The five love languages

Gary Chapman provides a number of distinctions to have more meaningful relationships in his book the Five Love languages.

What would happen if we spoke a different language than our partner’s? We have different rules to feel loved. What happens if your strategy to feel loved is different to the one of your partner? Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five categories proved to be universal, five love languages. And we all identify primarily with one of them. If you identify and use the primary way of expressing and interpreting love of your partner, she or he will feel loved.

What happens to love after the wedding? What will happen if your language is Chinese and hers is German? We must be willing to learn our partner’s primary love language if we want to be effective communicators of love. Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary love language.

Falling in love and feeling loved

There is significant difference between falling in love, when you are dazzling and dreaming awake and love. When you are at its peak in the in-love experience you are euphoric. We are emotionally obsessed with each other.

Dr Dorothy Tennov conducted a long range of experiments and concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years. At the end of these two years you usually resign to a life of misery with your partner or jump ship and try again.

We can recognize the in-love experience as a temporary emotional high to then pursue the “real love” with our partner. This love is emotional but is not obsessional. It is the one that unites reason and emotion. When you are in-love there is no reason.

Our basic emotional need is not to be in-love, but to be loved by another and a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. “I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me somebody worth of loving”.

This kind of love requires discipline and effort. It is the choice to spend energy to benefit the other person. Our mate accepts us, wants us and is committed to our well-being. It is intentional. If love is a choice, then we have the capacity to love once the “in love” obsession has died. The game is how we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved.

Love language nr. 1: words of affirmation

Mark Twain said: “I can live two months on a good compliment”.

Verbal compliments, words of appreciation are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple and straightforward statements. Every time he or she does something good, give him/her a verbal compliment.

Be kind. Kind words are a soft answer that turns away anger. Do not blame. Love does not keep scoring of wrongs. Leave bad things in the past.  You have the option of justice or forgiveness. Go for the second.

It is amazing the amount of individuals that mess up every day with yesterday. We cannot erase the past but we can accept it as history. We can choose to live free today from the failures of yesterday.

Be humble:  Love makes requests, not demands. Appreciate the things you like about the other person and suspend the complaints about the things you do not like.

Love language nr. 2: quality time

It is about giving your focused attention. Give your partner your undivided attention. A primary way is through quality conversations. Words of affirmation focus on what you are saying. Quality conversations focus on what you are listening to.

In the case of women, they usually do not want advice, only to know that they are understood. Marriage is a relationship, not a project to be completed or a problem to be solved.

Research shows that an average individual listens only for seventeen seconds before interrupting or interjecting his own ideas.

Love language nr. 3: receiving gifts

Gift giving is part of the love-marriage process. The attitude of love is always accompanied by the concept of giving. At the heart of love is the spirit of giving. Behind a gift there is the element of “he was thinking on me”, “she remembered me”. The gift is a symbol of that thought. Gifts are visual symbols of love.

This language is more important to some people than to others. You may need to change your attitude about money. If receiving gifts is a primary love language for your partner, purchasing gifts becomes an investment.

Do not underestimate the gift of yourself. The gift of your presence being there when your partner needs you speaks loudly to the one whose primary language is receiving gifts. Physical and indivisible presence at the time of crisis is powerful. Your body becomes the symbol of your love.

Love language nr. 4: acts of service

You seek to please your partner by serving her/him, by doing things for her/him. Keep in mind that requests give the direction of love and demands stop the flow of love. Love is always freely given, it is a choice that can not be coerced. We must never demand anything.

Love language nr. 5: physical touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love.

Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be destructive.

Two observations:

Before marriage the force of obsession carries us along. We revert to be the person we were before after the phase of being in love.

Then, the model of our parents, our own personality, our perceptions of love, our emotions, needs and desires influence our actions. One thing is clear; we will not exhibit the same behavior before and after we were “in love”.

Your partner’s criticisms about your behavior provide you with the clearest clue to her/his primary love language. People tend to criticize their partner more loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.

Three hints to discover your primary language

  1. What does your partner fail to do that hurts you more deeply? The opposite of what hurts you is probably your love language.
  2. What have you most often requested of your partner? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you most loved.
  3. In what way you regularly express your love to your partner? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of what would also make you feel loved.


  • CHAPMAN, Gary. “The 5 love languages”