Getting a handwritten note from a friend, spending hours with a loved one catching up, your partner doing the grocery shopping, or taking out the trash– these are all ways we can feel loved and cared for. These different methods of expressing love can be boiled down to five main types, also known as the five love languages.

How was the love languages idea created?

The five love languages is a concept developed by a man named Gary Chapman, and he’s written many books around this topic. The love languages are the main ways people give and receive love. I’ve heard quite a bit about the love languages in the past few years, but this idea and Chapman’s writings on it have been around since 1995. Chapman has a master’s in anthropology and a Ph.D. in philosophy and spent many years developing this idea and studying couples.

The five love languages are the five main ways people can give and receive love. Although people may give and receive love in many ways, there are one or two main languages that make them feel most loved and allow them to express their love fully. Love languages can be useful not only in romantic relationships but all relationships you have. Knowing your romantic partner or friend’s love language allows you to care for them in a way that makes them feel most seen and loved and allows them to do the same for you.

What are the five love languages?

  • Words of affirmation: expressing your love or admiration for someone through words, and feeling most loved when they do the same for you.
  • Acts of service: surprising your partner with lunch or doing a chore for them is your way of showing you care, and having someone do acts of service for you makes you feel most loved as well.
  • Quality time: You express your love for someone by spending quality time with them. You spend intentional, specific time with them free from distraction. Someone doing this for you also makes you feel loved.
  • Physical touch: You express your love through touch and feel most loved this way as well. Physical touch can include anything from hugs, to hand-holding, to sitting next to one another, to sex making you feel most loved.
  • Receiving gifts: You feel most loved when someone goes out of their way to give you a gift. You express your love for someone best by giving them a gift as well.

How do I learn my love languages?

Human beings are complex, so of course, not everyone will have one specific love language, but a mix of many. Your main love language is the way you feel most loved; this doesn’t mean other forms of expression don’t make you feel good too. There’s a free quiz on the love languages website where you can find out the ranking of your love languages. There are also different variations of the quiz for children, couples, single people, and teenagers.

My ranking is words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. If someone sends me a meaningful text or tells me they love me, that makes me feel so good. I also express my love for others through compliments and affirmations. Quality time is a close second for me. 

What can I do with this knowledge?

Knowing the love language of the people in your life can improve your relationships. For example, I scored a 0 for receiving gifts when I took the quiz. If I had a partner whose number one was receiving gifts and words of affirmation were low on their list, we could easily make each other feel unloved if we didn’t know this. If my partner feels most loved receiving and giving gifts, but I only write them love notes and handwritten cards, they won’t feel my love for them in a way that speaks to them.

Chapman has written several books on the topic, plus the quiz and other recourses are available on the website. I encourage you to take the quiz and start asking your friends, partners, and family what their love language is so you can all love each other the best you can. Being in touch with your feelings and how you feel best expressing yourself is important and will only help strengthen your relationships and enrich your life.