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What is the strongest love language?

What Are The Five Love Languages?


What makes you feel most loved? Is it a text from a friend who knew you had a job interview today? A hug that’s a little longer than usual? Quality, unplanned one-on-one time? I, for one, love it when my partner picks me up a little treat from the store, even if I said I didn’t want anything.

When two people constantly express their love for each other in a way the other person can’t understand, all that love can get lost in translation. It’s like speaking a language their partner doesn’t really know. It doesn’t matter how many dishes you wash for your partner when all they want is a kiss.

“It doesn’t matter how many dishes you wash for your partner when all they want is a kiss.”

Or, maybe you buy your partner an expensive gift that doesn’t make them as happy as you hoped because they want to take the day off together and do something fun. Everyone expresses love differently, and everyone receives it differently, too.

The five love languages categorize the ways we express and receive love into five neat sections. They’ve been used by relationship counselors for over three decades and can help couples learn more about one another and strengthen their relationships.

They don’t just apply to romantic relationships, either—everyone expresses love, care, respect, and affection differently to everyone in their life. Understanding your own love language and the languages of those around you can help strengthen your friendships, work relationships, and family bonds, too.

While the five love languages provide a useful framework, they’ve been expanded upon by relationship experts over the years. Sex and relationship coach and author Anne Hodder-Shipp CSE detailed 18 love languages in their 2021 book, Speaking from the Heart: 18 Languages for Modern Love.

They emphasize the nuanced nature of the concept of love languages, explaining that no one “is” one of the love languages. “They’re not an identity or a category of person,” Hodder-Shipp says. “They’re simply a helpful theory meant to offer a tangible tool for exploring our relationship to love.”

They liken modern love languages to world languages—having different love languages might look like speaking “Mandarin to folks who only understand Spanish,” says Hodder-Shipp, “but blaming them for the miscommunication.”

The original five love languages include words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each of these languages, along with more modern interpretations of the love language concept.

Words of Affirmation

If you feel most loved when you hear the words “I love you” or other verbal encouragement, your love language might be words of affirmation—you like to hear nice things.

If you notice something on someone, like a new haircut, nail color, or pair of shoes, say something nice! When a Words of Affirmation Person doesn’t hear you say anything to them, they might assume you’re not thinking of them at all.

This is a great platonic way to express love, too: Most people love a simple compliment. If a partner, friend, or family member thrives on this kind of verbal affection, put in the effort to give them regular compliments, tell them you appreciate them, or thank them for something they did. Texts work great here if you’re not very verbally affectionate—checking in on them throughout the day can go far.

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Quality Time

Someone who receives affection most effectively through quality time appreciates one-on-one time with loved ones to feel a stronger connection. This can look like a planned date where you’re doing something fun together, just the two of you, or a simple chat over dinner at the end of the day. Undivided attention is the key here.

If someone you love most appreciates quality time, make time for them even if you think you’re too busy. When you’re spending time with them, avoid looking at your phone. If you have to bail on plans or you’re not available to do something they want to do with you, make sure to suggest a different time. These folks might feel brushed to the side if quality time with you is hard to plan.

Physical Touch

Some people are very touchy-feely, and others are the opposite. A physical touch person is the former, expressing love regularly with hugs and cuddles. In a romantic relationship, they might like holding hands and other forms of PDA and want regular displays of physical affection throughout the day. Sex is likely an important part of a relationship for them.

Physical touch can also be an important part of a family relationship between a parent and child or between siblings. Folks who like to experience affection through physical touch feel most loved when their partner or loved one gives them unprompted physical affection, like a hug, a kiss, or even something as simple as playing with their hair.

Acts of Service

Actions speak louder than words to you if you best experience love through acts of service. These can look like everyday chores—a common example is a married couple who do chores for each other without being asked, like dishes and laundry. But these aren’t the only acts of service.

Any sort of unprompted and unconditional favor is an act of service, like when you cook a meal for a family member who needs the help; you send a friend links that might help with a problem they’re having; you go and grab the car when it’s raining; or you clean up before you leave someone’s house. In a romantic partnership, these acts do often look like housework, but they could also be making a phone call that needs to be made or cooking a special dinner just because. Acts of service help to lighten someone’s load, even if only by a little.

Receiving Gifts

Receiving gifts might be important to someone not because they’re materialistic and want to acquire expensive things but because a gift is physical proof that you were thinking of them.

