The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When a loved one is hurting, or when we simply want to show someone how much we care about them, most of us have a particular way we express ourselves: our love language. Knowing which of the five love languages you strongly identify with—words of affirmation, giving gifts, quality time, physical touch, or acts of service—is incredibly helpful for understanding your identity and emotional needs as an individual.
Recently, after moving to a collegiate environment far from home and forming new friendships and relationships, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of being surrounded by a variety of different ways of expressing love and emotion. The more people I interact with and friendships I form, the more acutely aware I am of what I admire most about people with each type of love language:
Gift givers have an impressive way of amplifying a small, seemingly insignificant part of yourself into a meaningful gift. Their expressions of gratitude show that they understand unique aspects of your identity—hobbies, quirks, and values—without needing to articulate it. Gift givers can create a physical, palpable expression of your relationship, and give you a way to feel connected to them even when you aren’t around each other.
Words of affirmation
Interpreting actions and emotions is often a frustrating process, so when someone directly tells you their feelings and thoughts concerning a situation, it can be both refreshing and comforting. Those who readily verbalize their appreciation for others recognize that language is a potent force with the power to mend relationships and alleviate worry, and are adept at uplifting those around them with their words.
Those who express love through quality time understand that taking a walk, watching a movie, or even just sitting and talking can deepen and maintain a relationship. Even when you aren’t verbally communicating, being in physical proximity is showing your desire to spend time around the other person. When you’re with someone who values quality time, dull tasks such as cleaning or studying can feel rewarding because you know your companion truly enjoys being there with you.
When there aren’t words or helpful ways to remedy a situation, letting someone know that you’re there for them by being physically close to them can be deeply comforting. Physical contact has even been scientifically linked with improving your mood by triggering the release of powerful mood boosting neurotransmitters—which is why those who communicate via physical contact can improve your mental health almost instantly in emotionally heavy times.
Acts of service
With this being my own love language, I’ve always felt a special connection to other people whose love language is acts of service. In my mind, acts of service—bringing dinner to a busy family member or looking over a friend’s essay— are a productive and active way to alleviate someone’s stress when you aren’t sure what to say. I’ve always shown my love for those around me by doing something kind for them, and hoping that it makes them feel better; likewise, when others do that for me, I feel appreciated and understood.
The key takeaway?
When we hear about love languages, the actions we typically associate with love spring to mind—hugs, holding hands, being physically affectionate; however, not everyone gives and receives love in the same way. A friend’s instinct to hug you when you’re upset can feel hollow when you don’t feel like they are putting effort into really understanding the root of your feelings.
Your own love language is not always the best or only way to connect; humans are complicated individuals with a variety of needs in every relationship—whether that be familial, platonic, or romantic. Everyone’s unique way of expressing love is too complex to neatly fit into one of five categories; even so, being aware of the general way in which you love can help you realize your expectations and needs in a relationship, and give you the tools and language needed to communicate them.