What are the 5 love languages and what can they teach you?

By Harriet Piercy

Published Oct 15, 2020 at 01:48 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

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Love is complex, to say the least. It comes and goes differently for every person, and at the same time, love is fundamentally constant, never leaving or arriving but simply showing itself in fluctuating waves. They are all significantly different in strength, from platonic to romantic love, to the love you feel for something or someone you admire, a best friend, even to a pet or a place, for example the love you have for a place could feel far stronger than for an ex lover you went there with in the past. Love also evolves over time, which doesn’t mean it loses its strength. Quite the contrary in some cases, in the early days it may be a whirlwind of loud passion and excitement, later morphing into an intimate and silent bond wearing nothing but comfort. Love is a language, either mutually understood or not between relationships. How well do we acknowledge the differing languages of love or understand them?

Love is always a two way street, in a sense a place gives you a feeling in return, so does a person. If it is not a two way street, it’s more like an infatuation. So a love language is the giving and receiving of an expression of love and the way you wish for that same expression to be returned. According to marriage counselor Gary Chapman, who defined the concept of love languages in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, there are primary, secondary and more love languages we should all be aware of.

What are the five love languages?

Each person usually has one primary love language (the thing that makes them feel loved), then one or two secondary languages as well, that are more on the side lines, but still important. The five are:

Words of affirmation

If this is one of your love languages, it means that you appreciate verbal communication like compliments, words of support and encouragement. For example, statements like “I appreciate you being here for me through this” or “You look beautiful today” and “I love the way you smile.” There are hit and misses between these languages and how they relate to each other. Someone who loves to receive words of affirmation might forget to express love through actions rather than words, and they might assume you know that they love you because of course, you’ve told them you do. This is where different love language speakers sometimes clash.

Quality time

This is when you want your partner to set time aside and give you undivided attention, during meal times for example, you want the both of you to store away your phones and have conversations together. A partner can upset someone who has this love language by leaving the room when they’re being present, or not set aside and plan time or activities.

Receiving gifts

Sometimes people want physical gifts, small or large, to be reminded that they are loved. Especially the little things in fact—something you said you liked in a passing comment. This could be leaving sticky notes at random for your partner to find, or your favourite chocolate bar waiting for you when you get home from work. A book they thought you might like, and more of these sweet attentions. For someone who has this love language, a last minute pick me up gift from the station will be translated into their partner not caring.

Acts of service

This is when you want your partner to lend a helping hand, like opening the door for you, carrying your bags or washing dishes. Simply helping you out when they think you need it, without being asked to. If this person has a partner who doesn’t think of or watch for these cues, then it could cause trouble between them.

Physical touch

The love language is in the title for this one, really. Cuddles, kisses, a hand on the waist. These people like to start and end the day with a kiss or for their hands to be held walking down the street. For someone who feels loved by this way of communication, a partner who doesn’t seem interested in your physical presence near to them will do no good.

We all may shift between love languages from time to time, it is mood dependent, however, a love language is mostly a part of our personalities and tends to change less dramatically as we mature. So when looking for the right partner, look for cues on what speaks love to them too.

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