I can’t help rolling my eyes at a lot of self-help theories. Thinking about reciting positive affirmations in the mirror, or creating a vision board in order to turn my dreams into a reality are enough to make me physically ill. So, when I was at a marketing conference earlier this year and learned about the Five Love Languages, I was surprised that I didn’t immediately want to hurl into my swag bag.
I like the Five Love Languages theory because it highlights two very important factors in any relationship: communication and empathy. Communication is so crucial to the health of any relationship, but it’s also the source of most relationship problems. Everyone has their own communication style, and differences in communication can lead to strain and misinformation in a relationship. Empathy is also crucial in relationships, as it is always important to consider your partner’s perspective. Your partner’s experiences are different from yours, and they may react to situations and problem solve much differently than you would. To better communicate with our partners, we must be able to empathize with them and understand where they are coming from.
What is The Five Love Languages Theory?
The Five Love Languages is a theory put forth by relationship counsellor, Dr. Gary Chapman. The theory is simple: Everyone has their own way that they like to give and receive love. If you understand how your partner needs love expressed to them, your relationship will be stronger for it. By paying attention to your partner’s love language, it will cause you to become more empathetic to their needs, and in turn, communicate better with them.
According to Dr. Chapman, The Five Love Languages are: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Dr. Chapman believes each person has one primary and one secondary love language. In my opinion, all of the love languages are important to pay attention to in a relationship to some degree. You should just be mindful in putting precedence on the love language that is most significant to your partner.
Figuring out your own love language can be greatly beneficial to understanding how you operate in a relationship as well. It can give you clarity about the expectations you bring into a relationship. If you and your partner aren’t understanding each other’s love languages, this may lead to misunderstanding and turmoil. By understanding your partner’s love language, and being mindful of it when you communicate and express love to your partner, your relationship will likely be happier for it.
What Are The Five Love Languages?
1. Gift Giving
People who have gift giving as their love language appreciate thoughtfulness and effort behind the gifts they receive. They view gifts as being symbolic for knowing they are loved and cared for. For people who speak this love language, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions are that much more important for them. Missing a special occasion for this person could be detrimental to their feelings.
2. Quality Time
People who have quality time as their love language express affection through undivided attention. These people prefer to share in-depth conversations with their partners and take part in activities that promote bonding between them and their partner. Distractions and cancelled dates could be problematic for people who speak this love language.
3. Words of Affirmation
For people who speak this love language, hearing how their partner feels is immensely important to them. Expressing affection, praise, and frequently hearing words like, “I love you,” are crucial to people who speak this love language.
4. Acts of Service
People who have this love language prefer to demonstrate and receive their affection through actions, rather than things like words or physical touch. People who speak this love language will demonstrate their love by helping out with errands and other favours, and expect the same in return from their partner.
5. Physical Touch
Any kind of physical touch is very important to people who speak this love language. While sexuality may be important, it may not be about that at all. They may want affection shown through things like hand holding, hugs, and affection in public. These people rely on physical touch to feel comforted and be reminded that their partner cares about them.
How Do You Figure Out Your Partner’s Love Language?
1. Observe How Your Partner Gives Love
Dr. Chapman theorizes that most people tend to give love in the way they like to receive love. Therefore, the easiest way to find out what your partner’s love language is, is to observe the ways in which they express love to others.
For example, if your boyfriend is constantly going out of his way to do favours for you such as taking your car in for repairs, or always making sure to wash the dishes after a meal, it might be safe to assume his love language is acts of service. Therefore, he may feel undervalued if you don’t show your appreciation for his acts of service. If this is his love language, remember to always thank him for going the extra mile, and think of acts of service you can do in return for him. Try cooking him dinner, or doing his laundry. These are the types of gestures that might make him feel appreciated.
2. Ask Your Partner
Perhaps your partner’s love language isn’t outwardly obvious. Try pointedly asking what love language resonates most with your partner. Perhaps it’s more than one. Or maybe it’s not the one you thought it would be. An open dialogue with your partner will help you understand better how they feel love.
3. Take the Quiz
Perhaps, like me, you are unsure of your love language. On Dr. Chapman’s site (www. 5lovelanguages.com), you can take a quiz to figure out what your love language is. The quiz consists of thirty paired statements asking which of the two statements is more important to you in a relationship. At the end of the quiz, the site gives you a weighted breakdown of which love language is most pertinent to you. This exercise was very enlightening, and you might be surprised at your results.
How Can You and Your Partner Use Love Languages to Understand Each Other Better?
By keeping your partner’s love language in mind, you can help understand their needs better, and thus strengthen your relationship and better avoid conflict.
For example, if your primary love language is physical touch, you may become frustrated or have moments when you doubt your relationship because your partner isn’t giving you the physical touch you need. However, if your partner knows physical touch is your primary love language, they can be mindful of this when interacting with you. In turn, rather than getting frustrated that your partner isn’t giving you the physical touch you desire, you can remind yourself that it’s because that isn’t their naturally inclined love language, and not because they don’t care about you. You can then remind your partner that you need physical touch to feel safe and loved, and hopefully, they will be empathetic to your needs and try to incorporate more physical touch into your relationship.
Another example is if your partner’s primary love language is quality time, turmoil might come about at times when your other priorities cause you to become too busy to make time to hang out with your significant other. If this is the case, be sure to schedule uninterrupted one-on-one time with your partner on a regular basis, so that they feel loved and appreciated by you.
So, Why the Fuck Did You Learn About This at a Marketing Conference?
Another reason I didn’t cringe when I first learned about the Five Love Languages is because it has realistic applications for not just romantic relationships, but for other relationships as well. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I first learned about the Five Love Languages at a marketing conference. When the theory was presented in this context, the speaker was discussing the merits of using the theory in business relationships.
For example, the Five Love Languages can be used to motivate your employees. If you know your employee is motivated by words of affirmation, you can use that knowledge to continuously motivate them. Be mindful to always tell these people, “Good job!” Or, if you know your employees are motivated by quality time, ensure to schedule workplace social events to promote team building. I would just be careful in the workplace if your employee’s love language is physical touch. Maybe a high five would suffice.
This theory can be used for relationships with your friends and your family members as well. I have a friend whose love language is gift giving. She always gives the most thoughtful gifts and is the type of person who goes overboard when celebrating special events. She also gets very upset when she feels like the people she loves don’t take time to celebrate her special days. Gift giving is my lowest scoring love language, so for years it was hard for me to understand why she took it so personally if I didn’t make a big deal out of special events. Now that I understand her love language, I see the importance of gift giving to her. I now try to go the extra mile when doing things like celebrating her birthday or exchanging Christmas gifts, because I realize this is the way she likes to receive love.
The Five Love Languages can be a powerful tool in helping to understand your loved ones better. Keep in mind that love languages aren’t a magic cure for all relationship issues, but they can certainly help improve and maintain your bond with others. If you are cognizant of what makes the people in your life feel the most loved and valued, you will be able to better empathize with them, and thus communicate better.