Communication problems are an extremely common issue in budding relationships. Why don’t they compliment you more often? Don’t they appreciate it when you present them with thoughtful gifts? More often than not, small questions like this can lead to much larger arguments that question affections and intentions. But what if (stay with me here) they aren’t trying to purposely hurt your feelings by brushing off your displays of affection? What if your way of saying “I love you” is just different than theirs (whaaaaat!?)?
Let me tell you about Dr. Gary Demonte Chapman. Chapman is a Ph.D. and church pastor who has dedicated his time to understanding the interworkings of relationships. Chapman coined the concept of “love languages”, explaining that we tend to express and receive love in five ways:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
If you’ve been in a new relationship, or have even gotten recently engaged or married, I’m sure someone has shoved Dr. Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love that Lasts” in your face, prompting you to read it. You might also have seen in your Google search results that this book was originally written in 1995. But I assure you, the book has been revised a number of times; as recently as 2017. The book also has multiple iterations, catering specifically to couples, single people, children, workplace relationships and even to those in the military. Dr. Chapman’s work still has relevance today.
My advice to you? Read on. Of the five languages, you’ll definitely see that you have a personal favorite… and so will your partner. Psych2Go presents to you an easy guide to the 5 love languages.
1. Words of Affirmation
Are you someone who likes to hear “I love you” as often as possible? Does it make you melt when your partner gives you out-of-the-blue compliments? Is it a non-negotiable for you to hear all of these things from your partner on the daily? If the answer is yes to all of the above, Words of Affirmation is your love language of choice.
Those who fall under this love language category love to be showered in verbal affirmation from their loved ones. They also tend to be extremely candid about their feelings and are also very likely to tell you just how much you mean to them. To a WoF enthusiast, all words have power. This also means insults and harsh comments can cause some serious emotional damage.
Does this sound like your partner? Make a point to tell them how beautiful they are. Compliment them when you meet them in the day, or when you wake up together in the morning. At bedtime – or at the end of a date night – remind them that you love them and tell them how much spending time with them means to you. It will be up to you to show restraint during an argument: say anything too personal, and you might find yourself in the doghouse for a while.
2. Quality Time
If your love language is quality time, you want nothing more than to have your partner’s undivided attention. Words are not important to you – it’s the time that you spend bonding together that counts. People who love quality time love to set up dates with their partners. The time, place or activity doesn’t matter, as long as it means they’ll be able to have their partners to themselves.
Quality time lovers may not need constant “I love you’s,” but they do need to see that you are present, and listening to them. Distractions, like being on your phone for long periods of time or trying to keep an eye on the Youtube video you’re watching, can make these people feel un-special or unimportant. So put the distractions away and listen!
3. Receiving Gifts
And I’m not talking about jewelry and expensive dinners! This love language is more than just materialism. Gift enthusiasts love the time and effort – and the thoughtfulness- it takes for their partners to give something that caters to their tastes and personality. This can be a daunting love language to appease. But gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive! A sweet card, their favorite candy bar, a surprise night out to their favorite bar. It’s all about showing them that you care enough to know what they like.
Be warned. Gift enthusiasts tend to take special events very seriously and failing to make the day special can cause a whole lot of hurt feelings, and one heck of an argument. My advice? Save anniversaries and birthdays on your phone-calendars and set some reminders! Give yourself a month in advance. Then set an alert for a week in advance. Last minute gifts are obvious and thoughtless, so it’s best to play things safe.
4. Acts of Service
This one’s probably a biggie for any of you who are shacked up together. Is doing the dishes love? Dr. Chapman sure thinks so. People who gravitate toward acts of service as their favorite love language see actions like this as a way of easing some of the responsibility that weighs on them. Making them dinner or even putting gas in their car tells them that you are committed to their well-being and happiness.
Want to hurt the feelings of a person under this love language category? Failing to do your part of the chores and constantly using the phrase “go do it yourself” will do the trick. Of course they can reach over and pick up the TV remote. But they asked you, and they even said please. All they want to hear is “of course, here you go.” Things like this might seem tedious to someone who prefers a different love language, but the courtesy of acts will fill an AoS lover with joy.
5. Physical Touch
This one’s my most prominent love language. This love language isn’t necessarily all about sex. But it is about being touchy! People who fall under this love language enjoy physical forms of affection. These people are the most likely to greet their partners with an embrace and a kiss. They also love all forms of PDA: handholding, resting their head on your shoulder, face caresses… you name it.
People who enjoy physical touch as their main love language use these touches to show various emotions. They may grab you when they are scared or anxious. They may rub your back or take your hand when they are concerned about you. Physical touch is important for any relationship because our bodies respond positively to romantic touch. But if physical touch is your main love language, having a partner who refuses to allow these interactions can cause insecurity and anxious thought patterns (Am I being punished? What did I do wrong?).
Now, remember, there’s no reason to worry if you identify with one of these love languages and your partner, another. It is completely possible to date someone with a different love language of preference than you! All it takes is communication and observation. It is also important to keep in mind that we are not limited to just one love language. Everyone uses all five to a degree, but there is always one – sometimes two – that we value the most.
Take the time to assess yourself. What do you generally need from a relationship? What are some things that you feel your partner should do to keep you happy? What might annoy you? Think about the answers, and share them with your partner. “This is what I need from you in order to feel appreciated.” Observe your partner. Do they tend to fish for compliments? Maybe you should be giving them more words of affirmation. Do they always seem to be reaching for your hand? Physical touch may just be their main love language.
Want to learn more about the 5 love languages? Dr. Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love that Lasts” is available for purchase at most major book retailers, and on his website, 5lovelanguages.com. Head over there now to take a quiz to learn what your love language is!
What do you think? Did a love language catch your eye? Which one do you think is yours? Let Psych2Go know down in the comment section below!
Chapman, Gary D., and Jocelyn Green. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Northfield Publishing, 2017.
Moody, and LaCroix Design Co. “Discover Your Love Language.” The 5 Love Languages®, www.5lovelanguages.com/.
Edited by Viveca Shearin