There’s just something about love. It’s something we can all relate to, feel good about, and why we’ve all seen Love Actually an obscene amount of times. But it’s also … complicated. (And if it weren’t, Julia Roberts would not be the rom com queen that she is.) There are misunderstandings, battles of wills, and the same pointless argument over whose turn it is to turn off the light before bed. (It’s their turn, not ours. Obviously.) So why do we need to complicate our lives even more by adding love languages to it?
The thing is, love languages are actually pretty helpful in our relationships. According to Gary Chapman — developer of the love languages concept and author of The Five Love Languages — there are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch. And while your partner might express their love in one way, you might receive it in another. Actually understanding both of your love languages might help you understand each other and communicate better. If you don’t have a partner, this concept also works for all types of relationships — friends, coworkers, your Starbucks barista. Which means love languages are not just helpful, but could be — dare we say it — life-changing?
Without further ado, here are the 5 love languages.
If you love to hear the words “I love you” again and again, this might be your love language. People with this love language value hearing verbal affections — like compliments, words of appreciation, and meaningful encouragement. That means frequent texting and calls, little notes left around the house, or pizzas with M&Ms that spell out “You’re the One.” (Wait. Is that just our rom com fantasy speaking, or…?)
If your partner has this love language, make sure to communicate often and tell them you love them. Instead of showing them, use your words to make sure they feel cherished, loved, and reassured. Do it often, and watch their eyes turn into actual heart eyes.
Those with quality time as a love language need to spend uninterrupted time with their significant others. That means zero distractions — so no Instagram scrolling, no watching TV while they tell you about their day, and definitely no multitasking. This camp needs your undivided attention and time to feel connected and loved.
To make quality time even more special, try doing an activity or experiencing something new together, having meaningful discussions or conversations, and holding lots of eye contact. This will help your QT-fluent partner feel like they’ve really connected with you and had real one-on-one time.
Acts of Service
If you light up at the fact that your partner made the bed for you this morning, there’s a good chance that acts of service is your love language. For those in this group, anything that you physically do to show you care or make your partner’s life easier is super meaningful and helps them feel seen and valued. Essentially, the phrase “actions speak louder than words” matters a lot here. So instead of telling your partner you love them, showing them is what matters most.
If you don’t know where to start or this sounds overwhelming, try offering to help with tasks and use action-phrased language, like “I can help with…” or “I’ll take care of…” — and then be sure to carry out the service. But remember, the little things count too — so even bringing your partner a hot coffee in bed in the morning can mean the world to them.
If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, it’s as straightforward as it sounds. They feel incredibly loved when receiving gifts that represent your love for them. But it’s not just about the gift itself — those with this love language go deeper, and truly appreciate the time and thoughtfulness necessary to pick out a gift just for them.
The key here is to give often — not just at birthdays and holidays. Does this mean you need to go all Daddy Warbucks and lavishly spend on a gift every day? Not at all. These gifts don’t need to be expensive or big as long as they mean something to your partner and show that they’re a priority.
Sure, we all love a good hug (especially after this year). But to people with this love language, nothing is more impactful than physical touch. It can be an affirming and powerful emotional act for this group. Are we talking about uncomfortable PDA that gives everyone around you second-hand embarrassment? We are definitely not. In fact, less intense physical touch works for this group, too — like holding hands, back rubs, kissing, cuddling, or hugging. This not only helps your partner feel loved, but actually really helps them thrive.
If physical touch isn’t exactly your thing and the thought of back-rubbing and rubbing noses wants to make you die, try focusing on doing something as simple as hand holding or an arm squeeze (we’re also big fans of a little butt tap!). The key is to just try to use your body language and touch to express love.
It seems that love languages are easy — almost deceptively easy. But putting them into practice regularly is where the real work comes in. No matter which languages you and your partner use, the most important thing is your willingness and an open, empathetic heart.