The 5 Love Languages: What are they and how do they affect me

Tiffany L. Neri
·6 min read

“WE HAVE to break up because we’re just too different.”

The truth is, a lot of differences can be worked out and worked through. It may be tiring, yes, but that’s because love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action. And real love takes work—with a little more understanding and a lot more effort.

5 Love Languages

Being citizens of the internet, most of you have probably already heard about “The 5 Love Languages” concept based on the #1 New York Times bestselling book by Dr. Gary Chapman.

If you haven’t, it’s basically a slippery slope that takes you down the rabbit hole of psycho-analyzing yourself and the people around you based on love languages. It spills the tea on how everyone gives and receives love differently and how relationships grow better when we understand each other’s ways and needs.

Here’s a basic lowdown of what the 5 Love Languages are and how you can apply them to the different relationships in your life—from friends to significant others to family.

1. Words of Affirmation

You know that saying about sticks and stones and words that don’t hurt? Well, for people whose love language involves words of affirmation—words hurt, man. They put so much importance on what you say, so it might be best to really, truly, genuinely think before you say anything with them.

How to communicate:

Be an active listener, encouraging, affirmative and appreciative.

Actions to take:

Send them an unexpected note, slide a sweet little message into their DMs or even make them a cute little card. Give them some soothing words of encouragement or a genuine compliment. Apologize using your words. What’s important is the message.

Things to avoid:

Avoid non-constructive criticism, playing the blame game and not giving recognition to their effort.

It’s all about empathy. Remember that words are very meaningful, so what you say can make or break your relationship.

2. Physical Touch

Those whose love language is physical touch value skinship. Not necessarily romantic skinship—though in a romantic relationship, they put a lot of value in that too—but even physical affection plain and simple will mean a lot to your loved one.

How to communicate:

Use the non-verbal signals like body language and touch to relay affection and love.

Actions to take:

It’s as simple as holding hands, a big hug, a pat on the head, a kiss—show physical affection and intimacy regularly.

Things to avoid:

Of course, physical abuse is a big no-no. But even not doing something—like physical neglect, long periods without intimacy and receiving affection coldly will definitely mess with your relationship too.

It’s all about affection. Even something as small as a pat on the back will be something that helps you strengthen your relationship with your person.

3. Receiving Gifts

Some people just like receiving gifts and it’s actually more about the idea of thoughtfulness. Those whose love language is to receive or give gifts are not necessarily materialistic—getting a gift from someone means that even though you weren’t together, they were thinking of you.

How to communicate:

Be thoughtful and purposeful—make your partner a priority.

Actions to take:

Thoughtful gifts, little gestures, expressing gratitude when you receive something from them, saying thank you—it’s the little things that matter. Doing small things will go a long way.

Things to avoid:

The things to avoid are actually not so far from the cringey stuff we see in videos that get shared on our social media feed—forgetting special occasions, demanding more and not being appreciative when receiving a gift are all red flag moments for them.

It’s all about thoughtfulness. In a relationship with a partner who likes receiving gifts, more often than not, it’s the thought that counts.

4. Quality time

Though many might think this is the easiest love language of all to fulfill, you’ll find that it actually goes deeper than just being in the same room together for a period of time. It isn’t just time you have to spend with this loved one—you also have to be in the moment.

How to communicate:

Just as important as it is to spend some nice QT (quality time) and one-on-one time, uninterrupted and focused conversations are the best way to communicate.

Actions to take:

Go on a walk or a date or a drive or a vacation—just go together. Do little and big things. Be present. What’s important is to make special memories with this person—big and small.

Things to avoid:

Don’t spend all your free time apart nor never have one-on-one time. While you’re spending some nice QT, make sure you aren’t being distracted the whole time and taking your partner for granted otherwise you can just drop the word ‘quality’ and it wouldn’t be spending quality time, it would just be spending time—which is alright but it isn’t Q.

It’s all about mindfulness. There’s so much that can be achieved by just being present and living in the moment with the person you love.

5. Acts of Service

Last but not the least is “acts of service”. Service is a whole bonanza in itself because it’s an action word that involves selflessness and sensitivity. Those who like giving and receiving acts of service put in and expect effort with a capital E.

How to communicate:

Let your partner know that you are there to actively help them and lighten their load. It’s a good idea to use action phrases like “Let me help you do this...” or “Don’t worry, I’m gonna do this for you...”

Actions to take:

Doing chores together is a nice way to hit #4 and #5 on this list with one stone. You can even cook them a meal, help them pack their things and help them with errands—whatever it is you can to help lighten their load.

Things to avoid:

Avoid not following through on doing what you said you would do and prioritizing other people’s requests over the request of your partner.

It’s all about focused selflessness. The act of service involves doing something for the sake of another person and some might find putting in the effort a little difficult. Though this love language is oftentimes overlooked “because it’s a hassle”, it’s one that goes a long way indeed.