Love is expressed in many beautiful ways, the most obvious being verbal—the “I love yous,” the endearing nicknames, The Wedding Singer-like love songs, and what have you. The reality is, though, that not everyone speaks the same love language.
But don’t fret; there’s no need to download Duolingo or google “how-to” websites. “Love language” is simply the way each of us naturally gives and receives affection.
Whether you’re looking to discover yours or understand how you can honor that of those around you, this is your go-to guide to connect deeper in your relationships.
- What Is a Love Language?
- What Are the 5 Love Languages?
- What Is My Love Language? Take a Quiz
- How to Use Love Language to Improve Your Relationships
With a little bit of self-discovery and communication, you’ll be well on your way to a life filled with love that truly speaks your language.
What Is a Love Language?
Love is the ultimate universal language. However, how we express it or receive it can vary greatly from one person to the next.
They’re concepts introduced in the book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by psychologist Dr. Gary Chapman. In it, he presents the idea that each of us has a preferred way of giving and receiving love, whether in romance or otherwise.
Based on Dr. Chapman’s insights, the key to a happy relationship is not only expressing how you want to be loved but also learning and becoming fluent in the language of the other. And that’s where the five “love languages” come into play.
In fact, a PLOS ONE study suggests that love languages, especially in heterosexual relationships, are important. Their findings showed that the participants, both men and women, had higher levels of relationship and sexual satisfaction when their partners used the love languages they preferred. It was also found that the people in the study were happier when they used the love languages that their partners liked to hear.
These five ways of expression are about honoring how your person would like to be appreciated, emanating the spiritual laws of love.
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct,” explains Dr. Chapman in his book. “That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely.”
What Are the 5 Love Languages?
When we’re able to understand our own love language as well as that of those around us, we’re able to better connect deeply and emotionally, as well as strengthen our relationships.
So what are the five love languages? Here’s an overview of each of the ones Dr. Chapman describes:
1. Words of affirmation
Affirmations are essentially encouragement or emotional support. Put them into words, and you get, as Dr. Chapman puts it, “verbal compliments or words of appreciation.”
They’re typically associated with self-love techniques, but this love language can make someone feel like a VIP guest at Disneyland. Here are a few examples of what words of affirmation can sound like:
- “I’m grateful for you.”
- “I appreciate you.”
- “You’re always there for me.”
- “You’re so talented.”
- “I admire your strength.”
Expressing these powerful messages of love can mitigate the negative effects of stress, which is great for conflict management. And the incredible thing is, neuroscientists have found that words of affirmation are processed similarly to financial rewards in the brain.
So, if this is the love language of the people you love, be sure to give them a compliment, express how much they are appreciated, or simply tell them that they’re loved.
2. Acts of service
Actions speak louder than words. So those with this love language feel most loved when someone does something helpful for them.
“By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do,” explains Dr. Chapman, using his wife as a reference. “You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her.”
Here are a few examples of acts of service:
- Doing household chores, like the dishes or laundry
- Cooking dinner
- Planning a special date or outing
- Taking care of the person when they’re sick
- Listening and offering advice
There are benefits to helping others—it’s called the “helper’s high.” Studies have shown that acts of service can release feel-good brain chemicals, lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
If this is the love language of the people you love, be sure to do something helpful for them.
3. Physical touch
A simple touch can trigger the release of oxytocin, the “love” hormone, which then can help lower cardiovascular stress, according to an article in the University of Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine. Moreover, it signals safety and trust, contributing to the bond between people.
“If your spouse’s primary love language is physical touch,” explains Dr. Chapman, “nothing is more important than holding her as she cries.”
Here are a few examples of what physical touch can look like:
- Hugging, cuddling, or snuggling
- Holding hands
- Sitting near each other
- Back rubs
- Kisses on the cheek or forehead
It’s about body language, which can spark feelings of attraction. And if this is how the people you love prefer to be loved, be sure to do so.
4. Quality time
When it comes to this love language, Dr. Chapman provides this example in his book: “When I sit with my wife and give her twenty minutes of my undivided attention and she does the same for me, we are giving each other twenty minutes of life.”
Time is one thing that we can’t ever get back. With this busy lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to, giving someone a portion of it with our full attention is one of the greatest acts of love.
Here are some ideas for how to spend quality time:
- Doing what the other person likes to do
- Playing with your children
- Planning and going on a vacation together
- Exercising together
- Going on date nights
It’s no secret that many of us are always on the go, go, go, so who’s got time for quality time? Here’s the thing, though: a study published in Psychological Science found that helping others can make us feel like we have more time. As a result, it will assist us with whatever we need to accomplish.
So if it’s quality time your person is asking for, be sure to put away the distractions and be in the present with them.
A present can absolutely make the other person feel good, but it also does good for the person giving it.
According to an article by the American Psychological Association, the act of gift-giving activates the parts of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. As a result, it creates a “warm glow” effect, which is an “intrinsic delight in doing something for someone else.”
Here are a few ways to show you care through a thoughtful gift:
- Romantic date night
- Bouquet of flowers (or chocolate)
- Love letter written from the heart
- Books from their “to read” list
- Jewelry that reminds you of them
As Dr. Chapman wrote, “A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, ‘Look, he was thinking of me’ or ‘She remembered me.’ You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.”
So if this is your person’s love language, be sure to shower them with things they like.
What Is My Love Language? Take a Quiz
You don’t have to choose just one of the five love language types; in fact, many people have multiple preferences. If you’re not sure what yours is, you can take the Love Language™ Quiz created by Dr. Chapman.
