What is Your “Love Language”?

You may have heard your friends talk about it at a dinner party.  Or you may have seen it written in a relationship column somewhere.  Love Languages – what’s it all about?

This concept comes from the influential work of Dr. Gary Chapman and his book, The 5 Love Languages, which has become a staple in the world of couples counselling (and has since been extended to other relationships as well).  According to Dr. Chapman, one of the main issues between couples stems from our tendency to speak different ‘Love Languages’ than our partner.


The 5 Love Languages

Let me explain.  According to this theory, there are five Love Languages, or ways that we communicate love.  Most of us have one or two that for us, best indicate a gesture of love.  These include:  acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch, and although they are distinct categories, how they are defined are quite personal.  To give you a better understand of how they are different, below are some examples:

Acts of service – mopping the floor, car repairs, laundry, helping with a cumbersome task, etc.

Quality time – spending time together in a quality way, such as having a scheduled date night, going hiking together, cooking dinner together.

Receiving gifts – these don’t have to be expensive.  Gifts can represent everything from fancy jewelry to a pair of socks or flowers.

Words of affirmation – “I love you”, “you look great”, “dinner is really tasty!”

Physical touch – massages, cuddling, holding hands, kisses, sex, etc.


Different Needs in Relationships

The problem is that many of us are matched with partners who have different primary love languages than ourselves.  For example, one person may really need to hear the words “I love you” (words of affirmation) in order to feel loved, whereas this may not do much for the other spouse – they may feel most loved when the house is clean when they get home from work (acts of service). 

And as is the case with many things, humans seem to generally have a hard time stepping outside of their own experience and understanding that another person’s can be vastly different.  So it is not surprising that we have the tendency to give to our partner what we like to receive, rather than what our partner needs.  As such, couples can be trying to communicate love to each other but it is gone unnoticed, since they are not speaking the same love language. 


Speaking Each Other’s Language

The good news is that this is a relatively straightforward problem to solve either on your own or through the help of a counsellor.  By identifying each person’s primary love language, couples can begin to see how they can better communicate their love by making efforts to speak the other person’s language.  Once this starts happening, the bond is strengthened, since couples begin to feel much more appreciated and appreciative in the relationship.  And this admiration is the foundation for the friendship that is so essential to the strength relationship.


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