By Health Plus

Language is encoded in our DNA – it is what makes us human. We have the unique ability to use a structured system of communicating that involves being able to speak, write and read complex and abstract ideas.

So if we are such expert communicators, why do we have so much trouble understanding each other? How are words of affection, guidance or encouragement so often misconstrued, or taken the wrong way when offered to a loved one?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the reason for these misunderstandings is that we have not learned to communicate in the way that those closest to us can best understand. It is literally as if we are speaking a different language to each other.  

The premise of Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, is that each person has a primary love language that they respond to and makes them feel loved. Knowing which ‘Love Language’ your partner speaks will help them accept and experience the love you are giving and ultimately lead to a more meaningful relationship. The Five Love Languages are:

  • Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
Learning another person’s love language is not about getting others to say or do things differently, or having them say or do things the way you want them to. However, it does require curiosity, an observant mind, and a willingness to adjust your communication style - not just what you say but how you receive others’ words. It may take time, patience and a little trial and error to build your love language vocabulary but it’s worth the effort. When we communicate to loved ones in the ways they can best receive it, and when we have the capacity and courage to make requests, relationships deepen and grow with a greater sense of ease, understanding, and satisfaction. Here is a brief overview of the 5 languages.


People with Affirmation as their love language respond to words of affection, praise, and appreciation. Words of encouragement, or a thoughtful observation about something they have done well matters deeply to these folks. An enthusiastic complement on a home cooked meal or new hairstyle are ways of saying “I see you and appreciate you”.

quality Time

Those whose love language is Quality Time feel the most adored when you give them your undivided attention. This has become harder these days due to our almost Pavlovian response to anything with a screen. Dings, pings, alarms and alerts constantly distract us from the task at hand, including giving our loved ones our full attention. To feel valued, the Quality Time person needs you to turn away from the screen, make eye contact, and be fully engaged with the present activity or conversation.

phsyical touch

People with physical touch as their love language feel loved when they receive affection outside of sex. They react to the warmth and comfort touch brings them. Holding hands while walking, sitting closely together while watching TV, or giving a quick shoulder massage after a tough day are all examples of this non-verbal language. Becoming fluent in this love language can lead to greater intimacy and connection in a relationship.

acts of service

The Acts of Service love language is about doing small, yet meaningful things for the other. This language is less about words and more about gestures of support like bringing home a favorite dessert, washing the car and filling the gas tank, or taking charge of the children’s bedtime rituals (even when it is not your turn). In a day filled with work, children and chores, actions of this language can definitely speak louder than words.  

receiving gifts

People who respond to the Receiving Gifts love language do not require big or expensive gifts; it is the thought and energy behind the gift that counts most. A book by a favorite author, framing a photo from a special vacation, or sending a funny card for no particular reason are all gifts that are personal and meaningful. These gifts act as a symbol or token of your love and affection.

Discovering another’s love language can take a certain amount of empathy, selflessness and attention. But in the long run, learning a new love language can lead to your own personal growth and the strengthening of relationships with those who mean the most in your life. Perhaps most importantly love languages are universal to all relationships - not just the romantic ones.

Want to learn more? Pick up The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman, or take the free quiz!

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

The Secret to Love That Lasts

In the #1 New York Times international bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. 

Free Quiz

Learn your love language

Take the profile that suits you! Click the image to the left to take your free quiz.

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