What are 5 Love Languages
Do you understand What are 5 Love Languages? Here’s an explanation of what they are and how to use them.
“What’s your love language?” have you ever been asked?
You most likely have. Because the concept, pioneered by counsellor and pastor Gary Chapman and expanded upon in a series of books, has spread far and wide. The five love languages refer to the five simple ways that we want to be shown love’s near me and how we show love to others.
I’m a relationship researcher, and while I haven’t done any empirical research on the love languages concept, others have. Some published studies support the validity of love languages, revealing that they can improve relationship satisfaction and longevity.
What I appreciate about love languages is that they express a fundamental truth. A common sense idea is implicit in the concept: we do not all feel or experience love in the same way. Some of us are only satisfied when we hear the words “I love you,” others value quality time together, and still others feel most cared for when our partner scrubs the toilet.
In this sense, love is similar to a country’s currency: one coin or bill has great value in one country, less value in neighbouring countries, and zero value in many others. It’s critical in relationships to understand the emotional currency of the people we care about, and identifying their language of love is part of that.
The five languages of love are a highly effective set of tools to have in your relational toolkit, regardless of your situation — whether you live alone, spend 24/7 with a partner or roommates, live with adult children, or guide younger children through virtual school. When we understand another person’s love language, we can choose gestures that will be most meaningful to our partner, friend, parent, or child. And once we understand which actions speak to us and make us feel loved, we can ask others for exactly what we require.
While there are plenty of online quizzes to determine your love language, it’s simple to determine yours and your loved ones’ by observing what makes them happy, what gifts they give you (because many of us bestow on others what we would most like), and what their ideal day would look and feel like.
Here’s an overview of the five languages and how they can be used and optimised — even in the midst of a pandemic.
Love language #1: Words of affirmation
Those of us who value verbal connection value words of affirmation. They want to know exactly what you appreciate or admire about them. “I really liked it when you made dinner last night,” “Wow, it was so nice of you to organise that neighbourhood bonfire,” or simply “I love you.”
You could make a short video to send to people in your life who you are unable to see in person due to the pandemic. My kindergarten-aged goddaughter and I haven’t seen each other in over a year, but we still text each other silly videos of us saying — or even singing — what we miss most about each other.
And remember that even small gestures matter to the people you see all the time these days. This is my primary love language, and my 29-year-old husband is aware of it. When I wake up and walk into the kitchen, there’s usually a sweet post-it note next to a glass of ice water on the counter (another love language — an act of service).
Love language #2: Acts of service
Some of us feel the most loved when others help us or do something nice for us. My friend is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, which puts her at high risk for COVID-19 and other infections. Knowing that her love language is acts of service, a group of neighbours snuck over in the dead of night in December and filled the flower pots in front of her house with holiday flowers and sprigs. Others have agreed to shovel her driveway throughout the winter. (This is Minnesota, so big love.)
You could be proactive in your home and do something to ease your person’s daily grind. Why not tackle a chore that everyone avoids, such as cleaning the oven, changing the litter box, scraping ice off the car, or loading and running the dishwasher? Seeing someone intentionally scanning the environment to figure out what they can do to make their environment better sends a clear and loving message to anyone whose love tank is filled up by people pitching in.
Love language #3: Gifts
Those of us who express our love through gifts aren’t necessarily materialistic. Instead, their tanks are replenished when someone gives them something, tangible or intangible, that makes them feel special. True, it is the thought that counts.
While out shopping for your family, pick up your roommate’s favourite kombucha or seltzer and leave it at their door. Our daughter is a junior in college, and we know she’ll love what’s in the box that will soon arrive in the mail: a small package covered in valentine stickers and containing her favourite chocolates, coffee gift cards, and a framed picture of our family dogs, Fred and George. It’s a heartfelt gesture that will fill both her mailbox and her emotional bank account.
Love language #4: Quality time
For those whose love language is quality time, having another person’s undivided, dedicated attention is valuable currency. Spending quality time together can be difficult in this time of COVID-19 and quarantining. However, thanks to advances in technology, it is now one of the most accessible.
Make a concerted effort to schedule Zoom coffee dates with colleagues you’ve been missing, or go on long walks with your in-laws. Schedule a weekly phone call with your best friend, or plan an in-house date night with your partner or spouse — no phones or “I’m just going to turn on the TV for a second” distractions allowed. Nothing says “I love you” better in quality time language than making them the only thing on your agenda.
Love language #5: Physical touch
Expressing the language of physical touch can be as simple as giving a friend a fist bump when she tells you she got an interview for her dream job or as intimate as kissing your partner at the end of the day.
I know that spending too much time in the same small space has caused a rub — literally. They’d give anything to have fewer people touching them at fewer times of the day. At the same time, those who live alone or who isolate themselves due to exposure or health risks are experiencing the painful opposite: a lack of touch.
While there are no simple solutions in either case, we can be inventive. If you know someone who is feeling overwhelmed by the small hands reaching for them, you could offer to take the kids to a park so they can burn off some energy. Try emailing an outline of your hand to loved ones who are touch-deprived and instructing them to place their hand on the image while imagining your hand on theirs. Even thinking about a warm embrace – which you can do by texting friends and family members with the hug or hugging face emoji and telling them you wish you could do it in person – can cause their brain to produce some of the same endorphins as an actual hug.
Love languages are an important concept to learn during this pandemic — and at this time in the world. We were already experiencing an epidemic of loneliness long before COVID arrived on the scene. Loneliness is more than just being alone; it is also the absence of satisfying emotional connections. We can strengthen our relationships and bonds with others by taking the time to learn each other’s love languages and then using them.