Love. Arguably one of few words with endless definitions. But there’s probably one thing we can agree on here: the act of love is different for everyone. How we show that we love someone and how we want that love reciprocated back to us varies from person to person. Even between people who may settle on the same definition of what love is. This notion, that everybody expresses love differently, is illustrated in the concept of love languages. Developed and popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman, the concept highlights the nuanced ways in which people give and receive love. There are 5 distinct languages, and we’re here to break them down for you.
Words of affirmation
Show love with words. If this is your language, you find love in communication. You’re all about those cute good morning texts. That midday “I’m thinking about you.” This love language isn’t all about compliments, though we do love some here and there. It’s more about random check-ins. It’s an “I miss you,” “I can’t wait to see you,” or “I hope you have a wonderful day!” If you want your love declared, this language matters to you.
Undivided attention is how you show your love. Or, it may be how you want to receive it. This is a love language that doesn’t really need words. It’s easily shown through a little Netflix and chill or in sharing a meal. It’s as simple as not being on your phone when you’re with someone. If this is your language, letting someone know that you appreciate their time, or seeing that they appreciate yours, is love.
Love is tactile. If this is a love language that you’re familiar with, you may find yourself yearning for cozy cuddles, a kiss hello and goodbye, and perhaps even a little PDA. This person is the hugger. The hand holder. The caresser. If you find love through touch or show it this way, for you, love is in proximity. It’s a reminder that you’re there, you’re close, and you want to be even closer.
Show love through things. This language finds love in all the small gifts. Maybe you pick up their favorite coffee on your way to seeing them, send them flowers on occasion, or surprise them with a soft, silky eyemask. Someone who finds love in gifts isn’t necessarily materialistic, they just love to know you’re paying attention. It means you know them and what they like. If you find love in gifts or love gifting, you know it’s always deeper than the object. It’s less about the gift and more about giving/receiving with this one.
Act of service
“I got this.” Holding the door open. Filling the gas tank. Cleaning up after dinner. For you, these might be more than just gestures of kindness, but true acts of love. If this is your language, you find love in the execution of simple everyday tasks. Whether it be having them done for you, or doing them for the one you love, this language whispers “You deserve to relax. Let me lighten the load.”
It’s very likely you show love in all of these ways. People in your life may show you in more than one of these languages how important you are to them. Truth is, we all gravitate toward one or two of these five love languages most prominently. If you’re unsure what language you speak, we suggest pausing the next time you’re feeling really loved. Whatever is going on in that moment will decode it all for you.