Which Language of Love Do You Speak?
You might have heard the term ‘language of love’. It’s It has been kicking around now for over two decades! But you might not know exactly what it means.
Think about what makes you feel loved. What it is that makes you really feel seen, cared for and understood? Now think about your partner, your husband/wife, your children, your closest family members and friends. What makes each of them feel loved?
That’s what Dr. Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, “The Five Languages of Love,” is all about. And there’s something to it. So much to it, in fact, that couples and families all over the world refer to ‘love languages’ now, as a way to form more fulfilling relationships.
According to Chapman, there are 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Personal Touch. While we may enjoy all these languages of love, each of us apparently have one central language of love, and a secondary one. Knowing our own language of love allows us to recognize what expression of love is most meaningful to us, and being able to convey the need for that expression to others. The key here is also that most of us assume that because we feel loved as a result of a certain ‘love language’, that we should express love to others that same way too. Basically, we tend to give love the way we prefer to receive it.
But with ‘love languages’, we learn this is often problematic in relationships. According to Chapman’s observation in over 30 years of couples counselling, learning the love language of those closest to us means tuning in to what it is they need uniquely to feel loved, rather than applying our own love language to them.
Let us get to know the love languages a little bit better.
1. Words of Affirmation
This language of love is exactly what it sounds like: feeling loved through the affirmative words. Being loved is being spoken to lovingly. Hearing “I love you”, or compliments and acknowledgements hold deep value. Similarly, negative words have a strong impact too. The people for whom this is the primary language experience words that are said to them with greater resonance than others.
2. Quality Time
This language of love is all about attention. Undivided, focused attention and presence. This comes in the form of being undistracted when sharing specific time together, listening well, and being there both unexpectedly and when you’ve said you would be. With this primary language, “to love them is to spend time with them”. Correlated, nothing makes these individuals feel more unloved than distraction and cancelled plans.
3. Receiving Gifts
This is not about materialism or monetary value, it’s just that for some of us, receiving a thoughtful, intentional, tangible symbol of one’s love is incredibly meaningful. The object, the gift, shows them that the person thought of them with depth. When they see the gift, it makes them think of the other person and their love for them. They find value in being able to visually see the love.
4. Acts of Service
Unsurprisingly, this is all about practical action. Actively being there, helping out and offering support is the ultimate expression of value and love. It’s about doing. Doing things you know they would like; doing the things they need done, doing the things that make things easier for them, without them having to ask. Feeling like they need to nag to get help, or ending up with more work to do because of a loved one, makes them feel unappreciated and unloved.
5. Physical Touch
This love language is all about the affirmation of affection. Making physical contact in various ways (not just sexual), small and large, throughout a day, are the major indicators of feeling loved and seen. Without touch, they feel unloved.
It is important to note again that just because each of us have a ‘preferred’ love language, it doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy or shouldn’t express the other ones! Which one do you relate most to after reading this list? Do you notice that you often use your preferred language to express love to others?
What do you think? Do the love languages make sense to you? Let us know your love language in the comments, and whether learning more about them ends up helping you build stronger relationships!