What Are the 5 Love Languages (and How to Use Them)?

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The term “love languages” has become a bit of a buzzword over the last decade. It was originally coined by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages. Simply put, love languages are individual preferences for how we give and receive love. These preferences apply to all relationships, platonic or otherwise. Despite the love-it-or-hate-it perception of the book, people have taken to the idea of love languages. There are quizzes, videos and think pieces on the subject. So, what are the five love languages, and how do we use them?

Acts of Service

Those who prefer acts of service feel loved when people go out of their way for them, or vice versa. This requires a dedication of time and effort. Acts of service can be summed up with the philosophy that actions speak louder than words. E.g.

  • Shovel a loved one’s driveway, mow their lawn, or help with landscaping.
  • Pick up groceries for a grandparent.
  • Pack lunch for a loved one.
  • Help with household chores without having to be asked.
  • Ask someone what they need help with, and then assist them.
  • If out running errands, ask if there’s anything a friend needs and get it for them.

Receiving Gifts

Believe it or not, some people can be quite uncomfortable receiving gifts. For others, getting (and giving) gifts fills their hearts to the brim. This doesn’t mean the presents have to be extravagant. Small, personal gifts can help these people feel cared for.  E.g.

  • Bring a friend their favorite snacks.
  • Give a loved one a gift card to their favorite store.
  • Send a postcard to a far-away family member.
  • Pay attention to what a romantic partner says they need, and then get it for them (e.g., new spatula, cozy socks, new winter hat, etc.).
  • Surprise a loved one with an exciting gift, like lesson they’ve always wanted (e.g., archery, pottery, etc.) or a trip to somewhere they’ve always wanted to go.

Quality Time

Sometimes, all a person needs to feel loved is a little undivided attention. In our go, go, go world, providing attention without distraction may be more difficult than it sounds. Phones/social media, poor work life balance or competing priorities may lead to disengagement. For people who value quality time, connection is key. E.g.

  • Call a loved on regularly.
  • Have a boardgame night with friends.
  • Eat dinner as a family and engage in conversation.
  • Have a coffee date with friends
  • Plan a romantic date full of engaging activities. This will depend on the people involved (e.g., dinner, rock climbing, playing darts, etc.).
  • Have a conversation with our spouse, no phones or television allowed.

Words of Affirmation

This love language is perhaps the most literal. People whose hearts swell with words of affirmation need verbal confirmation of affection. These people subscribe to the philosophy that there is power in words. Of course, we should avoid falsehoods; only speak true words of affirmation. E.g.

  • Simply say, “I love you”.
  • Tell a loved one how special they are to us.
  • Let our significant other know that we appreciate them making us dinner.
  • Tell a friend we miss them.
  • Leave loving notes around the house for our family.
  • Tell a friend what we find admirable about them.
  • Give genuine compliments to friends and family.

Physical Touch

For people who cringe at the thought of a hug or handshake, touch probably isn’t their go-to love language. Physical affection isn’t for everyone. But, for some people touch can feel comforting and safe. Touch can range from platonic to intimate. E.g.

  • High-five a friend when they experience a success.
  • Hug our children each morning.
  • Kiss our significant just because.
  • Rub a friend’s back when they’re upset.
  • Offer a massage to a loved one.

We may pick up on the love language(s) of others simply by spending enough time with them. However, we can’t be expected to guess, nor should we try. It’s important that we communicate with those we care about. Doing this allows us to better understand how to make them feel loved. We should also learn about our own love language(s) and inform people. This helps us build healthy, mutually satisfying connections. Take the original Love Language Quiz; we all deserve to receive love exactly how we need it.



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