Everything You Need to Know About ‘Love Languages’ & How They Can Improve Your Relationship

We have preferences for just about everything in life—pizza toppings, music genres, brands of toothpaste, types of milk—but when it comes to how we want to receive love (aka how we want other people to show they love us), the options may not always seem as crystal clear as skim, soy, cashew or almond.

It’s one thing to talk with our partners about what candies we like on our froyo or which Netflix movies are our favorites, but talking about how we both want to show or receive love isn’t exactly a casual conversation. However, when we don’t talk about the things we wish they’d say or do more often (or less often), the relationship can easily spiral into a passive-aggressive mess.

But, wait—are we supposed to automatically know how we want to be showered with love? Or even give love, for that matter?

The solution? Understanding the different languages for how we all express and receive love. According to relationship expert Gary Chapman, who wrote The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, there are five different “languages” of expressing love to someone. Chapman believes that by discovering which language speaks to you, you can find out what makes you feel the most fulfilled and happy. Additionally, by learning your partner’s love language, you can understand their preferences and better cater to their needs.

If you think you’ve taken every type of personality quiz on the planet (or BuzzFeed), think again. Inspired by Chapman’s book, the Five Love Languages Quiz is a love life game-changer; by filling out the simple questionnaire, you can learn exactly how you understand the language of love, giving you crazy insights into what you want in a relationship. The quiz results rank your love language preferences from strongest to weakest, and a video on the site even illustrates visually how each language can be expressed.

Check out these descriptions of each love language.

Words of Affirmation

For you, it's all about talking the talk. If this is your language, you think it's most meaningful when your loved ones compliment you and tell you not only that they appreciate you, but why they love you and think you're so special. You're also not one to easily forget insults or negative comments.

Acts of Service

You're the kind of person who feels most loved when someone close to you helps out with responsibilities and chores that consume your time and energy. Whether your SO lends a hand with the laundry or helps with a project without being asked, acts of service give you major heart-eyed emoji feels. On the other hand, you'll be pretty crushed if your partner is lazy or backs out of commitments.

Receiving Gifts

For you, receiving a thoughtful gift shows that your partner knows you inside and out. You value gift-giving, as well as any sacrifices that went into the experience of presenting the gift. This also means you value relationship milestones, and you'd have a hard time shaking off a forgotten anniversary, birthday or thoughtless gift.

Quality Time

You're happiest when you and your SO get to spend time together—just the two of you. In your opinion, the ultimate grand gesture is when someone you love carves out time to see you outside of noisy restaurants or bars, crowded gatherings or big parties with other people. And if someone bails on plans or is constantly more interested in their phone than in what you have to say, it's over.

Physical Touch

Hugging, holding hands with someone you love and meaningful touches on your arm, shoulder or face mean the world to you. If this is your language, you feel most loved when you are physically close with your SO. Likewise, you'd be crushed if you felt neglected or ignored by your partner.

These descriptions may sound like they came straight from an overly cheesy anniversary card, or they may just seem obvious. (I mean, who doesn’t want their partner—or anyone else, for that matter—to do the dishes for them?) However, by knowing the love language of you and your partner, you gain insight into how you want to receive love and how you can best show your special someone that you appreciate them.

Related: 4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Communicate Better With Your SO

According to Cosmopolitan, it’s important to address the fact that you receive love in a way that might be different than how your partner receives love, and the Five Love Languages Quiz is a surefire way to confirm your love-receiving preferences.

So, once you know your language, how can you put it to use? We talked to a dating expert and a number of collegiettes who swear by love languages to resolve conflicts and enhance their relationships.

1. You’ll find out what makes your partner happy

Once you know your partner’s love language, you can start making more of an effort to show them affection based on their preferences—and this will undoubtedly bring the two of you closer and show that you care about what makes them happy.

Devin O’Connell, a University of Florida senior, says that she and her boyfriend have been dating for almost two years, and that knowing each other’s love language has enhanced their relationship by allowing them to understand each other’s preferences. “In the very beginning, I told him that 'Quality Time' is my love language,” the 21-year-old says. “Through that, he always makes an effort to spend time with me, even if it’s just seeing each other for 10 minutes a day.”

