Understanding the Five Love Languages
Updated: Apr 9
Whether it's family, friends, or romance, relationships are all like plants. They need attention to live. When a plant doesn't get the necessary water and sunlight it needs, it dies. Relationships are similar in that if they don't receive what they need, like good communication, trust, or commitment, they will not last.
Lasting relationships take an intentional commitment over time. When you’re not on the same page as your partner or actively trying to understand them and meet them halfway, keeping your love alive can feel intimidating, and sometimes even impossible. The simple truth is that our relationships grow more when we understand each other. Everyone gives and receives love differently and it’s important to understand how to communicate love based on these differences. This is true for all types of relationships from married couples, to siblings, to coworkers, and friends.
These different types of love are called love languages and everyone has one (or more). Let’s take a closer look at each of the love languages and how they communicate love in their relationships.
Words of Affirmation
This love language is just as it sounds. It's all about positively expressing your feelings and emotion for someone verbally (or written). If you’re not the best at professing your emotions to others vocally, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top Shakespearian monologue style, just a simple “you look really nice today” or “I really enjoy spending time with you” will suffice for your loved one.
Words carry a lot of power for those with this love language. An “I love you” or “I appreciate you” will go such a long way, but negative, hurtful, or insulting comments will go just as far if not further. Someone with this love language may forgive someone for their hurtful comments, but they will never forget them. These words will cloud their minds and affect how they see themself.
One of the most important aspects of words of affirmation is being genuine with the words you speak to them. People who prefer this love language care more about the intentions behind the words you’re saying to them versus the actual words. If you are saying things just to say them, they will notice.
Acts of Service
If you’re big into 'actions speak louder than words', then this may be your love language. Acts of service are expressed by doing things that you know the other person would like. Giving them a ride or helping someone with a difficult project or assignment are all acts of service. They require some thought, time, and effort. All of these things should be done with positivity and with others' happiness in mind to be considered an expression of love.
Actions out of obligation or with a negative tone are not done out of love and not to be considered an act of service. Actions that go above and beyond help them feel your love for them. Anything that can make them feel appreciated or that can help make their life easier will speak volumes to them. However, the most powerful acts to those with this love language are those that are unplanned or done without asking.
Having this love language does not mean you're greedy or materialistic, it just means that a meaningful or thoughtful gift makes you feel loved and appreciated so you enjoy getting gifts for others, as well. Something as simple as picking up a pint of your loved one's favorite ice cream after a long work week or buying them flowers can make a huge impact.
The difference between this love language and the previous one is that acts of service have more to do with an action, whereas receiving gifts has more to do with a physical item. Cooking someone their favorite meal would be acts of service while buying someone their favorite dessert would be receiving gifts.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the same can be said about those little items you present to your loved one. One of those gifts may hold a lot of sentimental value or it lets them know you were thinking of them. Little or small, a gift received by someone of this love language will be cherished and remembered forever.
Like words of affirmation, this love language is pretty much as it sounds. No TV. No phones. No distractions. It's all about undivided attention. People who prefer this appreciate spending one on one time with others who are also dedicating their time and effort to them. Every time you cancel a date, postpone time together or aren’t present during your time together, it can be extremely hurtful to your loved one as it can make them feel like you care more about other things or activities than them.
Having this love language does not make you inconsiderate of other people's time or attention-seeking, it just means that you value true and wholesome undivided attention when with your loved ones. You give others your undivided attention and all you want is the same in return.
Physical touch is very impactful for those in this love language. They aren’t necessarily into over-the-top PDA, but they do feel more connected and safe in a relationship by holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc. If physical touch is your loved one's love language, they won’t necessarily feel unloved without you being on them 24/7, but they won't feel as close to you as they want.
If you or your partner has physical touch as their primary love language, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Ask each other what types of non-sexual physical touch you each like best and what other types make you uncomfortable. Physicality is an important part of any relationship so don’t avoid this conversation.
Everyone gives and receives love differently and it is important to understand the love languages of others, as well as your own in order to effectively communicate with one another. When one party is feeling unloved or stressed, knowing what could ease those feelings is everything. Those around you are not the only ones you can practice your love language on - it's important to practice your love language on yourself:
Words of Affirmation - Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself things like, "I'm proud of you," and "you look nice today."
Acts of Service - Give yourself a break and do something nice for yourself. Clean your room, cook your favorite meal, anything you want!
Quality Time - Take yourself on a personal date. Write in a journal, meditate, do yoga or anything to tune into yourself.
Receiving Gifts - Treat yourself! Buy the shoes you've been wanting or buy yourself flowers.
Physical Touch - love and cherish your body by resting, moisturizing, taking care of your skin, and eating well.
To find out your love language, take this quiz and comment your results below!