The Five Love Languages
Chapman concluded that there are five emotional love languages, each one having various “dialects”:
1) Words of affirmation: This can take the form of a verbal compliment – e.g. a positive statement about your appearance, or praise for doing something well. It could also be an appreciation for something your partner has done. Also:-- Words of encouragement-- Words with a gentle tone, such as an expression of apology or forgiveness-- Using a humble tone: Expressing desires in the form of a request, rather than a demand
2) Quality time:-- Spending time with your partner that is focused – i.e., free of distractions-- Quality conversation – this involves eye contact, listening to the other, sharing your own perspective and feelings-- Quality activities: This can be defined as an activity where one person wants to do it, the other person is willing to do it, and there is a mutual understanding that the purpose is to strengthen the relationship by doing something together. The willingness to do something together that your partner likes, even if it’s not your favorite, sends a strong positive message. Plus, quality activities create the opportunity for making memories!
3) Receiving gifts-- Receiving a gift represents being thought of, or remembered; a well-chosen gift also may provide for the receiver a sense of being known. -- Another type of gift is that of presence – i.e., being there for the other person in a time of need or vulnerability.
4) Acts of service-- Often involves things done for the other person or for the family; common examples include household tasks or chores: cooking, cleaning, parenting activities; also “filling in” for the other person when they are stressed or tired.
5) Physical touch-- Examples include holding hands, cuddling, embracing, sex. Implicit touch is of a more brief or casual nature, e.g. touching your partner’s arm or shoulder as you work around each other in the kitchen. Explicit touch is more intentional and focused, including massages, backrubs, and sexual touching. -- An important aspect of touching in relationships is to prioritize your partner’s desires in how they like to be touched.
Although we may enjoy the benefits of all the above categories, we likely will have a primary love language, one that we value above all the others. One mistake we can make is to assume that the other person values the same kind of caring behaviors that we do. Another complication is that these love languages have various “dialects,” meaning that the preferred type of quality time, acts of service, gifts, etc. will vary from one person to the next. So, even if you know your partner is an “acts of service” fan, you may be doing a lot of house cleaning, not knowing that your partner would really prefer that you give them a break from the kids for an evening.
We may or may not know what we most need, or what our partners need, to feel loved, cared for, valued. So communicating about this issue about is clearly important. Another great resource is the love languages quiz on Dr. Chapman’s website: 5lovelanguages.com.
Chapman, G. (2015). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago: Northfield Publishing.
-Mark Vogel, Psy.D.