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The Five Love Languages & How To Use Them

Updated on March 8, 2011
There are many ways to say "I Love You."
There are many ways to say "I Love You."

We've all had relationships where we felt we just didn't "speak the same language" as our partners. Somehow, despite all the best intentions, our messages crossed or never seemed to land. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, and hurt feelings built up until the relationship was forced to end, not because of a lack of love, but because we and/or our partners were not feeling loved.

Understanding the five "love languages" put forward in a series of books by Dr. Gary Chapman can help you save such a relationship, if you are in one, or avoid the pain and frustration of all those mixed messages, if you're starting a new one. Not only applicable to romantic relationships, the five love languages are also relevant to platonic relationships, whether with family, friends, or coworkers. If you can identify your own love language, as well as that of the other person, you can communicate your affection and appreciation much more effectively, leading to a happier, more fulfilling relationship for the both of you.

The five love languages, as set forth by Dr. Chapman, are as follows:

Words of Affirmation

Positive verbal reinforcement. If this is your love language, you feel wonderful when someone gives you a genuine compliment. You may feel insecure without encouragement or regular expressions of approval. You feel loved when your partner expresses appreciation for the small things you do.

Quality Time

Periods where you have complete attention. If quality time is your primary love language, you feel neglected without time spent specifically focused on each other, or doing something together that you love to do. You enjoy sharing things you love with others, and feel special when someone else includes you in something they are passionate about.

Receiving Gifts

Physical or visual symbols of affection. If receiving gifts makes you feel loved, that does not mean you are superficial. Some people simply respond to tangible illustrations of the love in a relationship. Different from being a "gold digger," someone who speaks this love language appreciates thoughtful, personal gifts, not necessarily dependent on price. A home-made card or tiny trinket can speak volumes, if well-chosen and suited to the recipient.

Acts of Service

Doing things for a loved one. If this is your dominant love language, you feel loved when someone goes out of their way to make things more pleasant or smooth for you. Examples include: doing chores, cooking dinner, taking care of something that would normally be your responsibility, chipping in without being asked. Most people can relate to this love language, though in very different ways, and it is extremely important to practice this love language out of genuine feeling, rather than duty, to avoid resentment.

Physical Touch

Bodily contact between people. Not restricted to sexual intercourse or intimacy, this love language encompasses all kinds of touch, from hugs to kisses to cuddling. Physical contact can be its own form of communication. If this is your love language, you need your partner to recognize what kinds of touch are pleasant and which are irritating, and focus on increasing the former and reducing the latter.

With all the love languages, it is vital to remember that we each speak our own dialect. All of us can identify with more than one of these expressions of love or affection, though most of us do primarily respond best to one or another of them. We also tend to express love the way we would like to receive it, and if our partners do not communicate in the same love language as we do, this can create a lot of tension and dissatisfaction. Instead, concentrate on identifying your partner's love language, and practice showing affection in ways they will better receive the message. After all, what we all really want is to feel seen and loved.

For more information on the Five Love Languages, visit Dr. Chapman's website, or get your hands on a copy of one of his books.

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    • Tecgram profile image

      Tecgram 7 months ago from Karnal, Haryana

      Nice article with lots of love.

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 2 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      "The nine love languages, as set forth by Dr. Chapman, are as follows:"

      Just so you know, I assumed that nine was a typo. Just deny this comment :)

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 2 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Great hub! Well written and very easy to comprehend. Two thumbs up!

    • profile image

      joel bako 4 years ago

      i thanks the autor of this book 5 love language which i now know my love language which is spending QUALITY TIMEand when time come i will know my partner own i know i have read this book from the alfa to the omega highly recommended

    • profile image

      http://www.yourlovetype.com 5 years ago

      Unlocking Your Love Type is the best scientific approach to identify your natural preferences and features of compatibility in your relationship. Ignoring this information is like trying to navigate a boat in deep sea with no compass or orientation instruments.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      I definitely agree that knowing these different ways of showing and receiving love makes us better able to appreciate our family and friends. I really like this book and definitely consider it one of the key principles in parenting especially. I often find myself sharing this idea with friends when we are discussing parenting issues. Sometimes we just need to "read" the love of someone better.

    • profile image

      rejoyce 5 years ago

      The 5 love languages is a wonderful piece. A must read for everyone who really wish to keep a healthy relationship.

    • profile image

      Thaophique 6 years ago

      This is nice. the five languages do helps in most aspects in relationships. i can tell you that most nigerians had fallout of relationships.

    • JDove-Miller profile image

      JDove-Miller 6 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

      Great hub; great book.

    • Shane Belceto profile image

      Shane Belceto 7 years ago from WA USA

      Thank YOU for simplifying this ... I know for sure mine is touch and do find though I tend to use this one a lot as well and for many as you shared this may or may not be theirss So yes good point in finding out theirs and communicating that way some instead of always ours .. smiles

      ~Expect Miracles

    • profile image

      Mark Are 7 years ago

      I always start reading when it's too late.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Maddie, you've done a great job of presenting Dr. Chapman's love languages. I've begun paying attention to my daughter's favorite love languages to incorporate them into our daily routine. Some of her preferences are not the obvious ones. Believe it or not, she is very sensitive not only to words of affirmation but to RHYTHM and SOUNDS. For instance, Kayla feels very comforted and loved when the washing machine and dryer are on while she is going to sleep or waking up. She actually wakes up in a brighter mood and the day starts on a better note when I remember to simply do the laundry first thing in the morning.

    • ModelElaine profile image

      ModelElaine 8 years ago

      Great summary! This book is a must read!

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 8 years ago from United States

      Nice! I added a link to your hub from one of mine on choosing the right life-partner. Helpful knowledge.

    • Dan L profile image

      Dan L 8 years ago

      Good info ! Thanks !

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 9 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Wonderful hub, thank-you. It is really important to communicate with more than words to your partner, I especially like the mention of physical contact that doesn't necessarily lead to intercourse. I read somewhere once that all we need to feel on top of the world is ten hugs a day. A little touch on the shoulder or an arm wrapped around for a squeeze can make all the difference!

    • WeddingConsultant profile image

      WeddingConsultant 9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Love the hub. My wife and I are still fleshing out our love languages and how to become better at the other's preference. Thanks for the writing!

    • Tasteful Tidbit profile image

      Tasteful Tidbit 9 years ago

      I read the first book. I think all couples should read this book. You might be missing out on advice to boost your relationship.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice hub I hadn't heard of this approach to luv before!

    • crazycat profile image

      crazycat 9 years ago from Philippines

      It's a must of course. We really have to keep the flame alive unless we want to be boring.

    • darkside profile image

      Glen 9 years ago from Australia

      I highly recommend that book. I haven't read the other ones, but the first one was a real eye opener that reinforced a few things that I felt but hadn't realised just how important they were.

    • profile image

      optimisticbob 9 years ago

      Thanks for the reminder. I had read the book and realize that after a few years I was resorting to my own language again.