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Understanding the 5 love languages

Love is an important part of life, and forms the cornerstone of lasting and meaningful relationships. While love is universally experienced by humans across the globe, each of us expresses and receives it in our own unique way! 


These different ways of expressing affection are commonly known as love languages. First proposed by Gary Chapman, his theory helps us understand how we can better love others in a way that speaks to them best, as well as how we best receive love.


Loving a partner is his or her love language has a greater positive impact on the quality of the relationship as it enhances the connection experienced (Mostova et al., 2022). Not only does this apply for romantic relationships, it can guide our friendships and familial relationships too!

What are the five love languages?


The five love languages are as follows: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, and quality time. Let’s explore each of them!


Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation are verbal ways of communicating appreciation (Chapman, 2015). This can come in the form of spoken words, or an encouraging text message. We can verbally express gratitude to our partners for helping us with something, or send them an uplifting quote when they face challenges. 


Acts of Service

Acts of service can involve lending your partner/friend/family member a helping hand, such as helping them with their chores. An extra hand with getting the groceries or clearing the dishes can be a demonstration of thoughtfulness and that you were looking out for your partner/friend/family member.


Receiving gifts

It is often mistaken that giving gifts involves splurging and that the monetary value of the gift represents the sentimental value of the gift. Instead, partners/friends/family members who prefer this love language value the effort, thought, and sentiments behind the gift (Chapman, 2015). They will enjoy giving and receiving gifts that are heartfelt.


Physical touch

Physical touch includes holding hands, massaging, kissing, sex, or any other actions that physically communicate love. Learning the types of physical touch your partner/friends/family members are comfortable with and enjoy can communicate affection for them (Chapman, 2015). 


Quality time

Quality time includes giving your partner/friends/family members “undivided attention” (Chapman, 2015), which means focusing your attention on them during the activity. Quality time can also include quality communication that can be expressed through active listening and allowing your partner/friend/family member to express what they want without interruption. According to Hughes and Camden (2020), this is the top preferred love language.

Applying this into daily life


Having learnt about the five love languages, let’s talk about how we can use this knowledge in our real-life relationships!


First, it is critical to understand our partners’/friends’/family members’ love language. We can do this by researching what it entails (especially if it differs from our own), but beyond that, it is equally important to discuss it with them. Even within the five broad categories, individuals still experience and desire love in vastly different ways. 


Second, let’s not be afraid to express how we want to be loved. That way, we can ensure that others know how to best fulfil our needs.


Remember, communication is key! By learning to communicate better, we will be better able to manage differences and conflicts. 


If this has been helpful, do check out other articles on our Total Wellness Initiative Singapore website for more tips and information!


Chapman, G. (1992). The five love languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate. Northfield.

Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Northfield.

Hughes, J. L., & Camden, A. A. (2020). Using Chapman’s five love languages theory to predict love and relationship satisfaction. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 25(3), 234–244.

Mostova, O., Stolarski, M., & Matthews, G. (2022). I love the way you love me: Responding to partner’s love language preferences boosts satisfaction in romantic heterosexual couples. PLOS ONE, 17(6), e0269429.

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