You may have encountered the term "love language" countless times already. You may or may not have any idea what it truly means or its various types.
So, what is love language?
To put it simply, love language is how a person feels loved the most. It can also be interpreted as a way in which a person best expresses affection for their significant other.
Gary Chapman first introduced the concept of love language in his book entitled "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate".
Chapman shares five general types of love languages, namely receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.
It is important to remember that love languages vary from person to person. Some people best express and receive love through physical touch, while some prefer hearing or saying words of affirmation from their partners or spouse.
Ever wonder what your love language is? Do you know your partner's love language? Often, it can be frustrating for partners to communicate their needs because they do not acknowledge, let alone know, the other person's love language.
The Five Types of Love Language
For a relationship to succeed, it is imperative to understand more about the different types of love languages. Through this, you can know what way you best express your love and what way you demand to be loved.
1. Words of Affirmation
Are you the type of person in the relationship who prefers hearing words of affection and affirmation from your partner? Do you prefer affirming your partner all the time? If yes, then your love language is words of affirmation.
People whose love language is through words of affirmation would frequently say "I love you's," words of appreciation and encouragement. They also like to write down their words of affirmation in notes for their significant other to read.
People who possess this love language often express their affirmation through texts and social media engagement, given our digital way of communicating.
Just as they prefer giving words of affirmation, they also desire their significant other to reciprocate these efforts. However, some people may not voice it out, which can negatively affect the relationship.
2. Quality Time
Do you cherish spending quality time with your significant other? Does it bother you if you and your partner have not spent quality time together lately? If the description fits you, then your love language is quality time.
People whose love language is through spending quality time feels most loved whenever they hang out with their significant other.
However, quality time is not simply spending time together frequently. It must include active listening, eye contact, and giving each other your full attention.
In some instances, spending quality time with your significant other does not necessarily mean that you have to be physically together. It can even include going on virtual dates and chatting online.
What matters most when it comes to expressing affection through sharing quality time together is that both parties give each other their undivided attention and aim to share meaningful conversations and activities.
3. Acts of Service
Do you appreciate it the most when your significant other helps you do daily chores or work? Do you look for a partner who will be there, especially when you need to be cared for? If yes, then your love language is through acts of service.
To put it simply, acts of service as a love language are an expression of thoughtful gesture. Those who prefer expressing and receiving love through acts of service appreciate it the most when their partner takes the initiative to make them safe and cared for.
Do you prefer receiving meaningful gifts from your partner? Do you appreciate your partner the most when they put a lot of thought into the gift-giving?
Sending and receiving gifts is probably the most common way of expressing one's love for another person. People whose love language is through receiving or giving visual symbols of love look not at the gift's monetary value but rather the thought put into such giving.
5. Physical Touch
Are you the type of person who enjoys cuddling, holding hands, and making love to your partner? Do you often use physical touch to express your love for your significant other?
Physical touch is another common type of love language that stems from childhood experience. Those who grew up in a household where physical touch is used as a way to show affection grow up yearning for this love language.
Through physical touch, people can be more emotionally connected with each other. The comfort and warmth felt through cuddling, kissing, hugging, and other acts of physical touch serve as a great way of affirming love towards each other.
Related: Wants and Needs in a Relationship
What is the most common love language?
A 2010 online quiz reveals that the most common love language (among 10,000 people) is words of affirmation. However, a more recent finding in 2018 tells that quality time is the most common love language.
However, a specific love language being common depends on various variables such as gender, culture, customs, and values of a person. Love languages common in most western countries can be different from other cultures across the world.
For example, some cultures, like in South Africa, discourage directly praising someone, while most Eastern cultures frown upon public display of affection.
Related: Female personality types
Why is it important to acknowledge love language in a relationship
While speaking in similar love languages does not immediately guarantee that a relationship is sure to succeed, acknowledging and trying to have individual needs met in the relationship can be a great indicator of a healthy and long-lasting relationship.
How can you best communicate using your partner's love language?
If you want to communicate well with your partner through speaking in their love language, here are some tips you can follow depending on the type of love language.
Words of Affirmation
- Think thoroughly about what to say.
- Always genuinely voice out that you love them.
- Appreciate the little things more often.
- Always compliment your partner.
- When criticizing, always make sure that it is constructive.
- Give out words of encouragement whenever they need it.
- Spend more time together.
- Give your partner your undivided attention.
- Listen and engage in the conversation.
- Make time for spending quality time.
- Avoid scrolling through your phone and other distractions.
Acts of Service
- Show your love through your actions.
- Offer your help to your partner with chores and work.
- Find out how you can make everyday life easier for your partner.
- Lend a hand to easen her responsibilities.
- Talk about your expectations from each other.
- Ask them first if they prefer to receive gifts.
- Put a lot of thought into your gift.
- Gifts do not necessarily need to be expensive.
- Think about what sincerely makes your partner happy.
- Clarify what forms of physical touch your partner is comfortable with.
- Offer emotional comfort to your partner through hugging, kissing, cuddling, and other forms of physical touch.
- Give your partner random gentle kisses on the forehead, lips, or elsewhere.
- Even in a public setting, gently caress your partner to make sure you notice them.
Disadvantages of Love Language Theory
We first heard the idea of the love languages in Gary Chapman's book in 1992. While it brings several advantages to strengthening a romantic relationship, many people can't help but criticize how acceptable this concept is in creating a healthy relationship.
Chapman initially meant the love language theory to become a way for partners to adapt themselves to their significant other's love language.
Unfortunately, as time went on, many people used this theory to categorize their personalities, especially in the relationship context. Eventually, it results in people limiting how they act in the relationship and can even create unrealistic expectations sometimes.
Another problem with this theory is that people seem to assume that speaking each other's love languages would magically create a healthier and happier relationship.
Being in tune with your partner's love language does not necessarily guarantee a successful relationship. Relying on love languages alone to navigate through the relationship will eventually be frustrating in the process as it will not suffice in the long run.
Moreover, solely relying on making sure your partner's love languages are acknowledged can lead to feelings of unhealthy codependency because we limit each other to a specific love language instead of genuinely making room for growth.
At the end of the day, the best love language that every partner must be willing to communicate in is by constantly checking what both you and your partner need to grow in the relationship.
We should never take love languages at face value as people are complex beings. They are just mere suggestions on how you can express your affection for your significant other.
The only way you can ever be truly sure about what your partner's love language is is by asking them yourself and taking the time to get to know them better.
By then, you will have enough knowledge on sharing a healthier and more fulfilling relationship by using love languages to your advantage.
Nicole Graham is a relationship expert at Womenio.com. She is helping women grow into their best selves so they can be confident and bring more love, passion, and purpose to their lives. Nicole enjoys studying the psychology of love and is passionate about writing on them. She offers helpful tips and advice to help overcome any relationship issue, whether you’re single or already in a relationship.