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What is Your Love Language?

Learn how love languages can help couples meet each other's emotional needs and what to do if your language is different than your partner
What is your love language?

People usually show affection in different ways, based on their personalities. This is known as a "love language," popularized in Dr. Gary Chapman's 1995 book, The Five Love Languages.

These five love languages include:

  • Words of Affirmation

  • Acts of Service

  • Gifts

  • Quality Time

  • Physical Touch

A better understanding of love languages can help couples meet each other's emotional needs.

How to Find and Speak Your Love Language

To learn your or your partner's love language, consider the answers to these questions:

  • What makes you feel most loved and appreciated? Alternatively, what actions hurt you most?

  • How do you most comfortably express affection?

  • What do you most often request of your spouse or significant other?

1. Words of Affirmation

A Words of Affirmation "speaker" appreciates genuine compliments and verbal encouragement. Negative comments and insults are especially damaging. Words don't have to be especially creative or profound with this love language; they just have to be spoken.

Examples of Words of Affirmation:

  • "That outfit looks great on you."

  • Saying "I love you" regularly, out loud

  • "I appreciate how you handled that conversation."

2. Acts of Service

Someone who speaks Acts of Service as their love language most appreciates being served through actions that require thought and effort. Procrastinating favors or breaking commitments can hurt.

Examples of Acts of Service:

  • Offering to watch the kids while they take time for themselves

  • Picking up prescriptions or groceries

  • Doing the dishes without being asked

3. Gifts

The Gifts love language involves symbols of love and appreciation. Gifts don't need to be large or expensive, just a tangible object that says, "This made me think of you." Forgetting birthdays and anniversaries can be especially hurtful.

Examples of Gifts:

  • Bringing home a tasty dessert after a hard day

  • Sending flowers during an illness

  • Giving greeting cards spontaneously

4. Quality Time

Someone who speaks Quality Time feels loved when they receive attention from a loved one. Specific activities are not as important as being together with minimal distractions. Canceling plans or failing to listen carefully can be devastating.

Examples of Quality Time:

  • Taking a walk with uninterrupted conversation

  • Scheduling regular "date nights"

  • Responding to messages in a timely manner

5. Physical Touch

Someone who speaks Physical Touch enjoys physical contact, including hugging, holding hands, or a pat on the shoulder. This touch is not necessarily sexual; it can also show joy, concern, or compassion. Physical distance and abuse are especially damaging.

Examples of Physical Touch:

  • Giving hugs when saying hello and goodbye

  • Sitting close together on the couch

  • A gentle pat on the arm or shoulder when walking past

What If Two People Have Different Love Languages?

People who speak different love languages can still have a fulfilling relationship! You can both take time to learn what makes the other feel loved and appreciated, and make an effort to "speak" that language every day.

"In all my years of counseling, speaking, and writing about the 5 love languages, I've found that everyone benefits when they begin to apply them in all their relationships," Dr. Chapman says.

Even friends and family members can learn to speak each other's love languages. This helps everyone feel their emotional needs are being met.

For more relationship support, join our empathetic community, chat with a trained active listener, or start affordable online therapy today.


Posted: 13 May 2019
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Emily Jacobs

Emily Jacobs is a freelance healthcare writer based in Toledo, Ohio.

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