It’s not about the price of the gift here, but the thought that went into it. Maybe they grab you a treat from the store on the way home even if you didn’t say you wanted anything, or they might surprise you with a plant or flowers. If a friend or family member appreciates receiving gifts, you might print out a photo of a shared memory together.

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If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, try to put extra thought into birthday or holiday gifts—they’ll likely do the same for you, as gifts are a great opportunity to connect over shared interests or special events.

Modern Love Languages

Note that most of these love language tips apply to anyone, no matter their preferred love language. It’s always a good idea to stay off your phone when spending time with someone, fit your loved ones into your busy schedule, tell someone they mean a lot to you, or put extra thought into giving a meaningful gift.

“Keep in mind that the original five were developed with married heterosexual couples as the target audience.”

Keep in mind that the original five were developed with married heterosexual couples as the target audience. As gender norms have become less rigid, a husband doing the dishes for a night is less of an act of service and more simply being an equal participant in the household. (The five languages were in desperate need of an update!)

Last year Truity, a California-based personality test and research company, published research that said that there are seven updated languages for romantic couples: Activity, when you and your partner do something fun together; Appreciation, when you give your partner compliments or thanks; Emotional, when you support your partner through difficult emotions; Financial, when you’re generous with your resources; Intellectual, when you connect with your partner by discussing meaningful issues; Physical when you express your affection through touch; and Practical, when you lighten your partner’s load, via chores or otherwise. These seven languages are geared toward our more modern romantic partnerships that focus less on the division of labor and more on emotional support and showing up for your partner.

Hodder-Shipp’s 18 love languages are more specific and personalized than the original five and were designed to apply to all kinds of relationships, not just long-term heterosexual monogamy. Examples include Solidarity, Platonic Touch, Intentional Time, and Personal Growth.

Hodder-Shipp says that we don’t just fall into one of five categories. Instead, they use the concept of love languages as a jumping-off point to explore how people show and receive love differently and how learning about your partner’s preferred ways to express love is just one tool to deepen your connection.

“Experiencing and expressing love is deeply individual and personal, and like all feelings, love is fluid.”

Anne Hodder-Shipp CSE

“Expecting our partner to fulfill our need for love and affection according to strict ‘love language’ parameters doesn’t let our partners be themselves,” Hodder-Shipp says, “and express their love for us in all the ways that come naturally and bring them joy.”

“Experiencing and expressing love is deeply individual and personal, and like all feelings, love is fluid,” says Hodder-Shipp. Communicating your love language to your partner or a loved one is just one way to connect with those in your life and isn’t the be-all and end-all.

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Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!

What is the strongest love language?

Dr. Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman, Ph.D.—author, speaker, and counselor—has a passion for people, and for helping them form lasting relationships.

Chapman is a well-known marriage counselor and director of marriage seminars. The 5 Love Languages® is one of Chapman’s most popular titles, topping various bestseller charts for years, selling over twenty million copies and has been on the New York Times bestsellers list since 2007. Chapman has been directly involved in real-life family counseling since the beginning of his ministry years, and his nationally-syndicated radio programs air nationally on Moody Radio Network and over 400 affiliate stations.

It’s never too late to start loving better.

Dating, married, single, or simply looking for better ways to connect with others? There’s a book for you!

The 5 Love Languages®

The 5 Love Languages®

The 5 Love Languages® of Children

The 5 Love Languages® of Children

The 5 Love Languages® Singles Edition

The 5 Love Languages® Singles Edition

The 5 Love Languages® for Men

The 5 Love Languages® for Men

The 5 Love Languages® of Teenagers

The 5 Love Languages® of Teenagers

The 5 Love Languages® Military Edition

The 5 Love Languages® Military Edition

3 steps to strengthening your relationships

Step 1

Learn Your Love Language®

Get ready for an «aha» moment! Discovering your own primary love language will help you better understand yourself, as well as teach others how to love you best.

Step 2

Exchange Your Results

Relationships go two ways. Once you discover your love language, share it with your loved ones. Then, ask them to share their results with you so you can love them better.

Step 3

Strengthen Your Relationships

People grow closer when they choose to consistently speak each other’s love language. For the best understanding of the love languages and dialects, read The 5 Love Languages ® .

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«What Are The 5 Love Languages®?»

