Love Languages Explained: What They Are And How To Use Them

Learn The 5 Love Languages So You Can Better Understand Your Partner (And Friends)

October 24, 2017 Updated July 24, 2021

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Love languages are an interesting piece of any relationship — both platonic and romantic — that maybe not enough people consider. Author Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the original book on love languages, noting that so many of the issues couples run into with their relationships can be traced back to not understanding their partner’s love language. Your love language, put simply, is how you express love and how you feel love. Some people choose to use words to get their point across, whereas others aren’t comfortable doing so. This is why understanding other people’s love languages can open up so much communication in a relationship like you may have never realized.

Dr. Chapman created a quiz for people to discover their love language — something any couple should consider doing. Once you find out your partner’s love language, you can better show your own affection and vice versa. Discovering your love languages can also alleviate tension in a relationship if you’ve run into a barrier where the two of you aren’t on the same wavelength. It could simply come down to your love language being physical touch and dating someone who has an aversion to hugs.

Ahead, find the five love languages explained with some ideas for how to express yourself.

Five Types of Love Languages

There are five types of love languages that are very broad. If you look at these and think you probably don’t fall into any of these categories, don’t worry — you definitely do. You might just need to think about them a little bit outside the obvious. Here are the five love languages explained.

Words of Affirmation

The words of affirmation love language is all about a loved one verbally telling you how they feel and how much they appreciate you. If this is your love language, you really desire someone telling you they love you by saying the words, “I love you.” You also like being told by loved ones that they’re proud of you and like telling others that you appreciate them. Between you and your partner, you genuinely value expressing yourself literally in words.

Quality Time

The quality time love language is valued by people who perhaps aren’t as good with words and don’t necessarily like physical touch. With this love language, you want to spend time with your partner or loved ones, enjoying one another’s company. This proclivity goes beyond, however, simply spending time together. If this is your love language, you truly want your partner to want to spend that time with you because this time together is so important. So, during your time together, you focus on togetherness and being present with each other.

Physical Touch

If your love language is physical touch, you rely on actually touching your partner to show you care. You relish in them touching you back, whether it’s a gentle squeeze of the hand, an arm around your waist, or a tight hug. You find comfort in feeling your partner’s skin so that you can physically pass your love between you through these acts. Physical touch can also go much deeper and involve kissing, caressing, and sex, as intimacy is what you’re ultimately after with this love language.

Acts of Service

Some people aren’t great with words and don’t necessarily want to be close to people physically — for them, their love language might be acts of service. If this is you, you love doing kind things for your partner and love when they show you they care in return. They don’t have to be big things. It’s the little things like filling up your gas tank when they know you’re low or taking over the kids’ bath time so you can have 10 minutes to yourself. For people with this love language, actions speak louder than words — and they happily go out of their way to show their partners that.

Receiving Gifts

Yes, giving and receiving gifts is a love language since some people want to shower their partner with gifts to show they care. It isn’t necessarily about the money involved with this love language. It’s about finding or making the perfect gift for your partner because you know them so well and know what they’d appreciate the most. People whose love language is gift-giving always get the best gifts for people because it means so much to them to share their feelings through presents.

Love Languages Among Friends

Love languages are universal and don’t just work for romantic partners. Your love language is your love language in all aspects of life. However, you might have a different love language for your friends and family than you do for your romantic partners. Scary Mommy created a sample love language for kids quiz you can use to enhance your relationship with your child. You can learn your love language as a single person or as a couple on the 5 Love Languages website and see if your answers differ. Chances are, though, that your love language is the same with everyone.

That being said, you might express your love language differently with your friends than you would with a partner. For example, if your love language is words of affirmation, you might be the type who always reminds your friends that you’re proud of what they’re doing or telling them that they’re great parents. We all get so caught up in our busy lives that we can forget that the simple sentence, “Hey, you’re doing a great job as a mom; I hope you know that,” can make someone’s day.

If your love language is quality time, you’re probably the friend who always tries to get the group together or make plans with your bestie. Every friend group needs that person because you’re the glue that keeps everything together!

Acts of service among friends can manifest in many ways. Consider any little thing you do to help out your friends. If this is your love language, you probably email your friends job listings that you think they’d be awesome at or text them a meme every morning to make them smile. All of these are acts of service, even if you don’t feel like you’re doing some big thing to impact their lives. Trust us when we say it’s the little things that make all the difference in the world.

Is food a love language?

You may have heard your friend say that food is their love language, and some experts may agree. Patrick Wanis, a relationship and human behavior expert, told SheKnows, “Food incorporates all the other five languages and all five senses. It’s a very powerful way of creating a connection and expressing love.” Sharing a meal with someone is a very intimate act and can help break down walls and people grow more comfortable with one another.