The act of taking the quiz with your partner, or even suggesting that he or she take the quiz, shows that you are interested in finding the best way to love them—and that is pretty valuable in and of itself.

“If you can find out the best way to love your partner, I think that’s very special and shows that you really care about that person,” Devin says.

If your partner is a “Words of Affirmation" person, you can show them love by complimenting them, telling them you’re proud of them for something they accomplished, or that you love that they’re so passionate about a project they’re working on. If they speak the “Acts of Service” language, you can lend a hand with a task they’re dreading or offer to help with small but meaningful chores; this will really show them that you care about making them feel loved and fulfilled.

2. You can learn a lot from your ‘secondary’ languages

The Five Love Languages Quiz tells you more than just your primary love language; it ranks your other languages from strongest to weakest, which can offer valuable insights into what else you want from your partner and how much or how little each language matters to you when receiving love. 

Marla Manes, a University of Florida junior, says that she learned a lot about herself just from discovering her secondary love languages.

“I already knew that my language would be ‘Physical Touch’ going into the quiz because I love hugging and cuddling and holding hands with anybody that I’m close with,” she says. “But the quiz gave me new insight into my secondary languages—the ones that I still value or use but at a lower level. Those results surprised me, but the more I thought about them, the more I considered the results to be true. It showed me my relationships in a new light.”

Marla says that she and her boyfriend have been dating for almost four months, and that taking the quiz side-by-side was a beneficial experience. “By taking it with a partner, you also learn about them and about your relationship,” she says. “We learned about what each of us value so that we can express our love effectively. … All of the languages are valid, and I think it’s just another tool that you can use to strengthen your relationships.”

Love, like any emotion, is not always clear-cut. The love languages concept reflects this notion with the secondary languages, which represent nuances or “dialects” of how you want to be loved.

3. Discussing your love languages as a couple can help the two of you communicate better

Samantha Daniels, author of Matchbook: The Diary of a Modern Day Matchmaker and creator of the dating app The Dating Lounge, says that discussing your love language with your partner is a simple but beneficial exercise that can make it easier to talk about your preferences.

“A lot of people have a hard time telling their partner that they wish they’d say ‘I love you’ more often than they do, or that they wish they’d show their appreciation in a different way because they’re not feeling loved,” Daniels says. “But having these set categories or ‘languages’ makes it easier for people to explain not only what they want from their partner, but how and why they feel connected to that type of language.”

Taking the love langauges quiz can spark an important dialogue between you and your SO and can make it easier to talk about other topics or issues that you may not have been as open to discussing previously.

4. Love languages can benefit other relationships in your life

Love languages are not limited to romantic relationships; discovering your language—and the languages of those around you—can make you a better friend, family member, roommate and team member.

“One night at dinner, a group of my friends took the quiz together and shared our results. It really made us such stronger friends because we’re able to know what the other ones need in order to feel that sense of belonging,” says Jacquelin Sheehan, a sophomore at the University of Florida. “I know one of my best friend’s is ‘Words of Affirmation,’ so I make sure to always tell her things I appreciate about her ... because I know she’ll benefit more from it.”

Telling friends and other loved ones in your life about how you like to receive love—and taking the time to learn about their personalities and preferences—gives you more opportunities to show them that you care about them in a way that best suits their wants and needs.

Related: 6 Ways to Show Your Significant Other You Love Them

So, the next time you feel misunderstood by your partner or feel as though you aren’t understanding what makes someone in your life happy, consider doing a little soul-searching and discovering your love language. Whether you appreciate a quality hug, a compliment, spending time with someone close to you, receiving a special gift or getting help when you need it most—each language of love is special and valid.

Follow Darcy on Twitter.

Darcy Schild is a University of Florida junior majoring in journalism. She's the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus UFL and was previously a Her Campus national section editor. She spent Summer 2017 as an Editorial Intern at HC headquarters in Boston, where she oversaw the "How She Got There" section and wrote and edited feature articles and news blogs. She also helped create the weekly Her Campus Instagram Story series, Informed AF. Follow her on Twitter and on her blog, The Darcy Diaries.

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