speak love

The Five Love Languages: What Do You Speak?

Lisa McKay Activities, Communication & Conflict 4 Comments



In his bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, renowned marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman argued that people tend to have one or two primary love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. Chapman argues that while all of these love languages are important to some degree, people “speak” and understand love best through their primary love language(s).


What are the five love languages?

What do these five love languages actually look like in action? Here are a few more details.

1. Words of Affirmation

Actions, Chapman claims, don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, compliments and other words of love, respect, and affirmation mean a great deal to you. Hearing “I love you” is important to you. Hearing why you are loved is also very important. Harsh words and insults can wound you deeply and you do not forget them easily.

2. Quality Time

If you highly value quality time, nothing says, “I love you” like other people spending time with you and giving you their complete attention. It’s very important to you that other people are there for you. It’s even better if they can put other tasks on hold and really focus on you. When others are distracted, postpone dates, or don’t listen well to you, you can feel especially hurt.

3. Gifts

If this is one of your primary love languages you thrive on receiving gifts and other physical tokens of love. When others give you gifts or surprise you with thoughtful gestures, those things help you feel understood and cherished. To you, those gifts or gestures are tangible expressions of effort and care. When people miss your birthday and other important anniversaries (or when they give you thoughtless or inconsiderate gifts) it can hurt you deeply.

4. Acts of Service

If you speak this language you feel most loved when others do practical things to help or serve you – to ease the burden of your responsibilities. Taking out the trash, doing the grocery shopping, watching the kids, making dinner, paying bills… there are many, many ways to show love to someone who values acts of service. When others appear lazy, don’t follow through on their commitments, or make more work for you, you feel disregarded and unloved.

5. Physical Touch

If this is one of your primary love languages you are probably a “touchy” person. You love to give and receive hugs, pats on the back, massages, and other types of thoughtful and appropriate touches. These touches speak to you of connection, concern, understanding, and caring. When those you love don’t connect with you in this way, you can feel distant, disconnected, and unloved.

speak loveWhat is your primary love language?

After reading the list above, you may already be able to identify your primary love language (or your top two). Sometimes, however, a questionnaire can be helpful to confirm your instincts or suggest an option you hadn’t considered. Even if you think you already know your primary love language, try this:

  1. Go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
  2. When it asks whether you are married or single, click single. (Click single even if you’re married. To be honest, I don’t think either of their questionnaires are fabulous. However, I think their questionnaire for singles is better-designed and worded than their questionnaire for those who are married.)
  3. Fill out the 30-item questionnaire.

Things to think about

Now, think about the following questions. Even better, discuss them with your partner or close friends:

  1. What is your primary love language?
  2. Do you have a strong love-language preference (i.e., is it clear that you have one preferred love language, or do you score almost equally across two or more love languages)?
  3. If you took the love languages questionnaire, do you agree with the results?
  4. When are some times when you have felt well-loved by your partner or others (in person and at a distance)?
  5. What is your partner’s primary love language(s)?
  6. If you and your partner have different love languages, what sorts of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or conflict might arise from these different preferences?
  7. List five ways you could show your partner you care for them by speaking a love language that’s important to them.
  8. When you’re in a long distance relationship, what are some ways you try to express love across the miles?

share with usHow did you answer some of the questions above?

And, don’t forget to read post 2 in this series on speaking love languages in long distance relationships.

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Comments 4

  1. I just started my long distance relationship with my boyfriend of 4 years. I am extremely worried because my top two love languages are touch and quality time. Our long distance relationship will be for 2 years while he is working toward a medical degree (PA) and I stay behind for a good career opportunity. We are only 6 driving hours apart and plan to never go more than 6 weeks apart. I’m nervous my needs won’t be met. Any suggestions?

  2. My boyfriend and I have had a long distance friendship for 2 years, a long distance courtship for 1-and-a-half, and finally a long distance relationship for 1-and-some-months years. I give love through time and words (time being a priority), he gives them through words and service. I receive love through words and time (words being the primary one this time) and he receives love through words and touch.

    I think things worked well for us because words are part of both our giving and receiving love languages. Things get hard though when the other receiving love language is neglected. For example, I need to have quality time but work and all his other activities often make him busy – and his other language of giving is service after all, not time. This becomes a problem at times. His other receiving language, meanwhile, is touch. I can’t give him hugs through email! Again, another challenge.

    Thank you for this post. I’ll be pondering on the other items in the “Things to think about”.


    1. Post

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I love seeing how this is working out (or NOT working out so easily) in action in others relationships. These stories give us all extra food for thought.

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