Photo of a "Love" sign

Love Languages Explained

In 1992, counselor Gary Chapman published the The Five Love Languages, which outlines the five different ways that individuals like to express and experience love. It’s incredibly useful to know what makes your loved ones feel loved, and for them to know the same about you. This concept is so important for anyone in any kind of relationship. It’s a way to demystify what may seem like an enigma: how to have genuinely happy and fulfilled relationships.  The following examples outline what Chapman believes to be the five languages of love!

1. Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation are a love language expressed through verbal confirmation. If your partner, friend, parent, or sibling highly values words of affirmation, it’s good to know so that you can focus on giving them sincere and merited praise. Words of affirmation can vary from a nice compliment here and there to letting someone know how grateful you are for them. In whatever form they take, words of affirmation are meant to make another feel appreciated and loved. 

Here are some that you can try:

  • You look amazing today

  • Thank you for always being there for me

  • I can tell that you’ve been working so hard

  • I’m so proud of you

  • I’m so grateful to have you as my (child/sibling/parent/friend/partner)

 

2. Giving Gifts

Just because this may be someone’s love language, it doesn’t mean that they’re materialistic. Instead, they appreciate someone thinking of them and acting upon that. It could be as simple as someone picking them up some flowers or a pint of ice cream. Whatever it may be, the act of getting something for someone you love without them directly asking you for it can mean the world to them.

Here are some that you can try:

  • Sending them a surprise at work

  • Picking up something nice from the market on the way home

  • Get them that necklace they’ve been talking about for months

 

3. Spending quality time together

If your loved one’s love language is quality time, it’s really important that you understand the difference between simply being in each other’s presence and granting them your undivided attention.  This means that your phone and TV are off, you’re not multitasking, and 100% of your focus is on your loved one.

Here are some that you can try:

  • Going out to dinner

  • Cooking together

  • Playing cards

  • Getting in the car and taking a drive

 

4. Acts of service

For those who highly value acts of service, taking action on their behalf makes them really happy. This could mean that you doing something as simple as taking out the garbage without being asked is a very meaningful gesture to someone. Likewise, completing a chore off of their list without being asked could help that person feel your love for them. Doing some kind of service-oriented act with them that they’ve been wanting to do is a great opportunity to both make them happy and spend time together as well.

Here are some that you can try:

  • Picking them up from the airport

  • Getting up and doing the dishes if they normally do them

  • Surprising them by cleaning out their car 

  • Taking out the garbage

  • Setting up the next vacation

 

5. Physical touch 

If a loved one’s language of love is physical touch, this does not mean that they’re proponents of constant PDA. Rather, if this is someone’s love language, they feel most loved when they receive things like hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.  If you are able to sense when even a gentle touch would uplift your loved one, you are in a good place.

Here are some that you can try:

  • A hello/goodbye hug

  • A high five 

  • A hug when ones feeling sad or down

 

Your parents, siblings, partner, or best friend could be your biggest fan, but you’d never fully feel their love unless they showed it to you in ways that are most meaningful to you. 

Understanding these 5 love languages is very helpful because while you may feel that you deeply love someone, they may not always know it because it’s getting “lost in translation.”

For example, their love language may be words of affirmation, but you may have been expressing your love for them through acts of service. Knowing their love language will help you express your love in ways that make them the happiest.  

Chapman’s novel, and hopefully this article, can be really helpful first steps to understanding how to help someone you love feel loved. For example, if your loved one spoke French, but you only told them you loved them in Spanish, it may not translate. In this same way, understanding another person’s love language will help you show them your feelings in a way that you can both appreciate--and it won’t get lost in translation.