By Linor Ben-Naim
Have you ever had an argument with your significant other and wished they could just read your mind? Maybe if they understood how you were feeling, they’d stop putting up a fight. That is the idea behind the concept of the love languages: they let you in on what makes your partner tick. The idea is that we all express and feel love differently, and understanding those differences can help your relationship. This term was coined by longtime relationship counselor Gary Chapman. His book, Five Love Languages, admittedly sounds like a bad quiz you’d take on Buzzfeed, but it works. In fact, you don’t really need to read the book to understand the concept. It’s fairly simple, and by the end of this post, you’ll understand most of what you need to know.
Chances are, you can relate to a few of these. Maybe you relate to all of them. Most of us have one or two that are much more important to us than the others, and it’s different for everyone. There’s no scientific research behind Chapman’s theory; it makes sense because it’s relatable. It’s obvious that we all show affection in different ways. These “languages” simply label those ways so you can understand people a little better. When you know what your partner does and doesn’t care about, it’s a pretty big eye opener. For example, in my many years of experience in past relationships (total count of one), I noticed that for me,“Good Morning Beautiful, I love you” speaks much more than flowers or chocolates. In the other direction, my giving him compliments meant nothing compared to spending quality time together! Take a minute or two and read about the languages below and then take this convenient quiz that Chapman offers on his website!
- Words of Affirmation
According to Dr. Chapman, this language uses words to “affirm,” appreciate and validate other people. For those who prefer the words of affirmation language, hearing “I love you” and other compliments are what they value the most. Words are the weight in this language. Furthermore, negative or insulting comments cut deep — and won’t be easily forgiven.
- Quality Time
This language is all about giving your significant other your undivided attention and physical presence. Unlike the words of affirmation language, being a loved one’s main focus leaves quality timers feeling satisfied and comforted. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially harmful to these individuals. Being there for them is crucial.
- Receiving Gifts
Dr. Chapman says that for some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a tangible gift. This doesn’t necessarily mean the person is materialistic. Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving physical gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.
A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him or her a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It isn’t about the money spent – what is important is that you thought of him or her. And it is not the thought existing only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it is the expression of love.
- Acts of Service
People who “speak” the language of service want their partners to recognize that life is rough and to help them out in any way possible. Lending a helping hand shows you really care. People who thrive on this language do not deal well with broken promises — or perceived laziness — and have very little tolerance for people who make more work for them. If you’re not willing to show your appreciation by doing them a favor, you’re saying you don’t value them.
Consider actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition — they are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then “actions speak louder than words.”
- Physical touch
To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. That doesn’t mean only in the bedroom — everyday physical connections, like hand holding, hugging, kissing, or any type of reaffirming physical contact is greatly appreciated. A person who speaks the language of physical touch isn’t necessarily an over-the-top PDAer, but getting a little touchy-feely does make them feel safe and loved. Any instance of physical abuse is a total violation of their most sacred language of love.
After reading about the different love languages, you might be thinking that you relate and connect with more than one language. Well, interestingly enough, your love language might vary with the different relationships you have, as there are different kinds of love shared. For example, your sibling might speak a different language in a romantic relationship than he or she does with family, and while you might need one language with your partner and/or family, you don’t necessarily need this with friends to feel like they care. The Love Languages can help you express your love for another in the best possible way, and knowing your own can help your partner give you the love that you need without having to “read your mind.” It opens up communication, and we all know how much that matters in relationships. Often, the way that we want to receive love is the way we think to give it, but that isn’t necessarily the best way for our partner, so understanding where you’re each coming from and being able to meet halfway when you don’t speak the same language is key to relationship success. ❤️