People have been trying to answer the question ‘what is love?’, and define how it is expressed, for centuries. One of the ways in which people explain how they show their love is by describing their love language - a term that has been used by experts for three decades after being created in 1992 by author and church leader Gary Chapman. The phrase has been given a boost in recent years thanks to social media. In fact, the hashtag #lovelanguage currently has 2.5 billion views on TikTok and over 530,000 posts on Instagram.
But, if you haven’t heard of love languages then the phrase may be rather confusing to you. There are five love languages in total and it’s important to understand them as everyone reportedly does have one. Plus, by being able to identify not only yours but also your partner’s, experts say you can have a better and more fulfilling relationship in which both of your needs are being met.
So, NationalWorld has spoken to relationship specialists to define what the different love languages are, and also explain what impact they can have on your relationship.
Katie McNamara, who is the host and creator of a dating podcast, Single Sounds, said: “If you haven’t heard about the five love languages yet, learning about your own and others’ can be a real game changer to your dating experiences and all relationships - not just your romantic ones - as you will often find that people have very different views and ways of communicating love in comparison to your own.”
What are the five different love languages?
The five different love languages, as defined by Chapman, are:
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
How are the five different love languages expressed?
Love languages are the ways in which a person expresses and receives love. Below you will find examples of how each of them are demonstrated by individuals.
Acts of Service
Serena Novelli, certified intimacy, love and relationship expert, explained that this is your love language if you believe that actions speak louder than words. This could be showcased in numerous ways, which can be both big and small. Examples include:
- Cooking a meal
- Washing the dishes
- Helping with chores
- Giving your time freely
The co-founder of Select Personal Introductions dating agency, Alex Mellor-Brook, said: “Whether carrying out mundane chores like cleaning the house, putting the bins out or making tea, or doing something like planning an exciting getaway for your partner, these little acts - when carried out unprompted - help bring about positive responses.”
Novelli said this is your love language if you enjoy showing your loved one how much you care about them using thoughtful gifts, or enjoy giving visual representations of love. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on presents as you could also prefer to make something just for them.
Mellor-Brook, who is also an internationally certified matchmaker and relationship coach, said: “This may seem superficial, but no matter how big or small, for someone whose love language is centred on gift, it can be extremely significant. From sending flowers or buying their favourite sweets to spending a large amount of money on a present, it’s the thought behind it that counts and that’s why it means so much to the person on the receiving end.”
Novelli said this is your love language if you enjoy physical touch with your partner. It could be any one of the following, or it could be more than one.
- Hug hello and goodbye
- Enjoy giving or receiving a massage
- High five or fist bump
- Sit close
- Kiss on the lips, cheek or forehead
- Hold hands
- Enjoy deep Intimacy
- Give gentle touches just because
Mellor-Brook said: “Hand holding, hugging, a pat on the back, a slight touch or caress to physical intimacy are all invaluable expressions of love for someone who seeks physical touch as their love language.”
Novelli said this is your love language if you do the following things in your relationship:
- Give your undivided attention
- Maintain eye contact
- Listen intently
- Engage in conversations rather than interrupt
Mellor-Brook said: “This is about giving and getting a partner’s undivided attention, with no distractions from children or electronic devices. It’s a moment when you can enjoy each other’s company while sharing meaningful conversations or doing something fun together.”
Words of Affirmation
Novelli said this is your love language style if you like to express your feelings using written or spoken words. You are likely to do these things:
- Give and receive compliments,
- Offer encouragement, acknowledge a job well done and speak kind words
- Say that efforts of your partner are valued and offer emotional support
- Tell your partner reasons why they are loved, appreciated, desired, and cherished
Mellor-Brook said: “Words of affirmation are a way of expressing how you feel about someone and an opportunity to acknowledge their achievements, whether it’s verbal, writing a love note, texting, or engaging on social media - words of praise and encouragement go a long way.”
How can love languages impact your relationships?
Everyone supposedly has their own love language, as previously mentioned, and you may even find that you showcase traits from different love languages. It may be that you have the same love language, or love languages, as your partner, in which case you will be able to both communicate with each other effectively because you both experience love in the same way.
If you and your partner do not share the same love language, however, you may find that it could cause a few issues and misunderstandings throughout your relationship. Either one or both of you may not feel like your needs are being met as a result of this difference. This is why it is important to talk to your partner about your love language and communicate with them exactly what you need to feel loved.
McNamara said: “Often it is easier to understand and express the love language you affiliate yourself with. But, it’s important to acknowledge the love language of your partner because if this is not treated with respect it could be easy to upset them unknowingly because you don’t see something as a problem but they do.”
Mellor-Brook added: “Acknowledging your partner’s love language will also help you interpret how they are interacting with you, allowing you to express your feelings and appreciation in a way that they understand too.”
What should I do if my love language is different from my partner’s?
If your love language is different from your partner’s then the first thing is not to worry as this is very common. If you both make an effort to do things to reflect each other’s love language, however, then misunderstandings or arguments that could be created because of these differences can be avoided - ultimately leading to a healthier partnership.
Life and Business Coach Mark Wilkinson said: “My love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch but my wife’s are the opposite - hers are quality time and acts of service. As we understand this about each other, however, Emma and I are able to speak to each other in the love language we need. Emma knows what my love language is so she can then cater to that when she wants to connect with me, and vice versa. She requires acts of service so she gets a cup of tea every morning, for example, amongst other things I do for her. We support each other and that has kept us a great team for 10 years now.”