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Love Languages Aren’t Just For Valentine’s Day

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Notre Dame chapter.

Do you know your love language? In 1992, Gary Chapman released a book called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Full disclosure, I’ve never read this book and, before doing some research, I didn’t even know that Mr. Chapman was the origin of this concept. But I had heard of “knowing your love language” before. I’ve even taken the quiz – answering a panel of questions about how I’d prefer to be shown affection. For anyone not familiar, the five love languages are as follows: words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and acts of service. The quiz results work in terms of percentage, so there’s the possibility to be dominant in one specific area or spread out somewhat evenly across the five – it’s up to you and the answers you choose.

I know that Valentine’s Day has come and gone but some of the conversations I had last week stuck with me and kept me thinking. Ironically, there were two separate conversations, with different groups of people about love languages that made me feel like this was a topic worth writing about. Sure, it was one of those moments in which putting a name to a general feeling is helpful. When I took the quiz and got my result, I said, “huh, yeah well that makes a lot of sense actually,” and like when your doctor gives you the diagnosis of eczema for your rash and not necrotizing fasciitis, you feel better with this bit of piece of mind. But what I think is really important is actually the flip side — not knowing my own love language, but knowing the love languages of people around me. Was this concept meant for romantic relationships specifically? That may have been the original intention, but we love lots of people in our lifetimes in lots of different ways, and I believe there is an incredible power in this understanding of love that can be translated to friendships and family – not just the romantic ones. 

people exchanging a paper heart
Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

It’s not about understanding what is a meaningful way for others to connect with you, but it’s a secret to being a better friend, a better daughter, a better cousin, a better parent. When we know more about each other, when we understand what another person needs and wants, we can be better for that person. When it’s someone you love, in whatever way it is you love them, knowing their “language” allows you to love better. And what a gift, right? To be able to love people better — isn’t that the point? If you really love someone, you want them to get the best feeling from your affection. It’s not a toxic thing or a self-serving thing that strokes the ego. Rather, it is something warm and kind that fills them up and sustains them. 

Knowing the love languages of people around you makes it easier to love more selflessly. Running errands with your best friend because she values quality time or telling your mom the dinner she cooked was so wonderful and you’re so grateful for it because her language is words of affirmation is a way to give each individual the love they deserve.

Like any good relationship or conversation, there exists a necessary reciprocity. I often find myself caught up in overthinking and getting in my own way — agonizing over how I would feel or what I would do in a certain situation. Don’t get me wrong, that old phrase we’ve heard since preschool “treat others the way you want to be treated” still rings true. No one wants to be treated like garbage, but as we get older we can set down another layer of nuance and acknowledge that not everyone wants to be treated in the exact same way. I think that understanding someone’s love language provides magnificent insight into how they do want to be treated. And if we want to bring happiness to those we love, we should first listen to and understand the ways in which they value being shown love.


Emma Koster

Notre Dame '22

Hi! My name is Emma and I'm a junior at the University of Notre Dame. I'm so excited to be studying psychology, journalism, and digital marketing here at ND! In my free time I love to read, eat yummy snacks, and hang out with friends.