It might come as a surprise to some, but not everyone expresses or receives love in the same way. Love is a complex emotion – to say the least – that is expressed and experienced in many different ways. Dr. Gary Chapman, a renowned marriage counselor and author, first identified five distinct love languages that people use to express and receive love in his 1992 book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. They are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
Understanding your love language and that of your partner is crucial to building and maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Each love language is unique and indicative of different individual needs and emotional preferences. Someone may feel most loved when their partner does something thoughtful for them (acts of service), while another may prefer to receive a heartfelt compliment (words of affirmation).
Below, we explore the five love languages, their descriptions, signs that they may apply to you, and how to utilize them. By understanding each love language, you can create a deeper and more meaningful connection with your partner by recognizing their romantic needs. Whether you are in a long-term relationship or just starting out, knowing how to identify your love language and that of your partner can help you build a strong foundation for a fulfilling and loving partnership.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are verbal expressions of love, appreciation, and admiration. People who value this love language thrive on hearing compliments, kind words, and supportive messages from their partner. They are most likely to feel loved and cherished when their partner expresses affection verbally.
Signs that words of affirmation may be your love language:
- You crave verbal reassurance and encouragement from your partner.
- You are more likely to remember positive words spoken to you than actions taken on your behalf.
- You appreciate it when your partner expresses their love and appreciation through notes or texts.
How to nurture words of affirmation:
- Be specific and sincere in your compliments and praise.
- Express gratitude for your partner’s actions and efforts.
- Encourage and support your partner through difficult times with kind and uplifting words.
Acts of Service
Acts of service are actions that are performed to show love and care for your partner. People who value this love language prefer that their partner’s actions demonstrate their love and commitment, such as helping with household chores, running errands, or doing something thoughtful without being asked.
Signs that acts of service may be your love language:
- You feel most loved and appreciated when your partner helps you with practical tasks.
- You may feel overwhelmed when you are required to do everything by yourself.
- You prefer to express your love by doing things for your partner.
How to nurture acts of service:
- Offer to help with tasks without being asked.
- Take responsibility for tasks that your partner usually does.
- Do something thoughtful for your partner that makes their life easier.
Receiving gifts refers to physical tokens of affection such as flowers, jewelry, or thoughtful presents. People who value this love language feel loved and appreciated when their partner gives them thoughtful and meaningful gifts.
Signs that receiving gifts may be your love language:
- You appreciate thoughtful and meaningful gifts from your partner.
- You may feel disappointed if your partner forgets your special occasions or does not give you gifts.
- You may cherish sentimental objects and hold onto them as a reminder of your partner’s love.
How to nurture receiving gifts as a love language:
- Pay attention to your partner’s likes and interests and buy gifts that are meaningful and thoughtful.
- Give surprise gifts that show your partner you are thinking of them.
- Make the gift-giving process special and meaningful by wrapping the present in a thoughtful way or writing a heartfelt note.
Quality time refers to giving your undivided attention your partner, often while doing an activity that one or both of you enjoy. People who value this love language feel most loved and appreciated when they are spending time with their partner and enjoying meaningful experiences together.
Signs that quality time may be your love language:
- You feel most connected to your partner when you are spending time together.
- You prefer having meaningful conversations and creating memories with your partner.
- You may feel neglected if your partner spends too much time on their phone or other distractions.
How to nurture quality time:
- Schedule time for regular date nights or shared activities.
- Engage in activities that your partner enjoys and that allow you to connect and create meaningful experiences.
- Listen actively and engage in meaningful conversations with your partner.
People who value this love language feel most loved and appreciated when they receive physical touch from their partner. Physical touch is an intimate and powerful way to express love and affection and connect with each other.
Signs that physical touch may be your love language:
- You crave physical contact with your partner, such as holding hands or cuddling.
- You may feel anxious or distant when physical touch is absent.
- You may feel more comfortable expressing love through physical touch than words or other actions.
How to nurture physical touch:
- Make an effort to touch your partner affectionately every day, even if it’s just a brief hug or kiss.
- Engage in physical activities together, such as going for a walk or taking a dance class.
- Be aware of your partner’s comfort level and preferences when it comes to physical touch.
Understanding your love language and that of your partner is a crucial part of building and maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. By identifying your love language, you can communicate with your partner more effectively and work together to ensure both of your needs are being met. Because everyone expresses and receives love differently, being aware of the five love languages is a helpful tool in any relationship.