Here are a few tips before you dive in:
- You can absolutely do it on your own to find out your primary love language. Save your results so you can use it as future reference.
- Do it together with your partner, family, or friends so you can immediately understand each other’s lingo.
- Have a discussion on each other’s love needs and how you can honor them.
It’s when these conversations happen that love is admired, respected, and honored at its highest level, as it should.
How to Use Love Language to Improve Your Relationships
Love languages are a simple concept, and respecting them can greatly improve your relationships with others. While it brings on curiosity and creativity, it doesn’t cultivate mind-reading abilities.
For example, you’re more of a hugger, but your partner may feel valued by thoughtful gifts. As a way to show each other love, they might buy you something that reminds them of you; meanwhile, you may be wondering why they won’t wrap their arms around you when you’re watching TV at night. Chances are, it’ll leave you both feeling disconnected.
William James, a psychologist, says that the need to be appreciated may be the most basic human need. And when you’re able to identify your primary and secondary love languages, it’ll make it easier for your partner to provide you with what you innately crave, and vice versa.
Using them can help open up your heart to a deeper emotional bond within your relationships.
Let’s look at different situations and how you can use a specific love language to build better relationships with insights from Mindvalley’s quest trainers.
In the workplace
According to Gallup’s 2022 report, three out of four employees feel burned out on the job at times. What’s more, “quiet quitters” account for at least 50% of the U.S. workforce, if not more.
“Work shouldn’t just be about getting things done,” says Vishen, founder of Mindvalley, during his stage talk at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2018 in Sardinia. “Work should feel happiness. It should fuel joy. It’s reflected in the office spaces.”
One simple way to make a big difference in morale is by using words of affirmation. Tell employees that they matter, that their work is important, and that their efforts are valued.
And when you bring love into the workplace, it creates an atmosphere of warmth, compassion, and kindness.
In a long-term relationship
It goes without saying that maintaining a relationship takes work. This is where acts of service can be useful.
A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that sharing chores is a major contributor to a good marriage. This can range from filling up the gas tank, washing the dishes, doing laundry, cooking dinner, and even enjoying sexual pleasures.
“The couples that tend to have sex at least one to two times a week tend to be happier and stay together longer,” Dr. Amy Killen, sex medicine expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest, explains in an episode of The Mindvalley Podcast. And learning what tickles their fancy is a great way to honor their love language.
As a parent
The reality is that children are bound to be upset and throw tantrums. And when this happens, it’s easy to fall into angry, flabbergasted, or exasperated mode.
As a parent, it’s important not to react. “To enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority,” says Dr. Shefali Tsabary, clinical psychologist, in her Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest on Mindvalley.
Instead, remember that your child doesn’t yet know how to express their feelings. And what can also help is hugging them or putting your hand on their shoulder.
According to studies, the simple act of physical touch between a parent and child has enormous health benefits. Not only does it make the relationship stronger, but it also helps you relax, builds trust, and makes you feel more love, acceptance, and safety.
What’s more, the simple act of giving your child a hug, holding their hands, and wrapping your arms around them when they sleep unblocks the heart chakra. By balancing that particular energy center, you’re more open to love, forgiveness, and compassion.
On a date
Dating can be quite an adventure. And while you may not yet know the love language of your date, the safest bet is to give them quality time.
Put your distractions away and be in the present on your date. And a great way to show them your focus is on them is through body language.
“It is the first language before the spoken word,” according to Linda Clemons, body language expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Body Language for Dating & Attraction Quest, in an episode of The Mindvalley Podcast.
So during this quality time, how can you use your body language? A few dating tips she suggests include eye contact, listening with your head tilted, and looking and leaning in.
Humans are social creatures, so having friends is part of our hierarchy of needs. Their presence contributes to our happiness, which then helps us stay healthier and live longer.
Giving someone a gift can make them feel better, improve their mental and emotional health, and remind them that you’re still their friend. And that act of kindness and thoughtfulness is not without benefits—giving to others is linked to your longevity, according to science.
Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight and trainer for Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest, says in his book Never Eat Alone: “It’s better to give before you get. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.”
So find out what they like—it could be a nice cup of coffee, a spa day, or a handwritten postcard. Whether big or small, if it touches their heart, chances are they’ll cherish it for years to come.
Speak the Language of Love
Whether you are in a relationship, single, or just looking to connect with others, learning another person’s love language can have a huge impact on your relationship. As well, identifying yours can help you learn more about yourself.
If you want to be more aware of your relationships and attract heart-centered people into your life, you can learn how to speak the language of love in the following Mindvalley quests:
- Live by Your Own Rules Quest with Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani helps you discover how to have an authentic relationship with yourself.
- Tantra Touch Quest with the late Psalm Isadora helps you explore your sexuality and sensuality with your partner.
- Energies of Love Quest with Donna Eden and David Feinstein teaches you how to interpret your partner’s unique energetic patterns in order to deeply understand, respect, and appreciate each other.
- Calling in The One with Katherine Woodward Thomas guides you through how to find your true “love identity” so you can receive the love you need in your life.
- Lifebook Online with Jon and Missy Butcher guides you through an envisioning process in various aspects of life, including love and social relationships.
When you sign up for a Mindvalley account, you’ll get access to free lessons for each quest. What’s more, you’ll be able to listen to selected guided meditations, designed specifically to help you thrive in love.
As Dr. Chapman says, “Love is a choice you make every day.” And you can choose it every single day.