Communicating in Love Languages
Communicating in Love Languages
Written by Kelsie Goller, MA, LPC-S, RPT
Clinical Director, KPS
After a stressful week at work, imagine wrapping up in a warm blanket with hot cocoa and sitting down to a long chat with your significant other, who listens carefully and empathetically. Does this scenario invoke feelings of being loved and cared for? Or perhaps after your stressful week, you would rather receive a long back massage from your significant other. It may be that your loved one, knowing you have had a difficult week, surprises you with just the perfect, thoughtful gift to make you smile at the end of the week. Perhaps they simply take time to encourage you with words, telling you how much they appreciate you, how you are doing important work, how your strengths are shining through the difficult situations you are currently facing. Or perhaps your significant other quietly takes care of your least favorite responsibilities at home- whether it is the grocery shopping, cooking, or yard work- in order to take something off of your shoulders during the stressful time. In each of these situations, your loved one is communicating their care for you. But as with all communication, the message must be both sent and received in order to be communicated fully. If someone sends a text message in a cellular dead zone and the other person does not receive the text message, no communication has occurred. Identifying your own love language helps you to know how you most feel loved, so that you can communicate your needs to others. Identifying the love language of your partner, child, or friend can help you to communicate your love for them in the way that they will most fully receive that message.
The five love languages (according to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages) are as follows:
Acts of Service: doing something for your loved one that reduces their work load and takes care of one of their responsibilities
Physical Touch: hugs, holding hands, a hand on the back
Quality Time: full undivided attention either while talking or doing an activity together
Receiving Gifts: receiving a gift that shows thoughtfulness, effort, or sacrifice
Words of Affirmation: hearing compliments, encouragement, or “I love you.”
With five different love languages, it is not uncommon for your parent, child, spouse, or friend to “speak a different love language” than you! In order to truly communicate our care for the others around us, we need to identify the ways that they best feel cared for, appreciated, and loved. And we also need to be able to be mindful of our own innate need for love and belonging by being able to explain how we ourselves feel loved and cared for the best. Take the free quiz at 5lovelanguages.com/quizzes for yourself to explore how you feel loved best, and ask those around you to take the quiz, too. If you want to focus on how to show love best to your kids, there are options for quizzes for teens or 9-12 year old kids, as well as an option for creative ways of exploring love languages (in non-quiz-format) for kids 8 and younger. You can also read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages for a more in-depth exploration of each of the love languages (there are multiple versions for couples, singles, teenagers, children, etc.). The 5 Love Languages website also has other resources, such as a free online premarital counseling tool, podcasts, an app to remind you to “speak” your partner’s love language daily, gift ideas divided by love language and type of relationship, and more. Our need to be seen and loved is a core human experience; using love languages can be one tool to help us become experts in seeing and loving those around us and allowing them to see and love us better, too.
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