What is a love language?

Simply put, a ‘love language’ is the way in which a person expresses and receives love. The term was originally developed by Dr Chapman who identified 5 different love languages, and although his work is over 25 years old, the concepts are still relevant and widely used today.

The 5 love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Many couples can relate to all of these different languages, but according to Dr Chapman, each person has one primary love language that they prefer over the others. If they don’t receive the love language they crave from their partner, they can begin to feel unloved and unsatisfied, which can cause the relationship to break down.

Learning to read your partner's love language and communicating your own can help you both better understand what you both need in order for your relationship to thrive.

In this article we will look at the 5 different love languages in detail and provide tips on how you can better connect with your loved one.

1) Words Of Affirmation

Girl with brown hair, with green shirt and beige trousers giving the thumbs up and smiling. Chat bubble in front of her.

For those whose primary love language is words of affirmation, high value will be placed on verbal forms of affection and compliments. (words of encouragement will mean the world to them).

Written words will be just as important as verbal words. Their impact can be massive if they express positive things such as 'I love you' or 'I appreciate you'. As words are important to them, it can take them longer to get over insults compared to others. Keep that in mind while in an argument with them, as each thing said will have a significant effect, whether that's positive or negative.

How to show it:

  • Send your partner a spontaneous text to tell them you have been thinking about them
  • Compliment them on their new hair style or outfit choice
  • Praise them when they reach a new achievement at work or in a hobby
  • Tell them how much you appreciate those little things they do for you

2) Acts Of Service

Woman washing dishes while looking at man sweeping the floor who is also looking at her. Cat is playing with the mop.

To a person with this love language, actions most definitely speak louder than words.

They will feel most loved and appreciated when their partner does something helpful or thoughtful for them, especially if it’s without being asked to do so in the first place. These gestures don’t need to be over the top, and usually it’s the little things that matter the most.

It’s equally important that when doing something nice for them, it isn’t treated like a chore or all efforts will be wasted.

How to show it:

  • Help out with all those boring little chores your partner needs to do, especially if they are overworked or tired.
  • Make dinner for them as a surprise.
  • Do things without being asked!

3) Receiving Gifts

Man with brown jacket and black trousers offers brunette woman with black vest and beige trousers a bouquet of white roses.

The main love language for some people could be the act of giving and receiving gifts. This might sound materialistic and shallow but it’s not specifically about the monetary value of the item given. It is more important that the gift is thoughtful and that the giver has spent careful deliberation and time in choosing a meaningful gift for their partner. Home made and sentimental gifts are even more special for people with this love language, and they will also take birthdays and anniversaries quite seriously.

How to show it:

  • Be sure to put in some effort when choosing gifts for special occasions; choose something you know would be important to them rather than a standard box of chocolates.
  • Buy them something you’ve heard them mention they wanted to try e.g. a new book, a new dress etc
  • Give them a gift when they have been feeling down or upset e.g. bunch of flowers

4) Quality Time

Man and woman in park, the woman sitting on a swing while man pushes her from behind. Yellow leaves fall around them.

For some people, nothing says “I love you” more than when you give them your full attention. Spending quality time with loved ones whether at home or out on a date makes them feel loved and listened to.

The key word to remember here is ‘quality’! Sitting next to each other whilst you are both on your phones will not equate to quality time. Put the phone down and make sure they have your undivided attention. Acting distracted or showing you aren’t listening to them will only hinder any efforts you are making to spend more time together.

How to show it:

  • Set up a certain day or time to spend quality time with each other. This can be at home watching a new show or going out for dinner.
  • Take the time to learn about your partner's hobbies and take an interest in what they like.
  • Schedule for a ‘no phones’ time e.g. during dinner.

5) Physical Touch

Man with blonde hair and teal jumper, and woman with brown hair and pink jumper hugging closely.

If a person’s primary love language is physical touch, they feel most loved when they are physically close to their partner.

We’re not just talking about being intimate in the bedroom, although that is equally as important for them. Physical touch also means kissing, holding hands and even getting close and cuddly on the sofa with a good film.

They will never refuse a massage or opportunity to get physically close to their partner, and pulling away from them will be emotionally damaging.

How to show it:

  • Remember to give them a kiss or a cuddle when you greet them or say goodbye.
  • Offer them a massage when they have had a rough day.
  • Gently squeeze their arm, hold their hand or touch their back when out in public or going about everyday activities.

We all express and feel love in different ways. The 5 love languages can be used to learn what language you and your partner speak so you can better understand each other.

If you’re not sure which love language you speak, try this quick online test for free. Be sure to get your partner to take the quiz as well and don’t forget to swap results. Once you have your results you can put it into practice so you and your partner will have a happier and more fulfilling relationship.