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It is common to think that everyone expresses love in the same way we do, and it may be surprising to us when they don’t. Understanding love languages is important in any relationship, from friendship, to family, to romantic partners. It’s easy to assume that others will show love in the same way we do, and if they don’t, we might think something is wrong. Understanding the psychology behind the five love languages can be helpful in any relationship, as well as finding out more about yourself. 


Marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman introduced the idea of love languages about 20 years ago in his book “The Five Love Languages.” They are: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, quality time, and physical touch. Dr. Chapman developed these love languages from 30 years worth of data from marriage counseling. Now we can gain insight about our love language as well as our relationships. 


There are quizzes upon quizzes that will try to tell you which is your love language, and while these are always fun and entertaining, the only way to really know is to understand the psychology behind it. 

Words of Affirmation

A common saying when talking about relationships is “actions speak louder than words,” but this isn’t true for those whose love language is words of affirmation. Communication in relationships that is encouraging, supportive, and responsive is how those who speak this language express and experience love, according to Ashford University. “Words of affirmation” doesn’t necessarily mean the person wants to be showered with compliments, just little comments that show they are valued and appreciated. This can include spoken words of affirmation, or written such as a comforting text or thoughtful letter. Dr. Michelle Rosser-Majors of Ashford University explains that as humans, we have a need to feel valued and appreciated which is why these positive affirmations have the ability to strengthen relationships. Communication is the key to many relationships, and words of affirmation can make communication between two people much more clear and open. 

Your love language is most likely words of affirmation if you connect deeply to what the other person says to you. If you feel other’s love the most when they show appreciation for you or are thoughtful in their words, you probably speak this love language. 

Acts of Service

Being helpful in everyday tasks or doing small thoughtful acts is another way that love is expressed. In his book Dr. Chapman describes this love language as “doing something for your spouse that you know they would like for you to do,” according to Ashford University. This, like all the love languages, can apply to any relationship, not just romantic partners. When someone does a selfless act for us, it can bring us so much comfort and feel how much we are loved. For those who speak this love language, actions do speak louder than words. 

Your love language is most likely acts of service if you get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when your partner or friend does something out of the blue for you, like bringing you a coffee because they know how busy you’ve been with school, or even taking out the trash for you because they know you don’t have time. If you feel most loved when someone puts in the effort for you or helps you out in any way, you probably speak this love language.

Gift Giving

This love language is commonly mutually fulling for those who speak it, both in receiving and feeling loved. In fact, Dr. Chapman explains that there can be primary and secondary love languages, and gift giving is the perfect example. We can feel loved when someone gets us a gift, but it can also bring us joy to get gifts for others, according to Ashford University. Gift giving can be wrongfully attributed as materialistic. However, what it really means for those who speak it is a reinforcement of how much someone cares about us, and vice versa how much we care about them. It is a physical way to show thoughtfulness. Most people who speak the love language of gift giving also aren’t looking for elaborate gifts, just little things that show that the other person is thinking about them and put in an effort for them.

Your love language is most likely gift giving if you love picking out and planning gifts for your friends and partner, or if you tend to hold onto gifts given to you. If you treasure small presents that people you love have gotten you, and find yourself looking back at gifts as a meaningful part of your relationship with that person, you probably speak this love language.

Quality Time

The description for this love language can be simply put as: quality over quantity. Quality time can be expressed in many different forms, but according to Dr. Chapman, when someone’s love language is quality time that means undivided attention with the other person. It also means not just having alone time with that person, but having meaningful conversations and connecting deeply, according to Ashford University. For those who speak this love language, spending time together is not always enough for the person to feel love. Many times quality time for them means being active in their lives, and taking advantage of alone time together to really be together. Things like not checking your phone at dinner or asking them how their day was (and meaning it), means the world to people whose love language is quality time. 

Your love language is most likely quality time if you feel loved when someone carves out time to be with you, and you appreciate having their full attention when you’re together. If you always love the feeling of one on one time and having meaningful talks with that person when you spend time with them, you probably speak this love language.

Physical Touch

The psychology behind this love language goes all the way back to when we were infants. Touch is one of the first ways we feel love, according to Ashford University. This love language is more evident in romantic relationships,and physical touch strengthens relationships and eases conflicts with partners. One popular belief is that physical touch is all about sex, but for those who speak this language, love can actually be moslty experienced by hugging, cuddling, and kissing. 

Your love language is most likely physical touch if you find yourself always holding your partner’s hand, cherishing long hugs and being held by your partner, and feeling the most love when they’re right up next to you. If you always find yourself wanting to be close to your partner, no matter the situation, you probably speak this love language.





Gillian is a third-year at Cal Poly SLO. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child Development. Gillian is an editor and writer for Cal Poly Her Campus this year. She enjoys writing about sustainable fashion, social media trends, and activism. Even though she is planning a career in psychology, she loves being a part of Her Campus because it allows her to have a creative outlet and continue her passion for writing.
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