What are they, and how useful are they in a relationship?
If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you may have encountered a problem where you felt like you were misunderstanding your partner’s wants and needs - this is natural; we’re all different, and we all have preferences for how we’d like to show and receive affection. This is where the 5 love languages comes in. Originated by Dr. Gary Chapman, these love languages refer to simple ways that we want to receive love from our partner, and how we show our love to them in return. While they’re not steadfast rules to 100% live by in a relationship, it’s a good way to figure out the differences between you and a partner, and to make sure you both know how the other expresses their affection. So, what are the 5 love languages?
Acts of service
This love language is for people who believe actions speak louder than words. Acts of service refers to when you, or a partner, goes out of their way to show affection for you by making your life easier. Washing the dishes, making you a hot drink when you’re having a busy day, bringing you soup when you’re sick; these are all nice things a person can do for their partner, showing that they love them without needing to speak.
For these people, the act of gift-giving or receiving is the best way to show your love. It’s the act of putting thought and consideration into picking a small treasure you know they’ll like, and receiving the reward of their emotional reaction to the present. For the receiver, it’s the knowledge that their partner loves them through this gift; it’s not about the monetary value, but the symbolic show of affection through the present.
This love language is simple; these individuals feel love most clearly when their partner takes the time to hang out with them, or vice versa. It’s especially felt when their partner gives them all their attention and devotion, actively participating in the conversation and listening to what they have to say; in that moment, it’s just you and your partner, spending time with just the other.
Words of affirmation
In this case, words do speak louder than actions: people with this love language appreciate verbal expressions of affection, or feel most comfortable with verbally expressing their love. Frequent compliments, encouragement, appreciation and “I love you”s help this person to feel loved the most, and help them to feel understood and appreciated. Even digital communication, such as frequent texts, can make their day.
For a person with physical touch as their primary love language, they feel most loved when they are receiving a physical sign of affection, whether that’s through sex, holding hands, hugging, or small touches throughout the day. Physical intimacy is a clear way to know that your partner wants to spend time with you, and it can feel warm and comforting to hold - or be held by - someone with affection for you.
Are they useful?
As mentioned, the 5 love languages shouldn’t be the sole way to dictate your relationship. Instead, they’re there as an avenue for you and your partner to discuss the different ways you like to show and receive love in a romantic relationship, and therefore be able to understand each other’s needs in a useful way. It’s important to know and understand how someone you’re in a relationship with shows love, as well as how they appreciate receiving love the most, so the relationship can be as healthy and affectionate as possible.