We all like to receive and show love differently. Some of us like to shower our significant other with gifts, while others prefer to vocalize their gratitude by saying “I love you”. In other words, we all have different types of love languages.
You’ve likely heard of love languages before, but keep scrolling to learn more about the five different types of love languages, and how they can help your relationship.
Love languages were developed in the ‘90s by Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor, marriage counselor, and author, as a way to understand the distinct ways people communicate love. The five love languages are quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts.
In his bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Chapman explains that while people typically use all five love languages, everyone has a main language that defines how we expect to receive and express love.
Chapman’s theory is that by knowing your and your partner’s love languages, you can learn to communicate better, connect more, and navigate conflict easier. Although it’s not the
be-all-and-end-all of relationship satisfaction, the concept of love languages can be a useful way to communicate your needs in a relationship, and ensure that you’re meeting your partner’s needs, too.
At their core, love languages can help you know your partner better, and make them feel understood and cared for.
Someone with the love language of quality time thrives on undivided attention. But it’s not just about spending time together — this love language relies on dedicated attention, with no distractions allowed. This means putting your phone away when you’re together and scheduling regular date nights on the calendar.
A person whose main love language is acts of service shows and receives love by lending a helping hand. If this is your partner’s love language, you can make them feel understood by doing something as simple as making them a cup of coffee in the morning, or taking care of a chore you know they hate doing. It’s all about the small, everyday things.
Although this love language gets a bad rap, gift-giving isn’t as materialistic as it sounds. It’s the thought that counts — quite literally. Someone with this love language will appreciate the time and effort that went into the gift, more than the gift itself. When it comes to this love language, thoughtful gifts matter more than expensive ones.
This love language is all about cuddling, holding hands, and all forms of physical affection (yes, including sex). Physical intimacy can be incredibly affirming to someone whose love language is physical touch. They want to be close to someone in every sense of the word. If this is your partner’s love language, a hug at the end of the day or a kiss on the cheek while you’re out in public can mean the world.
The words of affirmation love language is all about communication. If this is their primary love language, compliments, expressions of gratitude, cute texts, and a simple “I love you” can make your partner feel cherished and understood.
Little research has been done on the validity of Chapman’s love languages, so they’re far from an exact science. Some studies have shown them to help, but other research suggests that love languages are only effective if partners are able to change their behavior. For the most part, the research is inconclusive.
You may also be wondering if you and your partner need to share the same love language in order to be happy. According to Chapman, the answer is no — but it can’t hurt. Researchers looked into this further, and while some studies found that couples with matching love languages weren’t more satisfied than couples with different love languages, a more recent study suggests that sharing a love language can lead to greater sexual and relational satisfaction.
The good news? Even just knowing your partner’s main love language can predict relationship satisfaction further down the line. That’s because knowing your partner’s love language can help you recognize how they show affection and avoid misinterpreting each other’s needs.
For example, your love language might be words of affirmation but your partner’s primary love language is quality time. To them, it doesn’t matter how often you tell them “I love you” unless you’re making time in the week to hang out. Equally, you may not feel appreciated unless they compliment your outfit on your date.
You can learn your partner’s love language simply by listening and taking notice, or by taking the love language quiz online.