Love Languages

Have you ever been asked – “what is your love language?” or thought about why you or your partner are not as satisfied as you could be in your relationship? Well, through this article, we hope to decode how you give and receive love. 

The concept of love languages was coined by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” The 5 love languages he mentions are as follows – 

What are the 5 Love languages?

  1. Words of Affirmation: This way of giving and receiving love involves verbal expressions of love and appreciation. Individuals who respond well to this language often value compliments, encouragement, and kind words. Research has shown that praise and validation can significantly impact one’s sense of self-worth and can lead to greater relationship quality.
  2. Acts of Service: People who communicate in this language enjoy doing things for one’s partner that show love and care. This may include performing household chores, cooking a meal, or completing a task for one’s partner. Studies have found that individuals who value acts of service tend to feel more supported and loved when their partner helps them in this way.
  3. Gifts: There are some individuals who value the exchange of tangible gifts as a way of expressing love and appreciation. Research has shown that gift-giving can be a powerful way of strengthening emotional bonds in a relationship.
  4. Quality Time: Some individuals enjoy spending time together in a meaningful way. This may include engaging in shared interests or simply spending time in each other’s company. It is arguably the most common love language. 
  5. Physical Touch: _ The best way for some individuals to show love is physical contact as a way of expressing love and affection. Research has shown that physical touch can have a powerful impact on emotional well-being and can help to strengthen feelings of intimacy and connection in a relationship.

Now that we have elaborated on the 5 love languages Chapman’s book mentions, which one love language sounds the most like you?  Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who had a different love language than you? How did you navigate it? Can love languages change? If so, what factors do you think influence this? Most of all, how do we develop a love language in the first place?

Children & Love Languages:

Love, in childhood – especially as shown by key caregivers, becomes the template by which children learn how to give and receive love. According to research, children learn from an early age  how  to express and receive love. Knowing and speaking their love language can help parents build stronger bonds with their children and improve their overall relationship and emotional well-being.

Children will speak and understand one primary love language the best, although they may develop more later. Those who do not feel as loved by their parents and peers will also develop a primary love language, however it will be somewhat distorted in a similar way as learning poor grammar or an underdeveloped vocabulary. However, with useful intervention such as therapy, this is a muscle that can be further developed.

Romantic Relationships & Love Languages:

The desire for romantic love is deeply rooted in our psychological makeup. 

Since we all speak different love languages, we must be willing to learn and share our love languages with  our partner if we are to be effective communicators of love. _

  • How people can learn each other’s love languages:
    • Observe their behavior and yours to gauge their love language
    • Take the love languages test
    • Ask them: Have an open and honest conversation with them about what actions or behaviors make them feel loved and valued
    • Be patient and understanding: Learning each other’s love languages can take time and effort. Expressing love in someone’s preferred love language is a skill that can be developed over time with practice and commitment
  • Ways of discovering your own love language:
    • Reflect on your childhood and past relationships 
    • Pay attention to how you express love and how you would like to receive it. (can be observational, practiced by mindfulness etc.)
    • Experiment: Try expressing love in each of the five love languages and see which ones feel most natural and rewarding to you. For example, try giving your partner a thoughtful gift and see how it makes you feel. Or, try spending quality time with a friend and see if it leaves you feeling more connected.
    • Have conversations with people about their love languages and ask your close ones what they think yours might be.
    • Take a quiz –
  • How partners can better understand and utilize their love language to better their relationship
    • Communicate openly with  your partner about your love language and ask them about theirs. Be honest about what they can do to understand your love language better.
    • Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to expressing love in someone’s preferred love language. Don’t give up!
    • Make an effort to speak their love language when you learn it: make a conscious effort to express love in a way that is meaningful to them. It can be in simple forms such as a hug or a few words of appreciation
    • Use it as a tool for problem-solving: For example, if your partner’s love language is quality time and they’re feeling neglected, you can make an effort to spend more one-on-one time with them to help them feel loved and connected.

Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to express love. Identifying your own love language can help you communicate your emotional needs more effectively and build stronger, more fulfilling relationships.

Limitations of the Love Language Theory:

Keep in mind that it has been almost 30 years since the publication of Chapman’s Book on love languages. While the love language theory has gained popularity and has been helpful for many people in understanding their emotional needs and communication styles, there are also some limitations to consider:

  1. Oversimplification: The love languages theory reduces complex emotional needs and communication styles to only five categories, which may not fully capture the nuances of individuals’ experiences. For example, someone who has been sexually assaulted may prefer physical touch as their love language, but may not be comfortable with it yet as they have traumatic experiences associated with touch.
  2. Lack of scientific validation: The theory has not been extensively studied or validated by scientific research, which means that it may not have empirical support.
  3. Can reinforce gender stereotypes: The love languages theory can reinforce gender stereotypes, such as the idea that women prefer acts of service and men prefer physical touch. This can be limiting and lead to inaccurate assumptions about individuals’ needs and preferences.
  4. May not apply to all cultures: The love languages theory is based on a Western cultural perspective, and may not apply to all cultures or communities. Different cultures may have different norms and expectations around how emotions are expressed and communicated.
  5. Not a one-size-fits-all solution: While the love languages theory can be helpful for some people, it may not work for everyone. People have unique emotional needs and communication styles that may require a more personalized approach.

Bottom Line:

Love is a complex and multifaceted emotion that plays a central role in our lives. The theory on love languages developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, is a framework that can help individuals to better understand their own and their partner’s needs, leading to stronger emotional connections and happier, healthier relationships. Understanding and speaking your partner’s love language can have a significant positive impact on relationship satisfaction, but keep in mind that the theory also has its limitations.