Love Languages: What are they and how can I find mine?
Written by Katherine Cooke
Apparently, it takes more than just a handful of dates, a mutual appreciation for a niche science fiction show and undeniable chemistry in order to have a happy and successful long-term relationship – you also actually have to talk to each other.
A healthy relationship requires open and honest communication.
In a relationship, people’s styles of thinking are different, and they have different expectations and needs. People also have different ways of expressing affection and different ways they feel loved.
‘Love languages’ is the term given to the 5 ways people express love. It was originally coined by Dr Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.
In 1992, Chapman had started to pick up on a trend he saw in the arguments of the couples he was mediating. One person would do their best to show affection only to see their efforts go unappreciated, whilst the other couldn’t see what they were meant to be appreciating and just wished their partner did the one thing that they asked them to do.
From this, Chapman found the route of the problem to be that people ultimately had different definitions of love, and from this he came up with the 5 love languages.
Chapman’s book was originally targeting married heterosexual Christian couples. There is no long-winded scientific explanation; the basic theory makes sense because it is relatable. Of course, we all express affection in different ways. The 5 love languages are just a method of being able to label these ways to help understand people a little better.
What are the 5 love languages?
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
A person whose primary love language is words of affirmation sees words as the ultimate validation.
If you partner’s love language is this, how do you speak it?
They value verbal acknowledgments of affection.
Tell them you love them, you appreciate them, tell them they look extraordinarily attractive today and you cannot physically cope, comment on their latest Instagram post, and so on.
When you notice good things, say them often.
ACTS OF SERVICE
A person whose primary love language is acts of service sees taking on burdens and obligations for someone else as the most loving thing a person could do.
How do I speak this love language? It is not necessarily about doing the chores, you anticipate what would make their life easier and do it. Actions speak louder than words.
It might be easier to ask them directly what they need as this love language means different things to different people.
It is not as materialistic as it sounds.
A person whose primary love language is receiving gifts sees a gift as a symbol of the time someone has spent thinking about them and what would make them happy.
They will remember special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays, so remember them and get them something thoughtful.
It doesn’t matter how much money was spent or whether the gift was bought or found – maybe after a date or trip take a memento home or buy them a “just because” gift. Small things matter.
This is the most common of the 5 love languages.
People whose love language is quality time feel the most loved when someone simply makes time for them.
If this is your partner’s main love language, the most important thing is carving out intentional space in your schedule to spend time together, whether this is planning a weekly date night, or spending time together having a nice chat without the distraction of TV or swiping through TikTok.
For people whose love language is physical touch, feeling connected to their partner is crucial in a relationship. It is the most straightforward of the 5 love languages.
‘Physical touch’ doesn’t necessarily mean lots of sex or over the top PDA, it might just mean hand holding or sitting squished up together on the sofa.
How do you identify your love language?
Firstly, think about how you like to give and receive love. Which one of the 5 resonates with you most?
Ask yourself ‘When I want to show affection, how do I do it?’
2. Secondly, think what makes you feel most loved and cared for.
Do you feel closest to your partner when they do something helpful? Do you crave physical affection from them? Is knowing you can rely on someone the aspect of a relationship that makes you feel most loved?
Ask yourself ‘What is the thing that will make me feel loved and cherished most in a relationship?’
There are also lots of fun and simple quizzes online which test you on the 5 love languages, to see which one may be best suited to you!
What is the value of love languages in a relationship?
Love languages are unfortunately not the be-all-and-end-all solution to a happy and successful long-term relationship, but they can be a useful relationship tool to improve how we communicate and express ourselves to each other. It is a starting point for understanding each other just a little bit better.