By Lauren Grossbach, LMFT and Melody Smith, BA
The 5 Love Languages come from this book by Gary Chapman. The book describes how each person gives and receives love in a particular “language”.
As humans, we are wired for connection.
Our emotional needs from childhood follow us into adulthood, influencing our relationships. Affirming relationships can bring joy and fulfillment. Unhealthy connections can bring pain and trauma. When your partner doesn’t understand your Love Language, you feel hurt and ignored. You may even try to give subtle hints about what you really want. If these hints don’t work, you feel as though your partner isn’t listening. You end up frustrated and disappointed. The good news is that a conversation about your Love Languages can help end this cycle.
Deep down, we all long to be loved. We also long to provide love to people we care about. However, you experience love differently than your friend, parent, child, or partner. Decoding the different ways to communicate love can help you choose gestures that will most resonate with the loved ones in your life. It will also help you ask for exactly what you need. Whether you’re single, in a long-term relationship, questioning your next move, or just focusing on your child(ren), The 5 Love Languages can enhance all of your relationships. So how does it work?
Love Languages represent the ways in which we feel most appreciated. Your relationships will improve when you learn to speak The Love Languages of others.
This can benefit you too: ask others to reciprocate by expressing love in your Love Language! This kind of reciprocation allows for more emotional fulfillment and belonging in your relationships. Choosing to nurture love by learning to express it effectively can strengthen important relationships and keep emotional love strong.
Here are the five ways to understand and express love:
- Words of affirmation
Those with words of affirmation as a Love Language value feeling appreciated through verbal acknowledgements, or using words to show affection. Written and spoken words such as “I’m proud of you”, compliments, encouragement, and verbal support make individuals with this Love Language feel understood and appreciated. Words of affirmation can be expressed in a variety of ways such as handwritten notes, texting, or speaking in person.
- Quality time
People who connect with this Love Language feel most adored when you set aside intentional time to spend together. They value undivided, dedicated attention and appreciate when full presence and active listening (with eye contact) are prioritized. Cultivating a moment of intense connection, uninterrupted conversations, and 1:1 time can foster meaningful and intentional quality time.
- Acts of service
If this is your primary Love Language, you value when others lend a hand to help with tasks and ease stress. Acts of Service is a Love Language where making coffee and doing errands (i.e., picking up dinner or grocery shopping) make you feel deeply cherished. People of this Love Language prefer to be shown how they are appreciated. Anything to make life easier and more comfortable, no matter how big or small, sends a clear and loving message to those with this Love Language.
Gifts show love through visual symbols. Don’t worry! A gift is not about it’s monetary value, but rather the symbolism behind the gift. It’s more about the thought and the emotions they evoke, such as feeling seen and valued. Gifts consider a loved one’s values, interests and desires. Carefully listening to those with this Love Language can give clues on picking out an appropriate gift. Something as simple as a loved one’s favorite treat or texting an emoji that reflects their favorite things/experience can make their emotional love tank full.
- Physical Touch
If physical touch is your Love Language, you feel loved through physical signs of affection. Physical touch can be both intimate and non-intimate. For those in intimate relationships, kissing, cuddling, and holding hands serve as a powerful emotional connector. When it comes to family and friends, an energetic fist-bump can make you feel a sense of warmth and connection.
Whether it be a friendship, family relationship, or growing relationship with a partner, The 5 Love Languages are a worthwhile concept to implement. Want to know your Love Language? Take the quiz here.