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What are the five love languages?

You may have heard of them before, but the five love languages are physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time. These love languages were conceptualized by Gary Chapman in his 1992 book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chapman conceptualized these love languages to capture the different ways that people express and receive love.

 

1. Words of affirmation

People whose love language is words of affirmation appreciate verbal acknowledgements of affection, like compliments, “I love you’s,” and other affectionate words. Words are a powerful way to communicate love in all types of relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or familial.

2. Physical touch

Using physical touch to express affection can include intimate physical gestures like holding hands, cuddling, kissing, hugging, or, for some relationships, sex. Those whose love language is physical touch find comfort in the warmth and reassurance associated with physical touch. 

3. Receiving gifts

It’s no surprise that receiving gifts is one of the five love languages. Gifts are visual acknowledgements of affection that show a loved one is thinking of you. It’s important to note that it’s not necessarily about the monetary value of the gift, but the sentiment and gesture associated with gift giving. 

4. Acts of service 

When a loved one does kind gestures like giving you back massages after a long day at work, making you soup when you’re sick, or carrying your shopping bags so you don’t have to, it can make you fall in love with them all over again. It’s definitely the thought that counts when it comes to acts of service. 

5. Quality time 

Of course spending quality time with a loved one is a love language. People whose love language is quality time enjoy being in the presence of their loved ones and doing things together. While some people are less attached to the people in their lives and appreciate their alone time, people with this love language actively enjoy doing activities or having meaningful conversations together. 

So, how can love languages play important roles in relationships?

Paying attention to how your loved ones express and receive love is crucial to developing any healthy relationship. And once you know both your love language and theirs, you can be more aware as to how to improve your relationships.

Communication is key, especially if two people have different love languages. For example, suppose your love language is words of affirmation and your partner’s is physical touch. Despite the fact that you express love by verbally telling them how much you love them, they may not feel the same way without physical affection. If this isn’t clear at the beginning of your relationship, it can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings later on.

If your loved one’s love language is… 

1. Words of affirmation

You should compliment them about their accomplishments and achievements, big or small. Whether it was the delicious dinner that they made for the two of you, or a promotion at work, make sure that they know you appreciate them. Something as simple as communicating a few words of encouragement can really make all the difference.

2. Physical touch

You should give them physical affection like hugs and kisses (at the level of physical touch you and they are comfortable with). For loved ones whose love language is physical touch, even something as simple as putting your arm around them when you’re sitting together can make their day. 

3. Receiving gifts

You can show your affection by getting thoughtful gifts and remembering special occasions. These gifts don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, especially not if it’s a regular day. To satisfy a loved one whose love language is receiving gifts, all you have to do is take note of the things they like and make an effort to surprise them. A little goes a long way with this one. 

4. Acts of service

You should actively look for ways to make your loved one’s life easier. This could mean washing the dishes after dinner and running errands for them or making them breakfast in the morning. They’ll appreciate these actions, even if you think they don’t matter. These small acts of service will add up—and trust me, they won’t go unnoticed. 

5. Quality time 

You should make sure to intentionally free up space in your schedule to spend time with your loved one. Whether that’s having a meaningful conversation about each other’s day or walking the dog together, quality time is an important part of every relationship. Being busy shouldn’t be an excuse for not spending time with the people you love. 

One last note

With that said, love languages shouldn’t determine your entire relationship. While acknowledging them can definitely improve your relationship, don’t feel obligated to change your dynamic in order to satisfy the conditions of these love languages. Every relationship is different, and what works for someone else may not work for you. The most important thing is to communicate with your loved ones and take note of the things they appreciate and enjoy. 

Beverly Feng

U Penn '24

Beverly is a freshman at UPenn studying Management and Marketing. Her hobbies include traveling, cooking, working out, and exploring new restaurants. She's super excited to be joining Her Campus!
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