by Jaclyn Heng
For those unacquainted with the term, a “love language” is an expression of affection. The idea was founded by marriage counsellor Gary Chapman, who wrote a book – The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. In his book, Chapman categorized the ways people express and accept love and affection into 5 different categories: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
You might be thinking something along the lines of I’m just in college! I don’t even have a boyfriend/girlfriend! How would this even be useful for me?
Though the original book was directly referring to love in a romantic relationship or marriage with a partner, in this article, we’ll be talking about how the love languages are applicable for anyone regardless of romantic relationship status, as well as breaking down the 5 love languages into the giving and receiving perspective. So as long as you love someone, whether it be family, friends or a lover, the love languages are applicable to you!
Welcome to our Love Languages Crash Course!
To discover your love language, take the quiz here.
#1 Words of Affirmation
Someone who expresses verbal love through Words of Affirmation would say things that would make the person they love happy and boost their spirits up. Remarks or texts like “I’m so proud of you”, “You did a great job”, “I hope you are having a great day”, or “Thank you for being here with me” are things that person may say. It’s a way for them to express how highly they think of you and how much they appreciate you.
A person who accepts love best in the form of Words of Affirmation would cherish the feeling of being appreciated or valued. Small comments of love mean the most to them because it comes from the heart. To them, nothing means more than hearing the person they love express their thoughts and feelings directly in a verbal form, leaving them feeling validated and appreciated.
#2 Acts of Service
A person who gives love through Acts of Service will likely be thinking along the lines of wanting to be of help to the person they love. Acts of Service could come in the form of offering to do part of the work, doing things without being asked, and sacrificing time and effort for the sake of lessening their loved one’s burden because they wouldn’t want to watch their loved one unhappy or stressed.
Someone who recognizes love in Acts of Service will likely think of the act as signifying the loved one’s commitment and compassion to help. They’d recognize those actions as showing that their loved one cares and will go out of their way to show it. It could mean the loved one knows them well enough to be able to realize their needs, signifying how close the relationship is.
#3 Receiving Gifts
Giving gifts is a tangible form of showing love as it could be a way of saying “I saw this and thought of you” or “I thought you would like it”. It is a love language to show thoughtfulness and intent to make the other person happy. The gift could be something simple or complicated, handmade or bought, catered to the person’s specific interests. The real gift is usually not the item, but the effort and thought it represents.
A misconception about people who have Receiving Gifts as their highest-scored love language would be that they’re materialistic. But most of the time, it’s not about the object, nor the price tag. It’s about how the other person was thinking of them and wanted to make them happy by being thoughtful. It’s about the effort when the other person sacrificed their time and energy into crafting the gift or purchasing the gift with their own hard-earned money. It’s having the emotional validation that the person they love pays attention to the things they’ve said and to their interests. Heck, it could even be being sent a random cat video because the video made a loved one think of them.
#4 Quality Time
A person who holds Quality Time as their most prominent love language would be someone who holds time at a high value. They’re saying, “My time is valuable, I could do many things with this time. But I love you, and I want to spend that time with you.”. In essence, a person who spends quality time with you is saying that you are more valuable than their valued time. They’d rather spend time with you and they place great importance on connection through conversation.
Especially applicable when the other party is frequently busy with work and studies, receiving Quality Time means a lot because it is an indication that they are of value to the person. There is a validation that comes with realizing that you are a priority to the person who took time out of their busy schedule to spend it with you.
#5 Physical Touch
Touching someone you love (consensual, of course) could be some people’s way of expressing a physical love as if conveying their emotions through their touch. A gentle caress could mean: I want to protect you. A hug could mean: I don’t want to let you go. A kiss on the cheek is telling the whole world: This one’s mine.
Certain people may take Physical Touch as an expression of how precious they are to the other person. If you have Physical Touch as your top love language, chances are you feel a sense of security when touched in a loving manner and crave the emotional and mental proximity that comes with physical proximity.
Though the quiz only ranks your love languages according to your scores for each of the five, a love language you scored high in could just be how you express love, but may not be applicable when it comes to the way you recognize love shown to you. It is important to get to know your own love languages and whether it’s in the receiving or giving perspective. Simply put, what you enjoy giving may not be what you enjoy receiving. And this is applicable for everyone. Hence why it is also important to get to know the love languages of the people around you whom you love – whether familial, platonic, or romantic love. Without acknowledging the different love languages between you and your loved one, miscommunication easily arises. You may be someone who strongly expresses and receives love in the form of Words of Affirmation, but your loved one may not be comfortable with expressing love verbally and goes about other ways to express their love. Without understanding the way they show love and how it differs from the way you recognize love, you may start feeling underappreciated and invalidated – resulting in miscommunication and a damaged relationship.
Love languages apply to everyone differently. Children feel love differently from teens who feel love differently than adults. People in romantic relationships feel love differently than people who have never been in love. People who have experienced struggles in their love life may also have a different take on their own expression of affection. Love languages could even be the way you express self-love. Heck, maybe it’s even the way you love your pet!
When the Valentine’s Season rolls around each year, many of us usually get too caught up with fantasies about romance and getting a boyfriend/girlfriend (be honest, you’ve definitely complained about being single on Valentine’s Day at least once). But most of the time, we are already surrounded with so much love and fail to notice that Valentine’s can be about family and friends too. So, this Valentine’s Season, tell your loved ones “I love you”. Love, after all, is the most powerful feeling in the world. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many songs written about it.