Relationships are hard. They require give and take. At the end of the day, being in a relationship means making yourself and your partner feel love and happiness. However, love comes in many forms.
This is where love languages come in. A love language, coined by author and relationship counsellor Gary Chapman, is a way in which someone expresses their love and appreciation towards themselves and others.
In his book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Chapman explains that each person has a primary love language, but can express love in many of them. It can depend on our personality types, and we can also learn our love languages from experiences.
“My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counselling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love,” Chapman explains in this book. “The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.”
While Chapman focuses on romantic love, this concept also refers to familial and friendship love.
The five core love languages are:
– Words of affirmation – using words to encourage, appreciate and express love. For example, “You look incredible today”, or “Thank you for cooking dinner tonight, it was great.”
– Gifts – physical gift-giving and tokens of appreciation. Examples include buying someone flowers or leaving love notes for them to read.
– Acts of Service – providing an act of kindness for someone that you know they would appreciate. Examples include making them a cup of coffee or cooking a meal.
– Quality time – spending time with your spouse, even if it’s not doing anything specific. This includes taking them out on dates, or having a heart-to-heart talk.
– Physical touch – hand holding, kissing, hugs and all other forms of physical touch.
Decades after the book was published, Chapman’s words still ring true. Many relationship experts today argue that the building blocks of a healthy relationship lie in understanding your partner’s love language.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK, relationship counsellor Gurpreet Singh said that, “There are two people in the relationship, their expectations are different, their needs are different, their way of communication is different. Everything about them is different. There are similarities of course, but opposites attract quite a lot. When you’re attracted to someone that’s different to you, it is almost necessary you will run into things about the person that grate on you.”
Your partner’s love language signals how they see love and how they would like to receive it. Once you know how you partner wants to be loved, you can start incorporating those actions into your daily life.
To identify your partner’s love language, you should take note of the small things they do. You can also simply ask them what makes them feel loved and cherished.
When you can identify and understand your partner’s love language, you can begin to see the ways they represent their love everyday. Their actions, which might have meant little to you before, now become significant. For example, your partner’s love language may be physical touch and they are therefore incredibly affectionate towards you, something you might have once thought of as a sign of insecurity. When you can identify that their physical affection is their main sign of love, you can begin to appreciate those small moments for what they are. You can also be a bit more physical with your affection to show that you acknowledge how they want to be loved. Of course, your partner should do the same.
Another important thing not to forget is to practice self-love. When you can love yourself and identify the ways in which you show love, you are in a much greater position to love others.