I can’t believe that in the eight years I’ve been writing this blog, I haven’t once touched on the five love languages. It’s pretty unbelievable. Anyway.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “love languages”, let me give you a quick overview.
About a decade ago, Dr. Gary Chapman released a book called The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, which touched on the various ways couples communicate (or fail to communicate) that affect a long term relationship.
He argues that conflict in a relationship can stem from two people having very different approaches to expressing how they feel about each other.
So, for example, while one half of a couple may attempt to show love by an act of service such as washing dishes or cleaning up around the house, the other person may feel like this is simply a basic household chore and instead craves quality time with their spouse.
So what are the 5 love languages exactly? Here’s a brief summary:
The 5 Love Languages
Quality time means you prioritize time spent with your partner above all else. And that doesn’t refer to sitting on the couch, dead-eyed, watching Netflix together, but rather focused, intentional time spent enjoying each other’s company.
Words of Affirmation
Words of Affirmation refers to the act of telling someone how you feel about them. Someone who speaks this love language feels most desired and adored when they receive verbal compliments and kind words such as “you look amazing” or “I feel so lucky to be with you”. While gestures or actions might not hold much weight, hearing the phrase “I love you” means everything.
Gift giving is fairly self explanatory. This love language is best expressed through thoughtful presents or tokens of appreciation such as flowers, jewelry, books, trips, etc. It’s not necessarily about the monetary value of the gift — though for some, that has significance as well (i.e. If he’s willing to spend X amount on me, I must be worth a lot to him).
Another obvious one. Hugs, kisses, hand holding, general touchy feely affection — all of these signals act as physical proof that you can’t keep your hands off your partner and crave tactile contact. One thing to keep in mind regardless of your love language, physically touching your S.O. can help release oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and strengthen your relationship.
Acts of Service (Devotion)
This refers to thoughtful gestures and actions such as cooking dinner, doing chores, or running errands when you know your S.O. is busy/tired/stressed. Demonstrating love through generous and selfless actions is the key takeaway to this love language.
A few things worth mentioning…
First of all, we each tend to have one primary love language and then another one that’s a close second. Additionally, a healthy relationship will include a significant amount of all of the above (because who doesn’t like cuddles and presents from time to time??). The idea here is that there is one main way each of us tends to express love and if it doesn’t align with the main way your partner likes to receive, there can be conflict.
Okay. So. When it comes to dating successfully, I think there’s a lot that can be taken away from this.
It’s good to remember that we aren’t all the same. The amount of communication, or words of affirmation, one person needs may be vastly greater than another. Think about your texting habits. If you start dating someone who’s satisfied with one or two half-assed texts per day and you’re the type of person who wants to engage in sexy banter all afternoon, there may be a discrepancy there that leads to arguing — even if everything else feels perfect.
Or consider gift giving. For some people, offering up presents as a token of affection can feel sweet, thoughtful, and meaningful… but to the gift recipient, if that’s not their love language, the gesture might feel ostentatious or forced. They might appreciate it but then feel like they owe you in some way and it spirals into awkwardness or discord.
So what exactly does this tell us?
Basically, things will be a lot easier if you find someone who shares your love language BUT even if your love languages don’t align, you’re not doomed. Keep the romance alive by doing your best to selflessly express love the way they prefer. As long as you understand the differences and discuss your needs with your partner, you should be able to figure out ways to continually please each other.
Think about what YOU need and try discussing the love languages with your S.O. tonight. Maybe it’ll take your relationship to a whole new level. Now that’s hot.