The essence of Chapman’s ideas are as follows. There are five basic ways that people understand and express love. They are:
- Words of Affirmation: Loving terms of endearment are expressed through praise, appreciation or affectionate words.
- Acts of Service: Small acts of kindness are performed without necessarily saying anything.
- Receiving Gifts: Giving gifts is used as a way of expressing love and affection.
- Quality Time: Affection and love are expressed by sharing undivided attention and time spent doing shared activities.
- Physical Touch: Hand-holding, kissing, and sex are all ways of expressing love.
Most of Us Prefer One Love Language
If you’re not sure which of these languages is your go-to method for communicating affection to your partner, there’s a quick quiz on the Five Languages website that you can take to see what your dominant language is. What is even more useful, though, is to also have your significant other take the quiz. You’ll quickly realize that if you don’t speak the same love language there are times when you probably feel a bit misunderstood or under-appreciated.
If, for example, you’ve spent a lot of time selecting a special present for someone while you were on a trip and then notice that same present is still in the box the next time you come to visit, you may feel hurt that the recipient hasn’t placed the gift in a prominent spot. In fact, it could simply be that the recipient doesn’t place a lot of value on giving and receiving gifts. Instead, going for a walk and sharing stories of your travels might be more meaningful to this particular person.
Nurture Your Relationship by Understanding Your Partner’s Love Language
The Love Languages Are Used All the Time
Love Languages Not Just a Nice Idea
Gift-giving, for example, is believed to provide a tangible way of acknowledging how one feels towards another person. An interesting way to combine languages is to give the gift of an experience, which taps into both the psychology of gift-giving (and receiving) and the language of quality time.
Quality time means really paying attention to the person you are with, whether or not you are engaged in a shared activity. That process of taking the time to do something together does seem to matter when it comes to maintaining healthy, close relationships.
If you took a general psychology course somewhere along the line you’ll remember the heart-rending experiments that deprived baby primates of contact with their mother. Given only a wire-framed form to cling to, the infants that had no physical touch languished. It turns out that humans also seem to be hard-wired to need physical touch. It’s no wonder that this language is one that people generally seem to understand and recognize as being important, even if it doesn’t wind up scoring highest in their language profile.
Words of Affirmation
Explicitly stating positive messages - whether in writing or by telling someone something positive can improve brain function and self-affirmation can help individuals stay focussed and balanced through challenging times.
Acts of Service
Doing a good deed makes both the doer and the recipient feel good. Dr. Rosser-Majors of Majors Leadership says that “…unselfish service inspires people… to go beyond, to aspire.” In turn, being the best version of ourselves makes it possible to nurture our primary relationships.