Developed by American marriage counsellor Gary Chapman and diffused with his 1992 publication of ‘The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate’, the theory of ‘The Five Love Languages’ has captured popular imagination ever since. In the past decade, the theory has become more mainstream than ever given an upsurge of interest via TikTok and social media. Charlotte Deville explores how ‘Love Languages’ have become a commonly known and used notion in relationship-related discussions, especially amongst later Millennials and Gen-Zs.
To outline Chapman’s theory, the ‘Five Love Languages’ are ‘Words of Affirmation’, ‘Quality Time’, ‘Acts of Service’, ‘Receiving Gifts’, and ‘Physical Touch’. One’s personal ‘Love Language’ represents the way in which you prefer to receive love, or your partner to express their love to you. Understanding that of yourself and your partner is a valuable tool for strengthening relationships, improving communication, and maintaining an intimate connection.
To determine one’s preference, the ‘Love Languages Quiz’ identifies the percentage proportion of each ‘Language’ within your personal profile. Alongside this, Chapman’s ‘Love Nudge’ app links partner’s profiles, allows them to set goals, nudge each other, and track the progress of their habits.
So, what does each ‘Love Language’ entail? And how can this be implemented within romantic relationships, friendships, and as a form of self-care?
this could provide the self-esteem and self-love boost that one may be craving
Words of Affirmation
Identified by Chapman as the most popular ‘Love Language’ from a 2010 analysis of 10,000 respondents, ‘Words of Affirmation’ entails verbal assertions of encouragement, appreciation and compliments. Marriage therapist Fariha Mahmud-Syed cites the importance of expressions being verbal, intentional, and genuine to convey the feeling of being understood and appreciated.
In action, one may often say ‘I love you’ to their partner, or send them affectionate text-messages when apart. Within friendships, ensure to hype them up by commenting on their social media posts, or cheer them on when watching them achieve something.
It can be harder to demonstrate this for yourself, but ‘Mirror Work’ may provide the answer. By looking at yourself in the mirror and speaking positive personal affirmations out loud, such as “I am valuable and worthy” or “I am strong”, this could provide the self-esteem and self-love boost that one may be craving.
More recently, and conflicting Chapman’s findings, dating app Hinge found ‘Quality Time’ to be the most popular Love Language. Although ‘Words of Affirmation’ ranked second, ‘Quality Time’ proved 200% more popular in this case!
Deliberately spending time doing something you enjoy with the absence of distractions, especially screen time, is highly refreshing
Identified by statements in the ‘Love Languages Quiz’ such as “it’s more meaningful to me when… I get to spend undivided leisure time with my partner”, individuals with this ‘Language’ desire their partner’s full presence when around them, and a strong desire to actively spend time, engage in meaningful conversations, and share experiences together.
For oneself, you may invest time in positive activities for your mental and physical health, such as going for a run, practising yoga, or treating yourself to a solo-shopping trip. Deliberately spending time doing something you enjoy with the absence of distractions, especially screen time, is highly refreshing if you personally identify with this category.
With friends, intentionally making space in your calendar to catch-up in person, or perhaps try a new activity or restaurant that you share a passion for, may be the answer. Whilst at university, scheduling regular time to call your friends from home is another solution.
Romantically, regularly spending time together and planning dates is highly important. You may enjoy cooking a new recipe together, going for a Sunday stroll and coffee, sharing a creative or active hobby. Or, you could intentionally make the time to book an exciting trip away together.
Acts of Service
As the ‘Love Language’ that secured women who identify with this 6.6 times more likes on Hinge than other women, such a stat suggests that men prefer a woman with this preference, and prefer to express love in this way.
Centred around actions, individuals feel loved when their partner completes a task for them that makes their life easier. Their partner’s appreciation is evident by their consideration of your schedule, and subsequent action to alleviate some chores.
Romantically, this may involve picking up some food-shopping or making their bed for them, preparing their morning coffee, or driving them to or from the station, airport, or workplace.
In friendships, this may include offering to look after a pet when you know they are going away, hanging up their washing, or collecting or posting a parcel for them if you are housemates.
To ‘serve’ yourself, one may decide to meal-prep some healthy dinners before a busy week, laying out your clothes the night before an early-start, decluttering your personal space, or completing overdue to-do list tasks that are weighing on your mind.
a gift that represents the values of the relationship and the receiver themselves, emphasises the love behind it — not the monetary value
Here, it is not ‘being spoilt’, but the symbolic value and thoughtfulness that matters. A partner’s deliberate selection of a gift, a gift that represents the values of the relationship and the receiver themselves, emphasises the love behind it — not the monetary value.
One may bring their partner a souvenir home from a trip abroad to demonstrate they were thinking of them whilst they were apart. Highly significant would also be receiving a well-considered, sentimental gift to mark significant occasions and milestones.
For a friend, small offerings such as a bunch of their favourite flowers or their best-loved home-baked treat would go a long way. Such a notion demonstrates forward-thought and effort to deliver a token that aligns with their personal tastes.
To gift yourself, you may invest in items that will enhance your experience of a hobby or passion that already incites happiness, such as new running trainers or golf clubs.
Finally, ranking more common in men than in women, physical touch is an emotional connector that conveys intimacy and warmth. Psychologist Sunny Motamedi suggests this may be rooted in childhood, explaining that some children only feel loved when their caregivers hold, kiss, or cuddle them.
This is most easily applied to romantic relationships, whereby frequent kisses, hand holding whilst walking or sitting together, and being sexually active are regularly welcomed.
In friendships, ensure to greet them with a hug, high-five them to celebrate their wins, offer to do their hair before a night out, or give them a massage when they’re tired.
Personally, one may treat themselves to positive physical experiences such as a long and warm bath or shower, stretching through yoga or Pilates, wearing comfortable clothing, and maintaining a daily skin-care routine.
it is nevertheless an effective and fun theory that should certainly benefit both parties, and aid the relationship to reach its thriving potential
So, you may treat this theory and these practical tips as a valuable tool to enhance your romantic relationships, friendships, and connection to yourself. However, I stress the importance of not losing sight of the fact that this is not a solution for guaranteed happiness. Self-regulation and consideration of deeper issues are examples of other requirements and complexities of a successful relationship.
Whilst you should not rely on ‘Love Languages’, it is nevertheless an effective and fun theory that should certainly benefit both parties, and aid the relationship to reach its thriving potential.
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