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Five ways to say I love you: Discovering your love language

Updated on February 29, 2016

The five Love Languages

Dr. Gary Chapman discovered a way for people to understand why they were not feeling very loved. There are actually five ways to show love to someone else, and the real challenge is most people who fall in love do not show their love in the same way. The Five Love Languages, according to Dr. Chapman, are Gift Giving, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. Understanding your own love language is only half the challenge, the other challenge is discovering the love language of your partner to truly enjoy being in love.

Dr Gary Chapman giving an overview of the Love Languages

Gift Giving

The art of Gift Giving is meant to show the person you are thinking of them and you care about their likes and passions. These do not have to be expensive gifts, but they do need to be well thought out and personal to the person receiving. Those people who feel love by receiving gifts often give little gifts (or big gifts depending on their budget) to those they love. When the gift is not accepted the way it was intended, the giver feels hurt and neglected. It is important to realize not everyone understands the power of gift giving. Small, hand crafted gifts can be more loved than fancy bought gifts, especially if the thought is about the person receiving.

Acts of Service

Acts of Service are meant to be done to help the person’s life, to make some aspect of their day easier or better. Cleaning the kitchen or finishing a chore for the other person is a great example. Helping them without being asked is the key to making sure this gift is doing the most it can for the other person. People who have this love language may say things like “You never DO anything for me anymore,” or “Do I really have to tell you what to do every day?” Many people who have this language are able to see what needs to be done and then when the task is completed want the recognition for a job well done. They want the act to be noticed and appreciated, and if it is not, then they are more hurt than people realize.

Quality Time

Quality Time is spending time together with no other distractions. Spending time in conversation, enjoying a movie or simply enjoying each other’s presence is the essence of this love language. It is important you are not doing something that will distract you or force you to leave the area while you are spending time together. People who appreciate Quality Time will often say, “You never spend time with me anymore.” This means the right activities are not being done, and the time is not being spent in building the relationship. Just spending time together is not enough; both people have to understand this is time that is building the relationship and the love between the two people.

Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation can be difficult for some people. These are words that make someone feel better about themselves. It is more than just saying “I love you” it is truly meaning the compliment being offered. If someone is in a relationship with a person with this love language the spoken word can be a double sided sword. Everything said can be taken as a great compliment or a horrible insult. Remember that the spoken word will go straight to the heart of someone who has this love language. They need to understand you care by what you say to them and how you say it.

Physical Touch

Physical Touch is not just about sex. This is a love language that is literally felt above all else. When skin touches skin. Everything from hugs to kisses, to holding hands or a back rub. The power of human touch is critical to the person feeling loved or not. Being hit or worse, (and for someone who has physical touch as a love language, this is worse, believe me) being not touched at all is horrible neglect. Not feeling connected or appreciated by feeling physical touch is painful to someone like this. They need to know that the way they will feel love is to truly FEEL loved. There are many ways to show love with someone who appreciates physical touch, and it does not have to all be leading to a bedroom or other “encounters.” J

How to find your loved one's Love Language

Another challenge people have is identifying their loved ones Love Language. Most people understand what their primary language is, but fewer will understand they have more than one. There is usually a primary and a secondary and both can help you feel loved by your partner. To fully understand how to show your partner you love them is by watching how they express their love for you. We do what we are most comfortable with and typically people show others love by their own love language. If you spend some time watching and being open to whatever they do to show love then you can understand what their love language is. Make sure you listen and watch how they show you love, the more you listen and spend time with them to more you are going to understand what language they use to express their love for you. One problem is too many people assume because they feel love with one language than their partner does too. More often than not, two people in a relationship do NOT share the same love languages. It is necessary to become bi-lingual to show love and know that the other person is actually feeling loved by what you are doing. It is really hard for some people to learn a new love language, but the results are more than worth it. To feel appreciated and loved in the way that warms your heart the fastest and to know that you are showing love the way your partner needs to feel it the most can help keep your love burning brightly.

When nothing seems to be working...

There are a few people who do not know what their love language is and may not understand love at all. The trick here is to see what they appreciate the most and build their love language. Spend a week expressing only one love language at a time. One of those weeks will create a spark or a noticeable difference in the person’s behavior. That is their love language. Then the couple can work on making the love language stronger by simply living into using just that language. Normally if you discover your partner’s love language, you are set (as long as you actually use it) because people do not change their languages they feel and express love with. They are going to understand love the way they feel the most love themselves. If you want more information, please check out Dr. Chapman’s website it has a quiz that will help people understand which language they hold the most dear.

What is your Love Language

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    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 6 years ago

      I love this and this book is so amazingly important to all families and relationships. I have two wonderful children and a lovely husband and all three have their own primary love language as do I. When I became aware of this information a few years back life for me changed as understanding ones love language makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for the overview for all. God Bless

    • Rev. Akins profile image

      Rev. Akins 6 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      My wife and I realized the secondary language is just as important as the first. My primary is physical touch but acts of service are important too. My wife's are quality time and acts of service, so we have done well with the secondary ones. Learning a new language is hard, I hope the two of you enjoy sharing and using each other's love language. :)

    • LoriSoard profile image

      LoriSoard 6 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

      This really does work. I used to think my love language was touch, but then realized how irritating that is to me when done to access. I think the quality time works best for me. My hubby's is the acts of service.