A few years back, I was given a personal development book that changed the way I look at relationships. The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, examines how each person in a relationship expresses and receives love. He calls these modes of showing and receiving love, languages. And by knowing our own language, you can be better at expressing to your loved ones how you receive affection. In turn, we then know what language to use with our loved ones so they feel loved and appreciated.
Over the years, I’ve mentioned this book to friends and I’m constantly surprised by how many people have not only read it but have taken the online test to determine their love language and/or their partners’.
Similar to that saying, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. For example, what may make me happy in a relationship may not be what my best friend finds acceptable. And what works for her, may be annoying to me. Each person places higher values on certain things within a relationship, but it comes down to knowing what is important to you and your partner that can be the determining factor in making communication work.
Dr. Chapman breaks down these languages into 5 categories:
Words of Affirmation: Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important— hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.
Acts of Service: Can helping with homework really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. When others serve you out of love (and not obligation), you feel truly valued and loved.
Receiving Gifts: Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are heartfelt symbols to you of someone else’s love and affection for you.
Quality Time: In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Whether itʼs spending uninterrupted time talking with someone else or doing activities together, you deepen your connection with others through sharing time.
Physical Touch: A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to you.
To determine what your love language is, take the test on their site. I did the test about 6 years ago and I just re-did it. My love language before was a tie between two categories. This time I scored higher in one particular language, which I hope translates to being more self-aware. Nonetheless, understanding how I show and interpret love helps me strengthen the bonds I have formed and the ones I’m about to form.
Take the online test and let me know what you think of the love language you are.