Language is more than words. Gestures, context and other nonverbal communications play a major role in the transmission of meaning. This is especially true in the delicate art of communicating love and affection! So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let’s check out the Five Love Languages (and for once, one of them isn’t French!).
What Do We Mean By The ‘5 Love Languages’?
You might be wondering: So what are the love languages? When we talk about love languages, and especially the “Five Love Languages,” we are referring to a concept in couples therapy pioneered by the American relationship counselor Gary Chapman. Every love language is its own special conduit by which humans express their love and (on the receiving end) feel loved themselves.
So how are these “languages” related to spoken languages? Interestingly, Chapman compared these personal love languages — that is, the way each person expresses affection — with actual languages: When two speakers of different languages meet, it’s impossible to communicate smoothly! Ideally, both partners should learn the other’s love languages in order to effectively communicate. (According to Chapman, everyone has both a primary and a secondary love language, so in this scenario you’re already bilingual, love-language speaking.)
Lastly, the Five Love Languages aren’t limited to romantic partnerships. Family relationships, friendships and even work relationships can profit from them because knowing about them helps everybody feel valued.
What Are The Love Languages?
1. Words of Affirmation
People whose primary love language is words of affirmation value praise, sincere compliments, honest vocal appreciation and declarations of love. If this is you, you’ll feel the most loved if someone comes out and states their feelings explicitly. A tip from Babbel: When the object of your affection speaks a different mother tongue, you should learn it because our own language is usually the one with which we’re the most emotionally connected!
2. Quality Time
Speakers of this love language value exclusive, present and attentive togetherness: Intense conversations, a meal together, or a weekend getaway shows this kind of person that they are loved. Word to the wise, Netflix bingeing doesn’t typically count, nor do vacations spent with the in-laws.
3. Receiving Gifts
Don’t confuse the love language of gifts with greed or shallowness! People who express their affection this way are not interested in the material value of gifts so much as they are with the thoughts behind them: the creativity, the surprise, and the intuition about the unspoken wishes and desires of the recipient. A small, thoughtful gift is likely more meaningful to these individuals than a showy, expensive present.
4. Acts of Service
Taking out the trash, cooking dinner and doing the washing-up afterward — that’s not a to-do list, but rather a way that some people express their love. For people whose love language is acts of service, actions speak louder than words. They conflate these acts of service with creating a warm, loving environment.
5. Physical Touch
For people with this love language, physical closeness is important. This isn’t just about sex: Hugs, snuggles, kisses, holding hands and many other forms of touch are considered declarations — and proof — of love.
Is There Any Scientific Proof Behind This?
There’s no scientific evidence to prove the existence of Chapman’s Five Love Languages, but there also haven’t been any studies on them, period. In lieu of this, we can look at anecdotal evidence: You’ve almost certainly felt unloved before, even by people that obviously love you. And you’ve probably also tried to express your affections for someone, only to have your gestures fall flat. Realizing that there are different ways of expressing love makes interpersonal communication much easier.
Why should one partner tidy the whole house when it’s a lot more important for the other to hear “I love you”? Why should your lover invest so much time and money on gifts, when you’d actually prefer spending a full weekend with your partner’s undivided attention? Or why does everything always go so well for that couple (you know, the “perfect match” in your friend circle)? Is it because they simply know to greet each other with a hug and kiss every night?
Identifying the love languages of your companion is simple: Just observe how the person expresses their affection, or if that doesn’t work, ask them directly. Then express your own affection and recognition in that love language. Of course, this can mean that you will have to do things that aren’t intuitive to you, but that’s the kicker — when it comes to love, it’s not always all about you!