Love Languages 101: Tips for Giving, Receiving and Improving Your Relationship

So what are love languages anyways? Maybe you have heard about them in passing, or seen a trendy article about them recently, but still aren’t totally sure of what they are about. The concept of love languages have been around for a long time, but they are just now becoming a more popular and mainstream understanding of relationships of all types, platonic, familial and romantic. The concept originated in 1992, when Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, started noticing a trend amongst his clients. Dr. Chapman noticed that a lot of his clients were not able to appreciate their partner’s display of love, because it is not what they wanted or expected.

Just think if your partner was big into giving gifts, but you don’t like having little tchotchkes laying around. Your partner would probably have hurt feelings because you don’t appreciate the gifts which communicate love. And you would probably be annoyed about the extra stuff lying around, not realizing it was special for them to give you something. This is a minor example that demonstrates the kind of patterns that emerged from Dr. Chapman’s work.

This mismatch in preferences caused both partners to feel underappreciated and misunderstood, which led to bigger conflicts. After noticing this pattern in a lot of couples (couples that definitely loved each other, but were just miscommunicating their love) he coined the concept of love languages. Since 1992, love languages have grown in both notoriety and popularity. While it’s by no means an exact science, love languages do serve as an easy and relatable way to break down your relationships with other people. Especially because a mismatch in love languages is often at the source of conflict in intimate, romantic relationships.

Find Out What Your Love Languages Are

Don’t know your love language or your partner’s? Take our quiz on the Relish app for FREE during your free trial. In addition to finding out what your love languages are, you’ll immediately start to receive customized exercises, date nights, and activities that will help you feel closer than ever to your partner. Understanding your love languages and the love languages of your partner will offer essential insight into your dynamic. It will also show you how you should show other people love in order to make them feel the most seen. And what kind of things you should appreciate from important people in your life because it means that they are showing you love.

Before you can understand how to use love languages to improve your relationship, you need to understand the different types of love languages. There are five different love languages that describe how a person either prefers to give or receive love 1) words of affirmation, 2) quality time, 3) acts of service, 4) physical touch and 5) receiving/giving gifts. While some of these love languages are rather self explanatory, it’s still helpful to go through and describe each of them.

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Love Language 1: Words Of Affirmation

The first love language, words of affirmation, is the most common of the love languages. This love language favors verbal praise and affirmation. People with this love language love to either hear or say things like “You’ve done a good job”, “I’m proud of you”, or “You look beautiful today” as a way to give or receive love. When in doubt, long conversations, thoughtful compliments, and supportive language can go a long way.

Love Language 2: Quality Time

The second love language is quality time. This is tied as the second most common love language. People with this love language either give or receive love by prioritizing quality time with their friends, partners or family. Quality time doesn’t have to involve an elaborate date, a nice dinner or anything planned, it’s just about spending one-on-one time with the people that you care about. People with this love language will often go out of their way just to spend time with their partner. People with this love language often don’t even care if you are on your phones or doing separate activities, they just like to be in the same place as the people that they love.

Love Language 3: Acts Of Service

The third love language is acts of service, this is tied as the second most popular love language along with quality time. People with this love language either like to give or receive acts of service to communicate love. This can range from cooking a meal for someone, taking over chores after their partner has had a particularly long day, or even giving a back massage to help their partner unwind. People with this love language like to show their partner that they love them, which can often be overlooked when people are listening to know that their partner loves them.

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Love Language 4: Physical Touch

The fourth love language is physical touch. People with this love language prefer to give or receive love through physical touch. In this case, a back massage can also count as an act of love (just like a backrub can count as an act of service). Note here that physical touch doesn’t necessarily mean intimate touch (though it could in the cases of romantic partners), but includes things like hugs, playing with hair, holding hands, massages, etc. etc. People with this love language might be more into PDA than the average person, but often aren’t over the top about it. Their preference for touch often manifests in physical reassurance, a pat on the back after a job well done, or an arm squeeze to show they’re there.

Love Language 5: Gifts

The fifth and final love language is related to giving or receiving gifts. People with this love language like to give or receive gifts to show love, commitment and connection. It’s important to note here, that the gifts do not need to be lavish or costly. The act of giving or receiving a gift is more about showing your partner, friend or family member that you are thinking about them. The gifts can be a small tchotchke, a surprise delivery of food or flowers or a more elaborate gift on special occasions. People with this love language usually prefer thoughtful gifts that demonstrate that you truly know them.

Complimentary & Secondary Love Languages

Even though there are five distinct love languages, there is a lot of crossover between the languages, which can give you and your loved ones a lot of ways to show and receive love in your preferred way. Like we mentioned, a back massage, for example, could constitute an act of service, physical touch, or even a gift. While people normally have a strong preference for one of the five love languages over the other, oftentimes people have more than one type of love language. Some love languages tend to go hand in hand, for example a lot of people that prefer to receive quality time also appreciate acts of service. While some people know what their love language is intuitively, it can be hard for other people to figure out. But, fear not! There are plenty of resources out there for you to help you discover your love language. Between books written on the subject, online articles and even quizzes you will be able to discover your love language(s) in no time.

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How To Demonstrate Them In The Wild

As we hinted at above, people often have different ways they prefer to give and receive love. This means that someone might prefer to give love through words of affirmation, but may prefer to receive gifts to know that they are loved. Or they might prefer to show their love through acts of service, but prefer to receive quality time from a loved one.

