Understanding the 5 love languages

Reading time: ±3 min.

We all give and receive love in different ways, says psychologist Dr Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Learning yours can help you to better navigate your relationships.

Some of us express our love with hugs, others with gifts and others with undivided attention. Dr Chapman breaks down how people communicate their love to others (and how they prefer to receive it).

1. Words of affirmation

You value verbal and written acknowledgements of love most. This includes ‘I love yous’, verbal encouragement (including texts, interactions on social media and phone calls) and compliments on your character or physical appearance.

2. Quality time

You feel most loved when your partner makes time for you. This includes eye contact, active listening and being fully present when you are with them.

3. Receiving gifts

You value ‘visual symbols’ of love in the form of gifts. This doesn’t mean you place monetary value on love, but you appreciate the symbolic gesture. You think about the thought that went into the gift, the meaning behind it and how you feel when you receive it.

4. Physical touch

You feel most loved when you’re shown physical affection. This includes kisses, hugs, hand-holding, cuddling and sexual intimacy.

5. Acts of service

You value love in the form of actions. It’s usually what could make your day easier. For example, someone running errands or doing chores for you.

How do you express love?

With a little observation, you can identify your love language:

  • Ask yourself how you show love to others. Are you always initiating family gatherings? Your primary language could be quality time.
  • If you’re in a relationship, what do you most expect your partner to do for you? If you find yourself asking for regular massages or cuddles, your primary language could be physical touch.
  • Pay attention to things you complain about. If your partner goes on a trip and you ask why they didn’t bring you a gift, your love language could be receiving gifts.

You can also take the quiz to find out how you express love.

Improve your relationship

The best way to build a healthy relationship is through open communication and continually finding time to connect. Psychologist Carey Bremridge suggests you regularly ask your partner how they would like you to express your love to them. You should also give them time to learn what you like. When you both understand each other’s needs you can:

  • Create intimacy: Regularly talking to your partner about the way you’d like to receive love can create better understanding and intimacy between you.
  • Be more empathetic: As you begin to understand more about how your partner gives and wants to receive love, you begin to empathise with them.
  • Grow: Personal growth involves stepping outside of yourself and being aware of others. By taking your partner’s love language into account, you learn to see the bigger picture of your relationship.
  • Share your love meaningfully: When you start showing your partner love in their primary language, it becomes more significant.

For more advice on love and relationships, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.


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