What did you first think when you saw the title of today’s blog? Was your first thought: French, Spanish, Italian…well, those may be the “Romance” languages in the world of linguistics, but they aren’t what we are referring to when we talk about “Love Languages.”
Love languages refers to 5 concepts that communicate love. They were first identified by Gary Chapman Ph.D. in his book “The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” So, in today’s blog, we’ll be taking a look at these so-called love languages and what they mean. Here’s a quick list of the 5 “languages” Chapman identifies:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
Let’s take a closer look at each of these to see what they’re all about:
1. Words of Affirmation
This is the only one of the 5 love languages that actually pertains to language as we commonly understand it. Those who speak the language of “Words of Affirmation” like to express their love through written language. There’s no limit on medium, either, so these affirmations of love for you might come in the form of love letters, poetry, emails, text messages and perhaps one could argue in the modern context that even certain emojis, gifs and other online media count as well.
Words of affirmation are expressions of love through verbal communication, but it shouldn’t be understood as simply an avenue of the poets and wordsmiths. Even a simple “I love you” said on a daily basis with meaning and true feeling is a strong form of words of affirmation.
2. Quality Time
Now let us look at some of the unwritten love languages among the 5 identified by Chapman. The first one is known as “Quality Time” and as the name suggests, refers to time spent with a loved one and that time itself being an expression of love. For instance, giving up an afternoon you had originally planned to go and play golf in order to spend time with your significant other would be an expression of the “Quality Time” language.
Those who are willing to carve out space and time for others in their lives are the masters of this love language. Those who always allow work and other matters to consume all of their time and don’t make any room for their significant other spouse are failing to express their love in this way. Fortunately for them, there are other love languages that they might look to.
3. Acts of Service
It’s often been said that actions speak louder than words, and that’s what “Acts of Service” as a love language is all about. Where those who share words of affirmation are comfortable with using words to express their feelings, those who use “Acts of Service” will let their actions speak for them.
For instance, if you were to hear of your loved one getting sick, you might drop what you’re doing and go and take them some soup, or pick up medications from the pharmacy for them. You might also help clean up their apartment, do some cooking for them, run errands and more. All of these “Acts of Service” are communicating your love for the other person. This language works particularly well in conjunction with quality time.
Who doesn’t like being spoiled with gifts? When you use gifts as a way of communicating your love for someone, it is one of the 5 love languages. Of course, “Gifts” isn’t a term that refers exclusively to items of high monetary value. An expressive gift is simply one that means something to the recipient. In fact, very often the more it means uniquely to that person, the greater the expression of love that it is.
Finally, we come to the most primal of the love languages, and that is “Touch.” As the name suggests, this is a language spoken through physical touch and connection: from hugs to kisses, from holding hands to being together intimately during sex. Physical expressions of love together form the “Touch” language among Chapman’s 5 love languages.
Is One Love Language Any More Common Than Others?
When looking at the wider population and use of these love languages, are there any indicators as to which one people favor more? Chapman’s own research involved a survey of 10,000 or so people in relationships and found that “Words of Affirmation” was the most common “preferred” language, but only by a very thin margin.
Not only does everyone find their own way to communicate love, but they will naturally make use of more than one, and possibly even all 5 forms of love language. As we touched on further above, things like “Acts of Service” and “Quality Time” clearly go hand in hand. It’s also well known enough that virtually everyone loves “Touch” as a language, even if they’re not so willing to speak openly about it.
Which Love Language is Valued the Most?
Obviously this varies from person to person, but with some self-reflection you can discover which of the 5 languages speaks more clearly to you, and which one is the one you like “hearing” the most. Here is a quick guide to give you some idea of what we mean:
Your Language is “Words of Affirmation” if…
…you get emotional or even cry when you receive strong words of affection from your other half.
…you get excited when you see notes or letters left for you.
…your heart beats a little faster when you get a message on your smartphone and you know it’s from them.
Your Language is “Quality Time” if…
…all of your favorite moments happen when your partner is around.
…the times you most look forward to are when your partner comes home, or comes around to join you for dinner or an evening out.
…your partner will actively make time in their day to spend with you, or will cancel other things in order to spend additional time with you.
Your Language is “Acts of Service” if…
…you are constantly taken aback by how far your partner is willing to inconvenience themselves or go out of their way to make you happy.
…you feel a strong sense of love and gratitude whenever your partner comes in to help you with chores and other tasks, no matter how mundane.
…you start to enjoy previously dull tasks such as doing the dishes when you can do them with a person you love.
Your Language is “Gifts” if…
…you attach sentimental value to every gift from your partner, no matter how seemingly arbitrary.
…you think of your partner fondly every time you look at or pick up the gift they gave you.
…you appreciate and love the efforts of creating gifts as much as the gift itself.
Your Language is “Touch” if…
…sex and physical love helps you feel closer to that person every time you do it.
…you want nothing more each day than to be in your partner’s arms.
…you are excited and feel “electricity” every time your partner touches you.
…even the idea of physical contact with your other half stimulates you and excites you.
Love Languages: Something We Should All Master
We might go through life never learning a second language like Spanish or French, but the 5 love languages are ones that all people can learn and master. The world would be a much better place if people focused on learning these languages and how to better communicate their love for others. Hopefully this will be food for thought and help us all reflect on how well and how often we communicate our love to those around us who need to hear it.