Relationship counselor, Gary Chapman authored one of the most popular books on love and relationships, called the love languages. In the book, he describes 5 love languages based on his years of research and over 35 years of marriage counseling experience.
Words of Affirmation
This type of love language involves the use of words to show someone that you love them.
A person whose love language is words of affirmation feels most loved when they receive compliments, or hear endearing words from their partner - words that express your support, understanding, appreciation, and care for them.
People who have words of affirmation as their love language are sensitive to words. Positive, uplifting, endearing words make them feel loved and valued. But, they are equally sensitive to negative words - negative and hurtful words impact them just as strongly, and can be difficult for the person to process or forgive easily.
Something to keep in mind here is people who like words of affirmations aren't just craving for compliments. In fact, words of affirmation is one of my own top love language, and it's never about compliments for me - but it's the words that express thoughtfulness, words that express an effort to understand the person, and words that communicate that your support them in their dreams and goals.
People whose love language is quality time prefers to spend quality time with their partner - where you have each other's undivided attention, and this intentional carving out of time, this undivided attention makes them feel appreciated and prioritized in their partner's life.
It's easy to let this one slide as life gets busy. More busy life gets and the longer you have been with your partner, it's easy to just assume that being around one another is enough - but carving out special time, when you take a break from the rest of the world, and prioritize one another over all else is super important for someone who has quality time as their primary love language.
Also, just like with words of affirmation, people who prefer quality time are sensitive to flakiness, cancelled or rescheduled plans, or being distracted as all these behaviors communicate to them that they are not a priority in your life.
When I think of this love language, puppies always come to my mind. My own puppy stops cuddling and walks away the moment I pick-up my phone, because he knows that my attention won't be on him. We, as people, are not very different - people with this love language, would rather have smaller duration of times with undivided attention than long periods of time where you are distracted by other things.
Receiving or giving gifts
A person with this love language wants to receive gifts to feel loved. Now this doesn't mean that they want expensive gifts, and it absolutely does not mean that they are materialistic.
Instead they appreciate thoughtful gifts that communicate to them that you know them, and you put in the effort to find something that they wanted, and you got it for them. It communicates love and being appreciated to them.
For example, one of my close friends, who is a big wine connoisseur, his top love language is receiving gifts. And for the longest time, I didn't really understand why he used to bring such thoughtful gifts our friend circle would get together. It was until he shared that as a kid, he would be rewarded with cash or gifts whenever he would do something well or get good grades in school, that I understood the value of receiving and giving gifts for him.
Me on the other hand, gift giving is at the very bottom of the 5 love language for me. I literally scored 0 on receiving gifts when I took the love language quiz, because it just doesn't speak to me the same way. So now whenever we guys get together, I always take a nice bottle of wine for my friend as a way of me saying that our friendship is important to me, and we also have a rule in our group to put our phones away when we are all hanging out to prioritize the quality time in our group.
This love language involves everyday affectionate touches like kissing, hugs, and hand holdings. People with this love language prefer touch over affectionate words or gift giving to feel valued and appreciated.
Now the tricky part with this love language is that so many people simply equate physical touch with sex, especially because sex is inherently such a big part of romantic relationships.
And when you look at magazines, there are articles in every cover - how to spice up your sex life, 5 things you want in bed, and so on... and you see these messages over and over again from magazines to movies and social media, it engrains this idea that sex is the most important part of a relationship
Sex is important - it is an important aspect of a romantic relationship, but it is not the MOST important part. Sex is essentially just an extension of the emotional part, the deeper stuff - things that make or break relationships. And that's where you need to focus when trying to nurture your relationships.
So when it comes to physical touch as a love language, remember that the the physical touch doesn't just mean sex.
For anyone who has physical touch as their love language, physical touch can come in endless number of ways. It can come in the form of a hug, a gentle peck on the cheek, or holding hands - all these subtle ways of touch communicates love to someone whose has physical touch as their love language.
And also keep in mind that while we are talking about love languages primarily in the context of romantic relationships, these preferences affect all of your relationships - even the non-romantic ones... hit like if you know someone who just likes to greet people with a hug.
Feeling wanted and appreciated is not exclusive to your romantic relationships. It's something we all crave across the board - in all our relationships.
Acts of Service
This love language can be best described by the phrase - actions speak louder than words. A person with this love language appreciate thoughtful gestures, and acts or actions in day-to-day life that help them feel supported.
If your partner's preferred love language is acts of service, then lending them a helping hand, not being lazy around them, and helping them with chores is the best way for you to express your love and appreciation for them.
They value the hard work that you do for them that shows your intentions and emotions, and that you were thinking about them. I personally find the acts of service to be the most difficult love language out of the 5.
I don't know if there's an objective study out there, but I think acts of service requires the most amount of time and effort - which is actually exactly the point. When someone's love language is acts of service, your thoughtful acts and gestures communicate that you like them and care about them enough, to do something - to take actions to make their life easier, and to show them how much they mean to you through actions rather than words or gifts.
For example, one of my previous partner's top love language is acts of service, and it would make her so happy with the smallest things like doing vacuum or cooking dinner - and I was always baffled by that, because it's not my primary love language. But that's how she liked to receive love, and that's what I learned over time that I needed to do to communicate that my care and appreciation for her.
Which brings to a very important aspect of understanding these love languages - that in order to get the max benefit from these love languages, you and your partner need to speak each other's love language.
Understanding your love language and that of your partner. See how your love languages are similar or different than one another. Use that to your advantage - use that knowledge to understand how you partner best receives love, what things make them feel most appreciated. Those things might be different than your own love languages.
Communicate your love to your partner
One thing you can start doing today is to get to know your and your partner's love languages, and then communicate them to one another. Share with each other what your love language, and how they make you feel special, loved, and cared for.
Now that you know about your love languages, it is also important to know that your love language is not an isolated concept on its own. Your love language is just another way in which your relationship attachment styles impact your life.