Dr. Gary Chapman’s #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (1995), seems like many other self-help books that help you find love or change your life, but the book remains highly discussed in academic and interpersonal circles – and for good reason. Readers and psychologists are in agreement that the research done to back up the five love languages are useful and practical.
Chapman introduces the idea that there are five love languages that romantic partners use to convey their love and affection towards each other: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts and acts of service. Couples who don’t understand how to express their love using the love “language” his or her partner “speaks” will be less likely to sustain a fulfilling relationship. Even when two people love each other very much, both can end up not feeling loved by the other. If you send out your love message the way in which you want it returned, yet you and your partner speak different love languages, it will not register deeply for them, nor will you get it back in your desired language. Below is a breakdown of each love language.
Touch is the first language we use to communicate as infants and plays a crucial part in our development. According to Katherine Harmon of Scientific American (2010), “Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up.” Physical touch is crucial in creating and strengthening romantic relationships. Holding hands, kissing, hugging or cuddling on the couch can help your partner feel loved and cared for especially if this is their primary love language.
Words of Affirmation
This is the most common of the love languages, according to Chapman. This is based on the responses of 10,000 people who took the online quiz on his website in December 2010. If you or your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, you can make them feel loved by telling them how much you love and appreciate their hard work or complimenting their appearance. Using affirmative words like “love,” “beautiful” and “graceful” when interacting improve our brain-functions, resulting in increased cognitive reasoning and strengthened frontal lobes.
The key to this expression of love is the idea of quality over quantity. Chapman explains, “Quality time is giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television. I mean sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking.” Scheduling the time to be together and to be fully present is crucial to the success of your relationship.
According to HuffPost, gifts give partners a tangible symbol of love to hold onto. The gift receiver appreciates the thoughtfulness behind the gift giving. Whether it’s a great birthday present or something as small as bringing home their favorite magazine from a trip to the drugstore, flowers, or your partners favorite snack, any of these will profoundly demonstrate your love, if your partner “speaks” love in the language of gifts.
Acts of Service
The familiar saying, “actions speak louder than words,” is popular for many reasons. Showing love through an action like cleaning or offering to run errands when your partner is tired or sick, shows that you care. A partner who prefers words of affirmation may also enjoy these benefits but the one who prefers acts of service, will appreciate this act exponentially in comparison.
A woman always gives nice gifts to her man and her husband brings in the groceries consistently for years, details her car, and helps with the dishes, yet her heart would overflow if he would get her balloons and a new outfit for her birthday. A man regularly offers to massage his partner’s back and feet and his female partner continues to shower him with words of affirmation such as, “You’re such an amazing dad and provider,” and he longs for her to touch him while she longs for him to praise her. It’s natural to give what you seek. It’s truly a language that you’re expressing without even thinking about it. If you are drawn to a partner with one or more shared top love languages, then you’re already ahead of the game! You are more likely to feel mutual relationship satisfaction.
If you do not share one or more love language preferences, then you both must learn to bend outside of your comfort zones to meet your partner’s need for love. If you struggle with giving constant physical touch and prefer to just spend quality time doing a shared activity, don’t choose a partner with touch as their primary language. Preventing this type of language barrier in a love relationship can be the most important choice you make. While people often care more about sharing hobbies with their partner, they would be wise to focus on sharing a language of love as a top priority. You can play tennis together too, but you won’t ever truly score unless you start with love.
One company who is well-versed in the psychology of love languages is SEI Club, a private dating and matchmaking service that helps individuals “meet the right person.” They guide singles through their dating journey and assist them in finding “the one.” Love languages play a significant role in this and assisting clients in understanding these five languages is key to success in dating and finding a life-long partner.