What are the five love languages and which one is yours?

What are the five love languages? Knowing yours – or your SO's – love language can help your relationship thrive.

What are the five love languages
(Image credit: Getty Images Plus / iStock / Katerina Sisperova)

Relationships in 2020 are harder than they used to be. From trying the best dating apps to going on digital dates, finding that perfect relationship takes time. That's why knowing your love language – and even your SO’s – can help your relationship thrive. So, what are the five love languages?

Explaining the love languages

The five love languages are the invention of marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman. He saw a pattern between couples when they'd confide in him; couples didn't seem to speak the same language. He created five categories that represented how different types of people seem to express love differently. 

Words of affirmation

If you love hearing the words "I love you," but love hearing why even more, this might be your love language. For you, the saying "actions speak louder than words" isn't true. Words that are positive and encouraging are music to your ears. But insults are hard to forget and hurt more than physical pain might. 

If someone you love has this love language, make sure you're sincere when you speak to them. Hold back the insults, being very careful with your words during disagreements. 

Ideas: share a thank you, compliment or other words of kindness through cards, handwritten notes, texts, a phone call, etc.

Acts of service

If you love having someone help you with things on your to-do list or anything else to lighten your load, then this is your love language. You love to hear, "How can I help," but laziness, broken promises, or adding things to your plate makes you feel unloved. 

For a partner that speaks this love language, finding ways to serve and help is the way to love them best. They love to know they aren't alone in the responsibilities of life and that you're by their side to help. 

Ideas: ask how you can help and then make time to get those things done or find something you know needs to get done, such as housework, shopping, filling up their gas tank, or packing their lunch.

Receiving gifts

Just because you like to receive gifts doesn't mean you're materialistic. If this is your love language, you appreciate the thought and time put into the gift, and you've likely been dropping hints. You like being surprised by the thoughtfulness as much as the gift, and the best kind of gifts are the ones that have meaning behind them. Missing your birthday or other special days would be incredibly hurtful, but so is the absence of everyday gestures, because gifts are a visual reminder that you are loved. 

If this is the love language of someone you love, be sure to find a meaningful gift. Give it in a unique way, or make sure it's a surprise. The saying "it's the thought that counts" is the point of these gifts, not the gift itself. 

Ideas: watch their interest page or keep notes in your phone of things they've mentioned needing or wanting and get them "just because" gifts; bring them back something from a trip, buy their favorite dessert on the way home, or get tickets when a band they like is in town.

Quality time

Getting full undivided attention is your love language. Having your partner pay attention to you without distractions makes you feel like you are truly loved. But a distracted partner or failure to listen can hurt and cause division. 

If your love needs quality time to feel appreciated, it can be one of the easiest things to do since you (hopefully) like spending time with them. Be sure to put down the phone, turn off the TV, and share some quality time through conversation or activities you both enjoy. 

Ideas: find time to spend a few minutes of uninterrupted time here and there, such as having breakfast together, catching up after work, taking a walk together, or even going to bed together. 

Physical touch

If this is your love language, you're probably very touchy – in a good way. You love holding hands or a good cuddle. These gestures show not only care but the excitement of being close to you. You tend to feel more secure in a relationship with plenty of physical presence and touch, but neglect or abuse are the end of the road for you.

Having a loved one with this language doesn't mean they always want sex. They just need to feel close to you physically. Make sure that you are generous with your affection and that you don't withhold it when angry.

Ideas: be intentional about expressing your love physically, such as giving hugs, holding their hand, offering to give a massage after a long day, and always kissing hello and goodbye. 

How to tell which love language is yours

Now that you know the answer to the question, "What are the five love languages?" it's time to learn which one is yours. Most likely, how your parents loved you is how you learned to give and receive love. How you show love to your partner isn't as much a sign of their language as it is yours, so pay attention to how you give love – that's likely your language.

You may identify with parts of each love language, but there should be one that resonates with you more. If it's not easy to identify your love language from the information shared above, Dr. Chapman has a quiz on his website to help. 

Using the five love languages to benefit your relationship

Knowing your love language is important, but knowing your partner’s may be even more so. You need to show love to them in the way they need it to be most effective. In his book, Dr. Chapman emphasizes that your communication and bond can be strengthened when you understand your partner's love language. Maybe your partner needs to read this article, too!