By Liza Ibrahim, LPC
Communication is a huge component of any relationship and there are so many ways in which we express ourselves, including emotionally, physically and so many others. The concept of “love languages,” as described by Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages,” focuses on how we all have a personalized way of communicating. These communication styles are categorized into five forms of expression: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Knowing your own love language, as well as your partner’s, will help to improve the ways you express and communicate care and love. Let’s get a better understanding of those communication styles (the love languages):
- Words of Affirmation: Words of affirmation are the words that build you up or boost your confidence. Think of simple phrases or compliments that give you confidence in yourself, your life, and your partnership. When your partner says, “You look gorgeous honey,” that is affirmation. If words of affirmation are your love language, every “I love you” carries more meaning. However, insults or negative words can be experienced as more hurtful for you.
- Acts of Service: If this is your love language, then in your mind, actions speak louder than words. When your partner makes you breakfast, does the laundry, or washes the dishes, those actions mean so much more than them saying, “I love you.”
- Receiving Gifts: There are some individuals who rely on unexpected gifts to feel loved. Receiving a gift on an ordinary day will make them feel seen, loved, and appreciated. These gifts don’t have to be expensive; thoughtfulness of these gifts means much more than the price. This love language isn’t necessarily materialistic – it could be as simple as receiving your favorite snack after a bad day and doing the same for your partner (giving gifts).
- Quality Time: Quality time means getting from your partner their undivided attention. Quality time is not just about doing an activity or having a date night with your partner, it is about undivided attention and spending quality time together. Try turning off the television, putting away electronics, and listening to how their day was.
- Physical Touch: People who gravitate towards this love language feel connected to their partner through every physical touch, from a touch on the arm to holding hands. Intimate, quieter displays of physical affection will be all the more meaningful.
Many people have a primary and secondary love language that supports how they communicate in their relationships. While it is important to understand how you express care and love, it is equally as valuable to identify your partner’s love language. Knowing your own preferences and balancing them with your partner’s helps to better understand them as an individual and to know the best way to connect with them. Mastering each other’s love language will help you both feel adored and appreciated. This will also aid in communicating your needs more clearly and directly to your partner — as much as we think our partner should know us well enough to figure out what we want, that is not always the case. These love languages also carry over into other important interpersonal relationships, like with our children, parents, siblings, and close friends. So, what is your love language?