It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and the term ‘love languages’ has begun to fly around. But what is a love language and how do you know what yours is?
Just because you love someone, it doesn’t mean they feel loved by you. Whether it be platonic or romantic, any healthy relationship is based on how we give and receive love, and this isn’t always as easy as ‘treating people how you want to be treated’.
In his series of books first published in 1992, Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, delves into the five different types, approaching the concept that everyone requires love to be shown in a different way.
To put it simply, while you might feel most loved when you’re being hugged (physical touch), your partner may be craving the verbal reassurance of your feelings (words of affirmation). Chapman comes to the conclusion that every person has a primary language that they value the most, and usually a secondary one.
Many issues in relationships may be down to miscommunication- or no communication -surrounding your preferred love language/s. Identifying these is the first step towards forming healthier bonds and having both parties’ needs met.
If this is your first time hearing about love languages, or you just aren’t sure what yours is, you’re not alone! But it’s never too late to learn, and hopefully, my short summaries below will help you move to an even better place with your relationships. I’ll be directing it more toward romantic relationships, but they can be adjusted to apply to everyday ones too,
Acts of service
These people tend to appreciate the little gestures that often get overlooked but mean the very most. This love language is about literally demonstrating how you care for them.
How: Making someone breakfast, walking them home, or taking on a job that you knew they were anxious about.
This can often be misconstrued as materialism, but it’s more than that. It’s the act of seeing something that makes you think of the other person when you’re apart. Gifts don’t have to be expensive either- it’s the sentimental value that is important and the expression of time and effort.
How: Buying their favourite snack for when they come over, giving them a flower that you picked, or a little post-it note with a message. This leads me to the third love language-words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation
These people love to hear praise or appreciation- don’t assume they already know because you told them once last Tuesday! This can be particularly important for someone who struggles with anxiety, and reassurance can help to relieve any irrational worries or doubts that they may have.
How: Expressing why they are loved, that you are proud of them. If you’re not able to talk, messages throughout the day to let you know that you’re thinking of them.
These people want to be given their partner’s undivided attention with no distractions. This can look different for everyone; some people value a few minutes throughout the day, while others like time set aside to really be in each other’s company.
How: This can include going on a walk, doing a fun, high-energy activity together or even just cuddling on the sofa with a movie. This brings me to the final love language…
While this can certainly be sexual for couples, it also encapsulates more. Being physically close and intimate with your partner can help bring you closer together emotionally and create a sense of physical security.
How: Hugs, hand-holding, kissing or just laying together can really help reinforce the feeling of romance. Platonically, this can be linking arms while walking, or hugs hello and goodbye.
Hopefully, this has helped you to understand your own needs within a relationship and identify your partners. There are multiple online quizzes to aid you to figure out your own language, and for them to communicate theirs.
And remember, if you take anything away from this article, it should be as follows: you need to love someone in their love language, not yours.