Understanding the 5 Love Languages

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

What comes to your mind when we think of ways to express love towards those we cherish? The most obvious answer would be to directly tell them that we love them. Some would say showing appreciation through gifts, while others feel loved when they spend quality time together. Whatever it is, they are all called love languages.

Our love language depends on our upbringing and personality. Not everyone expresses and receives love the same way; we have our own ways of loving. But first, let us learn what love language is and why is it important for us to know them.

What are Love Languages? 

We communicate love in different ways and receive love differently. Dr. Gary Chapman calls this The Five Love Languages. Drawing from his long experience with marriage counseling, Chapman’s helpful report states that the Five Love Languages are:

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

The Five Love Languages refers to the expression of love. All five are part of how we express love. But there is one that relates to us the most; that is our primary love language. It is not just about love between romantic partners. When you know how those dearest to you 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 Five Love Languages

It was revolutionary when Gary Chapman introduced the concept of a love language. It provided people with a better understanding of love. 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 nature of love. 

The love language theory enriches human existence in many ways. You become more selfless, empathetic, and understanding. Then you forge closer connections and make life easier, and you grow more mature through meaningful connections.

Promotes Selflessness

Dr. Chapman’s theory 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. A person’s love language differs; each person should understand others’ love 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 putting your loved one’s needs before your own. 

Learning and applying the five love languages increases your emotional intelligence and establishes a deeper connection with others. You learn to understand the depth of feelings in the people around you when you give importance to each other’s love languages.

More understanding and intimacy

If you and your partner regularly observe the love languages, your relationship will be richer and closer. You understand how they perceive love when you understand your partner’s love language. You achieve fuller intimacy as your connection deepens. It can be very beneficial to a happy relationship by understanding your partner’s love language.

Aids personal growth

You grow more when you are not focused on yourself. 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 give importance to your partner’s love language. Also, we all want to grow as a person, and one way of doing that is by understanding ourselves better. By understanding our way of expressing love, we will discover things about ourselves.

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 feel cherished and have a content and fulfilling relationship.

What are the Five Different Love Languages?

Acts of Service

Sometimes, all you need is a kind deed. A helping hand to relieve some stress in everyday 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 those dearest to you by taking burdens off their routine once in a while.

It can be as simple as cleaning the room of your partner 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 or guilt you into doing things you don’t want. Discuss what to do with your partner. Make love work with open communication.

Receiving Gifts

It isn’t about the cost of gifts, nor is it only appreciated during special occasions. 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 is about the expression of the great value one has for their loved one’s time and effort in choosing the most thoughtful gift.

It’s easy to misinterpret this love language as materialistic. But no, it’s about giving things and receiving gifts that help others feel loved. It symbolizes affection through thoughtful gifts. Gift-giving is a good way of showing that we care.

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. Just remember what things they yearn for.

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 partner whose love language is spending quality time. Give time out of your busy schedule to your partner, friends, and family. 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 those you love.

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

It can be challenging, especially in the time of lockdowns and pandemics, because it’s easier to feel disconnected. But your time is the most precious gift, and you can do it with the power of technology.

One example is to go on Zoom calls or just pick up the phone. Or you can pass the time with your partner by doing things together without any distractions. Make them special (children, 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, emotions, or simply paying attention to them.
  • Give your absolute focus when you spend time. Make eye contact and put your cell phone aside.

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 dearest. 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 a lot of things. It can affirm relationships. People with words of affirmation as their love language value verbal appreciation and knowing precisely what their partner appreciates about them. Say more I love you’s, thank you’s, you matter to me’s, and the like.

Show affection with a love of all things health and wellness by choosing what you say. It is much more than just saying I love you. Being mindful of your words is necessary to communicate love in clear and 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 when people can throw tantrums and say things harshly out of the moment. Accept people for who they are. Understand that you can’t 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

It is said that actions speak louder than words, and touch is love made physically. It’s raw and deep in intimacy. Physical affection can be powerful even through small gestures. 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 of 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. Physical touch people who speak this love language will feel your warmth and love even from away.
  • Talk about the need for touch. Be honest about how often and what type of physical touch you can give.

What Not To Do:

  • Be cold in your touches. Do not hurt people. Whenever you hold your dearest, 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 and Your Partner’s 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. Chapman. There you can answer an online quiz of ten or so questions to find your primary love language. This quiz also gives you exact percentages of the love languages you exhibit. Taking the test is not only helpful in learning about your love language but also to know more about why you react that way or prefer certain acts of love over others.

How to Apply the 5 Love Languages

Maintain healthy boundaries in relationships.

Be clear about 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 over-promise, and remember to only give consent when you and your partner are comfortable.

Take time to know people in your life.

Improve communication by speaking regularly with your loved ones and spending quality time with them. For your children, observe them and let them know you are there for them in whatever they need. If you have a significant other, set aside time to know their needs and desires. Commit yourself to being familiar with them. Even friends and acquaintances care about their day-to-day.

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 partner emotionally. Strengthen bonds with them. Help them in whatever trials they face. Communicate your feelings for them as much as possible.

In Summary

One’s primary love language differs from one person to another. One woman can have words of affirmation, while the other has quality time as their love language. Regardless of how your partner experiences love, you should take the time and make an effort to get to know their love language in order to avoid misunderstanding. Remember in relationships, you shouldn’t only be receiving love but should also be about giving love to your partner.

Your partner’s love language is their way to communicate how much they love you. Fulfilling acts that fall on your partner’s love language makes them feel more appreciated. An example can be as simple as verbal praises or something more like making special surprises.

Love languages differ based on our experiences, upbringing, and personality. Even if your loved ones have the easiest love language (physical touch or acts of service), pay attention to them still. Listen to them and have a meaningful conversation with them because more often than not there’s still a lot for you to discover about them.

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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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