Understanding both of your love languages is important so that you can navigate your relationships with more self awareness. If you truly understand your love languages, you can take some of the guesswork out of it for your partner and communicate what you need from them. In addition to knowing your own love languages, it’s important to understand the love languages of the important people in your life, especially your partner. A lot of people assume that everyone loves words of affirmation, because of the cultural importance of saying I love you. But saying I love you does not come naturally to a lot of people, even if they do love you. This basic misunderstanding of love language preferences can lead to a lot of unfortunate miscommunications if you do not understand both you and your partner’s love languages. Just like some people aren’t able to say the words ‘I love you’ with ease, others don’t always like to hear those words because of past trauma or other things. Most people aren’t totally averse to a specific love language even if it isn’t their preference, but some people are (we all know that person that HATES to be hugged), which makes it ever more important to understand people’s preferred loved languages.

Understanding someone’s love language not only helps you understand them better as a person, but it also has the potential to improve your relationship to them. Sometimes it can be difficult to know someone’s love language, especially if it is different from your own, because you don’t understand other love languages as intuitively as your own preference. If you are unsure of someone’s love language, you can always suggest that they take an online quiz. Afterall, it’s beneficial for them to know their love language for personal reasons. But, if they are not interested in taking the quiz, or are unable to answer the quiz honestly, or you decide that you want a challenge, you can always test out different love languages and see what they respond the most to. Try buying a small thoughtful gift, or taking the afternoon off to hang out. Or giving them a really personal and sweet compliment on their way out of the house.

There are only five options so it shouldn’t actually be that hard to figure out their preferences. If you are trying to figure out how they like to show love, just try to be extra in tune with their actions towards you, especially when they are being affectionate. Are they always complimentary? Do they offer to take things off of your plate when you are stressed out? Do they like to spend their free time just hanging out with you? Understanding how a partner, friend or family member shows you love will make you feel more loved in your relationships.

What Love Languages Say About You (And Your Relationship)

Love languages at their core show what you and your partner prioritize and care about. If you are showing love in a way that they don’t recognize as love (such as helping them out when you know they are busy), they might not appreciate the act of service. This can leave you feeling ignored or undervalued. Understanding love languages is about learning that love can be communicated in various ways. Even if your love languages don’t totally align, understanding that acts of service is your love language will lead them to appreciate these acts when you do things for them. This will make your efforts feel more appreciated, and they will know that you are expressing your love even if it is not in their preferred way.

Though it is still important to express love to them in their preferred way for the record. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you to buy small gifts every now and then, making the effort to show a loved one love in their preferred way will mean a lot. It is most likely that you will have some crossover in your love languages with your partner, friends or family which means that you should prioritize this love language. If you both really enjoy spending time together, then it’s important to carve out time in your days/weeks to be together! Plain and simple. It’s interesting to note that because different people have different love languages, a lot of your relationships will require you to show your love in different ways. Love languages are important in every relationship, so exploring your parent’s love languages, your sibling’s love language and your friend’s love languages will give you insight into all of those different relationships.

While you might not think that love languages play a role in your everyday interactions with people, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Love languages dictate how people prioritize their time and how they perceive others. While exploring love languages is becoming more mainstream, a lot of people are still totally in the dark about the concept and would benefit from you introducing it into your relationship. Prioritizing love languages in all of your relationships will not only make your relationships stronger, but it will help you learn how to show love in different ways.

Are Love Languages Fixed?

While most people have a preference for one or two love languages, it is possible for these preferences to change over time. Big life events often cause people to seek love in new ways. For example, after having a baby, a partner might appreciate acts of service more than receiving presents. Taking a chore off of their hands will mean more to them than getting a new cologne (though that’s always nice too). The same could be true after losing a loved one. After losing a job, a friend, family member or partner might appreciate words of affirmation more than other types of love to build them up after a blow to their self esteem.

Understanding that love languages can actually change over time will help you stay more in-tune with your loved ones. It’s always a good idea to ask people what they need from you, especially during tough times. Even if people don’t use the classic love language vocabulary, they will likely indicate their preferences in their answer. Having occasional check-ins over love languages is a great way to ensure that you are supporting your loved ones in the ways that they want.

If after reading all of this you are interested in exploring love languages, but don’t know where to start when it comes to how to apply love languages in your own life, don’t worry. We get it! It can be difficult to understand how to put relationship theory into action in a meaningful way to make your relationships stronger. If you feel overwhelmed, but are committed to learning your love languages and exploring how love languages can improve your romantic relationships, then you and your partner should try Relish. Relish is a relationship coaching app that offers couples personalized quizzes, articles, games, and tailored relationship advice so that they can set and achieve goals related to their relationships. Relish has a team of expert coaches that can help you identify your love languages and use this knowledge to achieve your relationship goals as a team. Relish is a great tool because it is so convenient to use. The app is much cheaper than traditional relationship therapy, and MUCH more convenient.The easy to use app brings relationship help to the palm of your hand and makes taking that first step to get help so much easier.

Even if you and your partner don’t have problems, Relish is a great way to improve your relationship and make it stronger. Even though Relish focuses on romantic relationships, it’s possible to translate what you learn about your love languages with your partner to other relationships in your life.

Learn key insights into your relationship, understand your partner better, and learn more ways to live better together with Relish. Try the #1 relationship coaching app free for one week!

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