The 5 Love Languages & How to Express Them

Published 06/08/2021

Author Dr. Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages first published in 1992. His book introduced the idea that we all have our own love languages, or ways that we experience feeling love and connection. We do not all speak the same love languages. People are inclined to show love in relationship using their own love language. They may not consider that this is not how their partner experiences connection. When their partner does not receive love in the same way, these gestures, that are intended to facilitate closeness and intimacy in the relationship will fall flat. This can leave both of them feeling rejected or disappointed. The key to success in not only to learn your partner’s love language but to also communicate your own love language. Couples Therapy can help you and your significant other learn to speak each other’s love languages.

The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

How to identify a person’s primary love language

The most simple answer would be to ask them how they feel loved! Observe what your significant other responds to with appreciation and which bids for connection don’t land. Learn your partner’s love languages and you will have the instruction manual on how to feel and maintain connection. If your partner prefers acts of service honor that as their love language even if you would prefer to buy them gifts because what feels like love to you.

Each love language meaning (and how to express them)

According to Dr. Chapman there are five love languages . An argument can be made that all five languages are ways that we may experience connection with our partners, Chapman points out that each of us has a primary language that feels more meaningful and creates more positive connection with out partners.

Words of Affirmation

Compliments go a long way with a partner whose primary love language is words of affirmation. When you catch your partner doing something you appreciate be sure to say it out loud.

Examples in Relationships:

  • Compliments are key. Notice the things that they are doing well and speak it.
  • Speak out loud words of appreciation for who they are and what they have accomplished. When your partner gets a promotion tell them how proud you are of their accomplishment verbally.
  • Show your partner gratitude for the positive contribution they make to your life. Acknowledge and thank them for being a great parent or person, an amazing cook, or planning a great vacation.
  • Don’t assume they already understand how you feel. Tell them why you love them. They will never tire of hearing how much you love and appreciate them or about the positive traits that you observe in them.

Physical Touch

People whose primary love language is physical touch feel more connection when their partner physically shows affection. This is not limited to sexual activity. Physical gestures such has holding hands or being in close physical proximity of their partner allows them to feel a deeper connection.

Examples in Relationships:

  • Greeting each other with a physical gesture such as a hug or kiss.
  • Hold your partner’s when you are walking in public or sitting on the couch watching television.
  • Massage-A shoulder or foot rub
  • Show that you desire physical proximity to your partner-cuddling, snuggling, spooning


Quality Time

An individual whose primary love language is quality time feels loved when they are spending time together in a way that feels meaningful to them. They feel love when you are present and give them your undivided attention. Turn the phone off. What qualifies as quality time can vary depending on the individual. Typically people whose love language is quality time need to feel engaged with their partners while they are spending time together and feel that you are truly there with them.

Examples in Relationships:

  • Working collaboratively on a project together.
  • Binge watching a series together that interests both of you.
  • Sharing experiences together such as traveling, a dinner date at a new restaurant, or exploring nature.
  • Spending time in meaningful conversation and sharing stories with family

Acts of Service

People with this love language receive love when someone goes out of their way to be helpful. Gestures both big and small will be really appreciated by someone whose primary love language is acts of service. These acts are most likely tasks that they could easily complete on their own. However, having someone else make the effort to help out without being asked says to them that they are loved.

Examples in Relationships:

  • Driving or picking them up from the airport or appointments because it is less stressful than calling a car.
  • Make your significant other coffee or lunch before they leave for work.
  • Getting the kids ready for bed or school because they are trying to finish an important project.
  • Running Errands or doing household tasks that are normally assigned to your other half.
  • Do the dishes even when its not your turn


Receiving Gifts

A person whos primary love language is receiving gifts feels loved when their partner expresses love with tokens of their affection. These gifts don’t necessarily have to be expensive or excessive. Someone whose love language is receiving gifts appreciates gestures that show them people are thinking of them or can identify things that will make them happy. A gift is not about acquiring materialistic things as much as it is about feeling seen and acknowledged through thoughtful token of your affection.

Examples in Relationships:

  • Buy them their favorite treat or snack when you are out.
  • Bring them a souvenir or gift when you are traveling. Little things shows them that you are thinking of them while you are away.
  • Acknowledge special events like holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries with something special to remember the occasion like flowers or a nice bottle of wine.
  • Notice the things that they want or need and surprise them just because.

How your relationship will benefit from understanding each other’s love languages

The five love languages give us a framework to learn how different people experience and demonstrate love. The more you know about your partner’s love languages and what makes them feel loved the more opportunity for deep and meaningful emotional connection. Just because we show and receive love differently than our partners doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to know them intimately and create emotional connections that could last a lifetime. Couple’s counseling gives you a structured and safe space to explore how to create a deeper connection with your partner.

Laura Richer, Seattle Therapist

Laura Richer, Seattle Therapist

Laura Richer is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and coach. Located in the Queen Ann neighborhood of Seattle, she is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been practicing in the state of Washington since 2011.

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