5 Love Languages
What makes you feel loved?
When someone spends focused time with you? When someone gives you a gift? When someone encourages you or gives you compliments? When someone hugs you or holds your hand? When someone does your laundry or cooks a meal for you?
Over 20 years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a New York Times bestselling book called The Five Love Languages. All these years later, Dr. Chapman’s concept of five love languages has expanded to include not only marriage relationships, but parents’ relationships with their children and teenagers and even an edition for single people that concentrates on relationships with parents, friends, and co-workers.
So what are the five love languages?
Dr. Chapman explains it this way, “My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.” So the way you speak and understand emotional love is your primary love language.
If you understand how your partner (or your child or your parent or your best friend) speaks and understands and receives love, then you can make sure you’re showing love in the way that person primarily feels loved. And if you know how you most feel loved, you can tell your partner (or child or parent or best friend), so that person can show love to you in the way you primarily feel loved. Obviously, you can’t read another person’s mind, but understanding the way he expresses and feels loved is a peek inside his mind. And it’s one of the simplest ways to improve a relationship.
In a nutshell, the five love languages are —
- Words of Affirmation – Using words to affirm someone — compliments and words of affection, words of praise or appreciation. This might be a verbal compliment or a love note, a text message saying what you love about someone or a simple “You’re awesome” written on a dry erase board.
- Acts of Service – Actions speak louder than words — showing love rather than simply telling it. What does this look like? Maybe taking your person’s car through the car wash or carrying their trash to the curb. It might be doing a chore he especially hates or running an errand to save her time.
- Receiving Gifts – Gifts are a symbol of love. These might be major gifts, like an expensive thing your loved one has been wanting. Or it could be picking up his favorite soda or her favorite lotion the next time you’re at the store.
- Quality Time – Giving someone your undivided attention, spending time together. The key to this is undivided attention and quality time. Put away your phones and look at each other. Turn off the television and look at each other. Plan time away together – a weekend hiking trip or a day at the beach, a week of vacation in the summer or a block of time together around the holidays. Play a game together, go on a walk, spend just ten minutes talking about your day and reconnecting.
- Physical Touch – Feeling affection through physical touch. When we think of showing or experiencing love through physical touch, our minds usually jump straight to sex. But this love language isn’t necessarily about sex. And experiencing love through physical touch isn’t tied to a person’s sex drive. This also doesn’t equate to a lot of PDA (public displays of affection).
If physical touch is your love language, you can experience or feel love through hand-holding, hugging, sitting close to your loved one or through a gentle touch on the arm or a simple shoulder squeeze. If your boyfriend or girlfriend’s love language is physical touch, that doesn’t mean you have to have to sex. You can still help your partner feel loved in his or her love language in other ways. You can respect your own physical boundaries and show love to your boyfriend or girlfriend.
As you read that list, you might think, “Oh yeah, that really makes me feel loved!” Or maybe a couple of the languages seem to really speak love to you. Dr. Chapman’s website offers a free quiz to help you figure out your love language.
Knowing what makes you feel loved and what doesn’t particularly make you feel loved can help as you navigate a relationship. And knowing how the people in your life understand and express love can help improve your relationships.
Maybe your Valentine’s gift to yourself or your loved one is taking the quiz, discovering your love languages, and sharing the quiz results. You deserve to feel loved!