Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Five Love Languages

photo by Kjunstorm on Flickr

Everyone feels love in different ways, but there are five main methods through which it is usually expressed. Using them effectively will build healthy relationships.

Discovering a mate's love language is the key to filling his or her emotional tank. Oftentimes people show love according to how they would like to be loved, though it may not be the love language of the other person. Also, if a person can understand his or her own preferred avenue for receiving love, it will help to specifically ask for things that demonstrate it.

The Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

Praise, admiration and recognition for achievements are extremely important to someone who feels loved through words of affirmation. Sincere compliments on a regular basis accomplish much, but on the flip side, hearing criticism and fault-finding can feel devastating. Kind, affirming words of praise build confidence, trust and respect.

Quality Time

Just being together means everything to someone whose primary love language is quality time. Conversations, walks and shared meals are things couples can do together if one of them needs to feel loved this way. The modifier "quality" means that the time doesn't consist of time spent together without communion, or when distractions like the television preclude real conversation.
Physical Touch

Men often think physical touch is their primary love language because they confuse it with their need for sex. However, the two are not the same. A preference for receiving love through physical touch involves hugging, holding hands, kissing, caressing and patting that doesn't necessarily lead to sexual intercourse.

Gifts to Express Love

People who feel loved when they receive a present indicate their primary love language is through the receiving of gifts. It is the number of gifts, not the size or cost, that count. For those who love them, a tight budget shouldn't be an obstacle. One husband said of his wife, "It is so much fun to watch her open a present." He understood what made her feel loved, and obliged her with gifts.

Acts of Service

Preparing a meal, running errands, doing the laundry, cleaning a car, mowing the grass, fixing a leaky faucet, painting a room, vacuuming the floor and cleaning the bathroom or kitchen all are acts of service for the benefit of a loved one. Giving a massage or foot rub is another service-minded behavior, though it also fits under physical touch. When someone says, "If you loved me, you would help me," they are giving clues that their primary love language is through acts of service.

Although people at different times need all the methods of love demonstrated, they usually have one strong preference for one of the five love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts and acts of service. When the primary love language of a person's mate is misunderstood or ignored, an empty emotional tank will occur. If the problem is not communicated and left unchecked, over time resentment can easily take root. Simple acts of love, one by one, can prevent this and even rebuild and restore a neglected relationship to a healthy state.


Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages. Chicago, Illinois: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

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