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The Five Love Languages: How they play a role in relationships

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

If you have done any reading on how you receive and give love then chances are you have stumbled upon the Five Love Languages on Google. You may also have heard about it through word of mouth. Understanding what your love language is could help you communicate how you need to be loved in your relationship.

What are the 5 love languages?

The five love languages are how you give and receive love. These languages are explained by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate, published in 1992. Although the five love languages are an excellent tool in understanding what you need to feel cared for in your partnership it's always wise to speak to a licensed therapist trained in helping people navigate relationships.

Below are the 5 love languages according to Dr. Champan and how to communicate those needs in your relationships.

Words of affirmation

This love language is based on experiencing love and giving love in positive and encouraging words. This love language is expressed in written or spoken words. People that desire words of affirmation typically like to be told that their partner values, appreciates, and cares for them.

At the extreme end of this love language, you might want to be told consistently by your partner that you are appreciated.This is to the point that the partner might feel drained but your need to always hear that they care.

Acts of service

This love language is based on the mentality "don't tell me, show me." This love language is experienced when a partner assists you with tasks. These tasks could be assisting you with making dinner, driving us to an appointment, cleaning, etc. You experience love when someone helps you.

On the extreme end of this love language is that you might expect your partner to help you and if they don't help then--"they must not love me or they don't love me as much as I love them." Or if your love language is acts of service you might be a continuous helper to the point that you are doing more for others than they do for you or until you are exhausted.

Receiving gifts

This love language is based on thoughtful and genuine gifts. It's not really based on expensive gifts but that they thought of you. An example of this could be your partner stopped at the gas station and picked up your favorite candy or they made you something to show their care. This could be baking your partner cookies, or purchasing tickets to their favorite comedy show. This love language focuses on meaningful gifts to show care.

At the extreme end of this love language is if you are a giver you might expect your partner to do the same. The mentality of I got them concert tickets and they bought me something I am clearly not interested in, I put thought into my gift why didn't they?

Quality of time

This love language is experienced as spending meaningful time with your partner. This could be taking a walk together, grabbing dinner, taking a road trip together and receiving undivided attention from your partner. You want to feel that your partner is mentally present and engaged during that time. This love language is referred to often by individuals saying they need time with their person. Quality time is spending time with someone in which you are fully focused on and present with them. It is about engaging in activities or conversations with someone to the point that you are truly present and not letting your mind wander.

Quality of time looks different for everyone. Some people need quality time once a week or every two weeks. Some individuals on the extreme end require a lot more time than their partner might not be able to give. It would be ideal for couples to work on a middle ground and compromise on the quality of time being given to the relationship. In couples therapy therapists can work with couples to create a balance of time spent together. This is done by understanding and respecting both of the partners’ needs and then finding a way to meet them. This way, both partners can benefit from the relationship and feel satisfied with the amount of quality time they spend together.

Physical touch

This love language is expressed by acts of physical affection. You feel loved through back rubs, hand holding, cuddling massages, or through sex. You desire physical closeness with your partner to feel loved and express love.

On the extreme end is some people that identify with physical touch as their love language want to be physically intimate more than the other partner to the point that when their partner does not reciprocate the love they desire they often feel rejected or unwanted by their partner. Again a couples therapist can assist in navigating and communicating this need.

Couples can explore their love language for their relationship by taking the quiz.

Once you discover what your love language is you can process what that means to you and then communicate your love language to your partner. No love language is set in stone but it provides insight into how you experience love and care. When love languages are taken to the extreme with the examples listed above, is when you can see some issues or when you pair up with a partner who is unable to provide care in the way that you feel loved. This is when working with a licensed couples therapist could be helpful.

What is a couples therapist and what is the benefit of couples therapy?

A couples therapist helps couples navigate relationship issues such as communication, lack of intimacy, conflict resolution, parenting differences, and other life stressors. These issues can negatively impact the partnership/marriage. Couples therapy helps couples improve their communication, build emotional and physical intimacy, help with vulnerability, and focus on each couple's unique love language to assist them in compromising and strengthening their relationship.

After taking your love language quiz and recognizing for example your love language is quality of time but your partner always seems to be busy with work to the point that they are answering emails during your dates or not able to take vacations because of work tasks then in couples counseling a medium can be explored so that the need for quality of time isn't being dismissed.

Your love language plays a role in how you receive and give love. You want your partner to understand your love language and grow together. Sometimes communicating your love language to your partner isn't enough. You might need a little more support in having your needs met and this is why seeing a couples therapist could be helpful. No matter what your love language is a therapist accepts you as you are.

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