Psych Corner: What’s Your Love Language?

Open HeartHow do you know someone loves you? If you stop and really think about it, the people you love in your life probably show their love for you in different ways. Maybe your mom likes to take you out for coffee while your dad makes sure your car is up-to-date on its oil changes. Maybe your significant other is always quick to give you a genuine compliment. The different ways we show someone that we care about them are what relationship expert, Gary Chapman, Ph.D., calls your “love language.”

Knowing which of the 5 Love Languages the important people in your life “speak” will give you new insights into your relationship with them. And, knowing your love language can help to strengthen your current relationships. For example, if you prefer to receive words of affirmation but your significant other prefers to receive quality time, discuss how you can incorporate these two languages into the way you express your love for one another. This way, you’ll be speaking each other’s language!

Gary Chapman, Ph.D. has identified five love languages that we use to express our love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Read on for a brief explanation of each love language and this about which love language means the most to you.

  1. Words of Affirmation

If your heart warms when someone you love compliments you or lets you know how much they appreciate you, your love language is likely Words of Affirmation. It is important to you to hear from those you love that they care about you. In your case, words often speak louder than actions. If this is your love language, be sure to coach your partner so that they know how to show their love for you through words of affirmation. Do you prefer compliments about the work you put into the relationship, your physical appearance, something else, or a combination? Help your partner demystify this love language and it will benefit both of you.

  1. Quality Time

If your value setting aside time free from other distractions (this means smartphones!) to focus exclusively on enjoying time alone with your partner, Quality Time is most likely your love language. You probably feel like something is missing in your day if you don’t get the opportunity to sit down and check in with your partner to see how they are doing. If this is your love language, be sure to let your partner know that spending quality time together is really important to you and that scheduling time to focus on each other without any distractions is your way of showing you care. That way, your significant other will understand why you are always wanting to schedule long road trips to the beach!

  1. Receiving Gifts

When you receiving a gift, does your heart glow because you know that your significant other must have spent so much time picking out the perfect gift? And you likely truly enjoy the process of scouring the stores and the web for the perfect gift to give to a loved one in your life. Christmas and birthdays are probably favorite times of year for you. If this is your love language, let your partner know that gifts are important to you and why they are important. Once your significant other understands why gifts are a primary way that someone shows you that you are loved, they will know to take extra care when your birthday rolls around and maybe surprise you with a gift or two throughout the year.

  1. girl talkActs of Service

If holding a door, unloading the dishwasher, or making the coffee so you can sleep in an extra hour are signs of true love for you, then Acts of Service is your love language. For you, it’s the thoughtfulness behind these unprompted gestures that you see as an act of love. Like the other love languages, it’s important to let your partner know that being on the receiving end of acts of service help you to feel loved. And look for ways that your significant other is showing you love. Filling up your car with gas may not be as glamorous as buying an expensive necklace but the love behind the gesture can mean more to you than an extravagant gift.

  1. Physical Touch

Many people think of only sex when they hear the fifth love language, Physical Touch, but it actually means much more. Physical Touch as a love language includes those little gestures that let someone you love know that you are thinking about them and this can include holding hands, sitting close to each other at a party, and giving a back rub or foot massage. If Physical Touch is your love language, being physically close to your significant other is your preferred way to show your love. If you consider yourself more “touchy feely” than your significant other, explain to them why holding hands and being close is important to you and hopefully, they’ll be more willing to let your express your love through Physical Touch.

If you want to find out what your primary love language is, you can take a free assessment on Dr. Chapman’s website. Remember that one love language is not better than another one. They are all equally important and your particular love language is part of what makes you unique. And don’t worry if you have more than one love language that is strongest for you. When I took the quiz, I scored highest for Acts of Service and Quality Time was scored just slightly lower. That just means you have more than one way that is a meaningful way for you to show your love. If you’re single, take the quiz to get to know yourself better as well as what’s important to you in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship, make it a date night: take the quiz separately and then go out for dessert or drinks (or both!) to discuss the results

This article is not intended to be a substitute for or serve as professional counseling or treatment. 

Julia

Julia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who is passionate about building and strengthening positive relationships by applying the latest research to everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter at Julia_M_Hogan. (Her articles are not intended to be a substitute for or serve as professional counseling or treatment.)
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