Your love language isn’t English, Italian, German, Portuguese, or any other verbal language you can learn in school. The term refers to the ways in which people give and receive love in their lives.
Although this includes romantic love, it may also affect how we prefer to give and receive love in friendships and other relationships too.
They can also shed light on your personal habits or behaviour that might not seem to be linked to love languages or relationships at all.
For example, a viral TikTok pointed out that your love language could be linked to self-destructive habits. If your preferred love language is words of affirmation, you might be prone to negative self-talk, or if your love language is gifts, you may tend to over-spend.
That’s just one of the many ways people might use love languages to learn more about relationships and their own mental health.
Not sure what your love language is? Here’s what you need to know about the five love languages, including love language examples, how to determine yours, and other insights and relationship advice from therapists.
The history of the five love languages
The love language concept comes from the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, which was first published in 1992.
In it, he describes the most common ways that people communicate love, based on his experience in marriage counselling and linguistics.
Everyone has a different idea of how to express love to those around them, explains Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist.
The trick is avoiding language barriers when your love language differs from that of your partner, family, or friend.
Couples need to find balance and harmony given their respective styles and differences to make sure they speak the language of love, says Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist and author of several books, including What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
What are the five love languages?
Acts of service
“Some of us prefer to express our appreciation through various acts of service, like running errands for our partners,” Hafeez says.
This love language essentially refers to the things loved ones do for each other to make their lives easier.
Giving or receiving gifts is a somewhat straightforward love language. People value the thought and effort that goes into the gift-giving process.
“People who speak this language cherish the gift and the time and thought put into the gift,” Hafeez adds.
Physical signs of affection, like hugging, kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and having sex, are ways to connect and communicate appreciation for those who prefer this love language.
“The love language physical touch includes those who require physical attention to express and know that they are loved,” Hafeez says.
Those who identify with this love language prioritize spending attentive time with their partner or loved one.
People who rely on quality time to express their passion need undivided attention from their loved ones instead of a simple “I love you,” according to Hafeez.
Speaking this love language may look like identifying a favourite activity to do together, acknowledging it, and doing it together.
Words of affirmation
People who prefer this love language value verbal and/or written communication and acknowledgment.
Those who speak this language prefer to express and receive their love through spoken words, rather than just spending time together, per Hafeez.