Love can be expressed in a plethora of ways. It can also be received in countless ways. With that said, it’s easy for someone’s well thought-out expression of love to be lost in translation if the person receiving it is used to expressing their love in a different way. This could be the reason why we sometimes have difficulty communicating how much we love someone.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages series, there are five different love languages, and everyone can express their love and wish to have love expressed to them in different ways than others. Anne Bogel, in her book, Reading People, also talks about the five love languages and what they mean.
The 5 love languages can be condensed into the following: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Each of these languages are said to be the five ways in which most people give and receive love although they do not always realize it. One might think they use the five languages evenly with their loved ones but often times we find ourselves preferring one love language over the others, whether it be giving or receiving. In order to understand the five love languages, we must dive into what they are and how they can be expressed and received.
Words of Affirmation
Dr. Gary Chapman’s definition of displaying love through words of affirmation is “using words to build up the other person.” Chapman explains in his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, that an easy example of this would be the use of the words “thank you.” In Reading People, Bogel also explains that people whose preferred love language is words of affirmation “want to hear you speak your love through compliments and appreciative words. It’s not enough to show them you love them with your actions; they need to hear it spoken.” To people whose primary love language is words of affirmation, words are extremely important and regularly like to hear the words I love you or thank you.
Acts of Service
Chapman defines acts of service as “doing something for your [significant other] that you know they would like.” He includes examples such as cooking dinner, washing the dishes and cleaning the floors. Bogel states that those with a primary love language of acts of service “want to see your love in action.” Acts of service could really be anything. It is doing something your loved one will appreciate and doing it for them out of love. It is very important, however, to note that these acts should not be done out of obligation, fear or guilt. We should do them simply because we want to.
Although the act of giving and receiving gifts may seem obvious, Dr. Chapman believes that gifts are meant to make the receiver realize that this gift was bought or made with them in mind. He states that one should think, “He was thinking of me. Look what he got for me.” Bogel adds that people with this primary love language “want something they can hold in their hands, a touchable symbol of love.” Physical presence could also be seen as a gift when we are needed by the other person. Sometimes the act of giving a gift represents more than the actual gift itself. It is just a way to show our loved ones that we are there for them and love them.
Quality time is defined by Chapman as “giving your [significant other] your undivided attention.” He mentions that this could be done in whatever way the couple feels most comfortable and together. Some examples include “taking a walk together or sitting on the couch
with the TV off – talking and listening.” Bogel emphasizes that it is quality time that is important as “not all time spent together is quality time.” Quality time can involve sharing thoughts and feels with one another and doing quality activities such as taking long walks, trips and getaways.
Lastly, physical touch can be described by Dr. Gary Chapman as simply “holding hands, hugging, kissing, [and] sexual intercourse,” which are all expressions of love. Bogel believes, as mentioned in Reading People, that people with physical touch as their primary love language “often have a tactile nature and appreciate things with pleasant textiles.” In a relationship, sex is one major component of physical touch, but simple things like brief hugs or kisses when saying hello or goodbye, sitting close to each other while watching a movie or at dinner and hand-holding are equally important.
Love is defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” How we express it is entirely up to us, and it is important to note that we all love in different ways. Understanding the love language of your loved ones is a key factor in a relationship as often times we discover that we do not share the same primary love language as our partner and must compromise and make the most out of it to keep the love growing and healthy.