The five love languages are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Not everyone communicates love in the same way, and likewise, people have different ways they prefer to receive love. The concept of love languages was developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, where he describes these five unique styles of communicating love, categories he distilled from his experience in marriage counseling and linguistics.
1. Words of affirmation
People with words of affirmation as a love language value verbal acknowledgments of affection, including frequent “I love you’s,” compliments, words of appreciation, verbal encouragement, and often frequent digital communication like texting and social media engagement.
“Written and spoken shows of affection matter the most to these people,” couples’ psychotherapist Fariha Mahmud-Syed, MFT, CFLE, tells mbg. “These expressions make them feel understood and appreciated.”
2. Quality time
People whose love language is quality time feel the most adored when their partner actively wants to spend time with them and is always down to hang out. They particularly love when active listening, eye contact, and full presence are prioritized hallmarks in the relationship.
“This love language is all about giving your undivided attention to that one special person, without the distraction of television, phone screens, or any other outside interference. They have a strong desire to actively spend time with their significant other, having meaningful conversations or sharing recreational activities,” Mahmud-Syed says.
3. Acts of services
If your love language is acts of service, you value when your partner goes out of their way to make your life easier. It’s things like bringing you soup when you’re sick, making your coffee for you in the morning, or picking up your dry cleaning for you when you’ve had a busy day at work.
“This love language is for people who believe that actions speak louder than words. Unlike those who prefer to hear how much they’re cared for, people on this list like to be shown how they’re appreciated. Doing the smaller and bigger chores to make their lives easier or more comfortable is highly cherished by these folx,” shares Mahmud-Syed.
Gifts is a pretty straightforward love language: You feel loved when people give you “visual symbols of love,” as Chapman calls it. It’s not about the monetary value but the symbolic thought behind the item. People with this style recognize and value the gift-giving process: the careful reflection, the deliberate choosing of the object to represent the relationship, and the emotional benefits from receiving the present.
“People whose love language is receiving gifts enjoy being gifted something that is both physical and meaningful. The key is to give meaningful things that matter to them and reflect their values, not necessarily yours,” says Mahmud-Syed.
5. Physical touch
People with physical touch as their love language feel loved when they receive physical signs of affection, including kissing, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, and sex. Physical intimacy and touch can be incredibly affirming and serve as a powerful emotional connector for people with this love language. The roots go back to our childhood, Motamedi notes, some people only felt deep affection and love by their parents when they were held, kissed, or touched.
“People who communicate their appreciation through this language, when they consent to it, feel appreciated when they are hugged, kissed, or cuddled. They value the feeling of warmth and comfort that comes with physical touch,” says Mahmud-Syed.