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Love languages

Everyone has a different way of communicating their love. The love languages could be a helpful starting point on your way to understanding each other better.

Last updated on October 22, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on June 27, 2023.

What is a love language, exactly?

Do you have a friend who says they’d take a clean kitchen over flowers any day when you’d prefer a little romance? That right there is a basic example of different love languages.

We all express and receive love differently; those differences could be why feelings and good intentions sometimes get lost in translation.

For example, you spend weeks trying to find a partner the most amazing gift ever, but come their birthday, they respond with, “I would’ve been happy just ordering in and then snuggling up on the couch together.”

It’s not necessarily that they’re ungrateful or that you messed up. They communicate their love differently — or have a different love language.

Recognizing how you and a partner like to receive and express love could lead to more thoughtful connections and a healthy relationship — not to mention less explosive birthdays and Valentines.

What are the different types of love languages?

There are five love languages, first introduced in 1992 by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman in his book “The 5 love languages.”

The five love languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Physical touch
  4. Acts of service
  5. Receiving gifts

Love languages don’t just apply to romantic relationships. They can be helpful in your platonic relationships, too.

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Words of affirmation as a love language

The first love language is words of affirmation, and it’s all about expressing affection and appreciation through words, be it spoken, written, in texts, or all of the above.

This may be one of your love languages if you thrive on:

The key to using words of affirmation is to be your authentic self and express them often. If you have trouble expressing yourself out loud, write a note or send a text. What matters is that you acknowledge them through words.

For a partner, it could mean telling them you love them more often or checking in throughout the day to tell them you’re thinking of them. For a friend, words of affirmation could mean a text to say “You’ll be great!” before a job interview or complimenting them on their outfit.

Here are some examples of words of affirmation you can use in romantic or platonic relationships:

Quality time as a love language

Quality time is the second love language, and it’s precisely what you think: appreciating spending quality time together.

A person whose love language is quality time may feel most loved and appreciated when people they care about make time to be together and give their undivided attention.

Quality time may be one of your love languages if:

Quality time looks different to everyone. Some people value a few minutes of dedicated time to sit and relax together at the end of the day. For others, quality time means setting aside time to enjoy activities together.

No matter what you’re doing, quality time requires being completely present and free of distractions.

Here are some examples of expressing your love through quality time:

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Physical touch as a love language

Physical touch is the third love language. Let’s be clear that this is appropriate, consensual physical touch, which looks different depending on the situation and your relationship with the person.

Expressing and receiving love through physical contact is important for people whose love language is physical touch. Touch is the way they connect and feel connected with others.

Physical contact might be your love language if:

How you can and should touch others comes down to your relationship. Expressing affection through physical touch can happen through small gestures like a hug or snuggling. If appropriate, it can also involve more intimate contact like kissing and sexual activities.

Here are some examples of expressing love through physical touch:

Again, consent is a must. Only touch someone or use these examples if they convey they’re wanted and welcome.

Acts of service as a love language

Acts of service is the fourth love language, which will resonate if you believe with your heart that actions always speak louder than words.

By actions, this means doing selfless, thoughtful things for the other person. Remember that these don’t need to be romantic; friends and family relationships can benefit from these acts, too.

These are some signs that acts of service may be your love language:

Acts of service aren’t about grand gestures but rather thoughtful gestures that serve them, like pouring them a coffee in the morning or running an errand for your busy friend or loved one.

Here are examples of ways you can use acts of service to love others:

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Receiving gifts as a love language

Receiving gifts is the final love language. It needs to be said that this love language is not reserved for the greedy or so-called “gold diggers.”

For someone whose love language is gifts, it goes way beyond just wanting stuff. For this person, it’s all about the meaning behind the gift and the thought that went into it. No diamonds or luxury cars are required.

Signs that receiving gifts is your love language:

Showing love through gifts isn’t about extravagance. A small souvenir will be just as appreciated because, big or small, a gift is a tangible reminder that they were thought of and are loved.

Here are some ways to show love to someone whose love language is receiving gifts:

Love language criticisms to consider

The five love languages provide a great framework for understanding your relationship(s) and each other, but they don’t necessarily represent exactly how everyone wants to give and show love.

Chances are that you resonate strongly with more than one of the love languages, and your partner(s) and other loved ones do, too.

Gender and cultural norms have also shifted quite a bit since the love languages were first introduced, and how we express love and want to be loved has shifted along.

While we all have our own ways of expressing love, they don’t necessarily fit neatly into one of the five presets laid out in a time when women were historically more likely to serve, and men were better equipped — financially speaking — to give gifts.

If you’re looking for better understanding and communication in a relationship, the original love languages can be a good start, but there are other tools you can use.

A survey by Truity, a company offering personality tests, recently shared their finding of seven love styles based on a survey of over 500,000 people. Consider it an updated framework of the original love languages, plus two extras. You can fill out their online quiz to figure out your styles.

There’s also the routes of safety model created by Jake Ernst, MSW, RSW, a Toronto-based psychotherapist, that’s, in his words, “trauma-informed” love languages.

Connecting with a relationship counselor is another way to go. You might find it helpful to look into online counseling or in-person therapy.

Suggested read: 5 stages of grief after facing a loss


Everyone has a different way of communicating their love. While you shouldn’t take it as gospel, the love languages could be a helpful starting point for understanding each other better.


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