Melanie McFadyen

Using Love Languages to Communicate Effectively

Blog Post created by Melanie McFadyen on Feb 14, 2019

What's Your Love Language?


Have you ever received a gift from a friend or romantic partner, only to wish you could spend more time with them instead? Have you ever given someone a hug only to find that physical touch makes them uncomfortable?


According to Dr. Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages, that may be due to a predisposition in how we prefer to receive and give love to others. Though this book was originally published in 1995, new editions and online quizzes have ensured that the concept is still highly discussed in academia, friend circles, and (of course) social media.


For those unfamiliar with love languages, the theory suggests that there are five main ways in which we show our affection for others, and that we each have a preference for both how we receive affection, and how we give affection.


For example, if you enjoy baking cookies for your friends, that doesn't necessarily mean that you want your friends to bake for you in exchange. Instead, you might appreciate having your friends offer to help pick up groceries, or hearing them praise your baking skills. Of course, while your friends might be grateful for the time you took to make them, they might have preferred that you spent that time with them instead.



These individual preferences can lead to communication problems, especially when we unknowingly prioritize our relationship goals over theirs (#relationshipgoals, anyone?). When you bring your partner out to a nice restaurant, you may consider that a sign of love, but they might be wishing you'd just clean the kitchen instead. 



Whether or not you subscribe to this theory, it's important to consider the ways in which we express our affection for others, and make sure that we're paying attention to their preferences for how they want to be treated. It's also important to recognize how we want to be treated. Once we recognize and communicate those distinctions, we can ensure that we're giving and receiving love in the ways in which our loved ones - including ourselves - deserve.


See below for a list and a brief description of each of the love languages discussed in Chapman's book. Of course, you'll likely enjoy expressions of love in all five categories, but the theory of the five languages is that there are one or two you respond to more than the others, whether or not you realize it right away.


Words of Affirmation - Verbal or written communication that encourages, validates, and offers active support and appreciation. Examples: "I love you," "I really admire you," "I'm here for you."


Acts of Service - Helpful, thoughtful deeds that show your attention to their needs and your willingness to help ease their burdens.  Examples: Offering to help with their cleaning or cooking, driving, or running errands.


Receiving Gifts - The thought, effort, and care that goes into the choosing of a gift can mean a great deal to those receiving it. 



Quality Time - The act of giving someone your undivided attention (that means not looking at your phone, but at your partner) while talking or participating in an activity together. 


Physical Touch Physical touches like hugging, kissing, or even holding hands can prove a powerful way of providing support, attention, and a feeling of togetherness. 



What do you think of these five love languages? Can you think of other examples of showing someone you care about them? How might understanding another's primary love language help you improve your relationship with them?


Whatever your primary and secondary love language, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day!