.

Physical Touch

Touch is love made physical. It’s raw and deep in intimacy. Being tactile with affection is necessary because it shows how much you care. Depending on your relationship, you can be intentional in the way you touch people. It could be everything from patting one’s back or kissing. It’s being ready to offer your shoulder to cry on. Keep them assured with your presence.

What To Do:

  • Observe how much they try to touch you. This frequency indicates how they want to be touched. Express the same physical intimacy as they do with you.
  • Give them a personal item. This can help them feel your warmth and touch even from away.
  • Talk about the need for touch. Be honest about how often and what type of touches you can give.

What Not To Do:

  • Be cold in your touches. Do not hurt people. Whenever you hold your loved ones, make sure that you convey warmth in every gesture. You don’t need public displays of affection. Just show your fondness with soft, sincere touches.

How to Find Your Love Language

You can refer to the descriptions of the five love languages above. Or for better accuracy, go to the Love Languages Quiz on the official website of Dr. Gary Chapman. There you can answer ten or so questions to find your primary love language. This quiz also gives you exact percentages of the love languages you exhibit.

The Common Love Language

According to the popular dating app Hinge, the most common love language is quality time. At work, it’s different. According to a study by Surveymonkey, the top love languages at work are Receiving Gifts (33%) and Words of Affirmation (32%). 

Workers love getting tangible rewards for their hard work. They also like to receive praise and public recognition. Unlike other relationships, quality time is not that important for workers, especially as it reminds them of work.

Criticisms of the 5 Love Languages

The love languages became a cultural phenomenon. It is a core concept of how we understand the different experiences in love. However, as much as it has helped human relationships, it also has its fair share of critics.

It became a personality test

The love languages have become an inane personality test. People boast of their self-identified love languages. It has become as banal and self-absorbed as zodiac signs. Chapman states that it is not about your love language. It’s finding and understanding the love languages of your loved ones. You express your love to them based on how they understand love. The gist is to adapt your behavior to support their needs. 

Another misconception is that you can force people to love you the way you want. It is a relationship tool to harmony. It is a bridge of understanding wherein you should balance each other’s needs.

Not inclusive to nuanced differences

The love languages do not account for the complexity of the human person. It puts people into a box. Regardless of the context, people express affection every day in different ways. Many psychologists say that Chapman’s love languages are just a normal part of healthy relationships.

Love languages also should not be the exclusive determinant of love. Not everyone can offer that. Abuse victims, for instance, find it hard to give loving touches or words of affection. 

Not the solution for happiness in relationships

The love languages are not a be-all, end-all for relationships. It’s simply a starter. It is all about being attentive to your loved ones. And they ideally do the same for you. Understanding love languages is key to knowing your loved one. 

After finding what they need, ask yourself. What values does he or she live by? What about history and experiences? What are their dreams? Use the love languages to guide you on how to improve the relationship. Then slowly grow your relationship into one where you accept everything in the person. 

How to Apply the 5 Love Languages in Real Life

The love languages are useful principles in navigating relationships. Here are five tips on how you can apply them in your life.

Maintain healthy boundaries in relationships

Be clear of what you can give. Depending on the love languages of people dear to you, be frank in how much affection you can offer. Do not overpromise. 

Take time to know people in your life

Communicate regularly with your loved ones. For your children, observe them and let them know you are there for them in need. If you have significant others, set aside time to know their needs and desires. Commit yourself to be familiar with them. Even for friends and acquaintances, care about their life.

Show loved ones love in ways they want to be loved

Once you know their love languages, express your love in these ways. Keep in mind your limitations. Even in the smallest ways, make sure that you show people that you care about them. Give them support in ways they can understand.

Make sure that no one feels lonely in life

Especially during this pandemic, we need to make sure that no one suffers alone. Connect with your loved ones emotionally. Strengthen bonds with them. Help them in whatever trials they face. Communicate your feelings for them as much as possible.

In Summary

The love languages are the different ways we communicate love. These ways are the different experiences of love we have. It can be simple as verbal praises or complex as making special surprise experiences for your loved one.

Love languages differ based on our experiences, upbringing, and personality. To use them efficiently in real life, you need to know your loved ones. Pay attention to them. Listen to their needs. Be upfront about what and how much you can give. Then always live with meaningful interactions – in word, thought, and deed.

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Alex Shute
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.

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