They love each other, right? Then why do they always feel like they’re not on the same page?

The most common issue in any relationship is the communication barrier. Everyone experiences love differently, and it’s easy to miss the mark when it comes to showing that you care.

In his early years as a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman noticed that over and over, couples voiced similar complaints regarding their marriage.

One spouse would say something like, «I feel like he doesn’t love me.»

And the other would protest, «I don’t know what else to do. I’m doing everything I should be doing.»

Recognizing this pattern and remembering the rocky start in his own marriage, Dr. Chapman pored three years of session notes.

He asked himself, «When someone’s saying, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,’ what did they want?»

Surprisingly, their answers fell into five different categories, revealing a unique approach for how to effectively love another person.

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The premise is simple: Different people, with different personalities, give and receive love in different ways. Dr. Chapman called these ways of expressing and receiving love «The 5 Love Languages®.» He even wrote a best-selling book about it.

This revolutionary concept has improved millions of relationships across the globe.

These Love Languages don’t only apply to couples, the concept holds true for friends, siblings, parents and their children, and relationships of every kind. Each individual has at least one primary love language that they prefer above the others and that is where it really starts to get interesting.

Want to intentionally strengthen and improve your relationships? You can start right now, by taking The 5 Love Languages® quiz to find out how you prefer to give and receive love.

3 Love Language Pairings That Work Well Together

Which love languages are most compatible?

It’s a human instinct to love and want to be loved in return. When we’re fully in tune with our partner’s emotional needs, and vice versa, we can feel solid in our romantic connection. According to matchmaker and dating coach Thalia Ouimet, if both partners in a relationship express their love with encouraging words or thoughtful gifts, for example, feeling loved and appreciated is simple. What happens, though, when the ways in which we show or receive affection differ from those of a partner? Sometimes, these differences can create conflict in a relationship dynamic, which is why understanding a person’s love language is key.

Created by author and minister Gary Chapman, the five love languages — words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, and physical touch — help us better understand how to love the people in our lives, especially our partners. Communication is the most crucial element in any relationship, and that’s still the case when it comes to love language compatibility. While it’s possible for you and your partner to have the same love language, it’s more likely to find someone with a love language that complements yours.

If you’re curious about whether you and your partner’s love languages work well together, keep reading to find out what means if you have different love languages and see some of the most complementary pairings.

Are You Most Compatible With People With Similar Love Languages?

When you and your partner both receive love via physical touch, for example, it’s easier to anticipate your partner’s needs since they’re similar to yours. Giving them a massage or holding hands while you’re out together might be a great way for both of you to feel connected and appreciated.

“The most compatible love languages are when they are identical,” Ouimet says. “Having the same love language as your partner will only make the relationship stronger.” However, she also explains that this is a rare occurrence. “Never assume that your partner has the same love language [as you]. In fact, the odds are that your partner won’t have the same love language, so it’s important to discuss how you show and receive love.”

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But having different love languages doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. “Most of the time our love language was taught to us from our childhood experiences,” Ouimet says. “How our parents showed their love towards us is how we know to give/receive love.” Since we all have different life experiences, learning to communicate, no matter the difference, is crucial to a healthy and loving relationship.

If Your Love Languages Are: Words Of Affirmation And Quality Time

Words of affirmation and quality time can be one of the more complementary pairings. When one partner feels most loved by spending intentional and intimate time with the other, there’s plenty of room left for in-depth conversations. This is an ideal time for each partner to exchange those words of affirmation so that both love languages are honored. According to Ouimet, this couple is compatible because each partner “will feel secure and appreciated for their efforts.”

She also advises those in this pairing “to have an open conversation about how they receive love differently, and to make an effort to love their partner the way they want to be loved.”

If Your Love Languages Are: Acts Of Service And Receiving Gifts

A partnership with these two love languages has the potential to thrive since both will feel appreciated by the exchange of gifts or a partner helping them. “This pair can work well together,” Ouimet says. “For example, if your partner noticed that you ran out of almond milk and your morning routine is to make your latte with almond milk, [if] your partner’s love language is acts of service, then running to the store and buying that item for you can also be classified as a surprise gift.”

Just as doing something nice for your partner can also involve gift-giving, buying your partner something functional can be seen as an act of service, too. Finding creative ways to honor each of these love languages can create a stronger bond and sense of appreciation between you and your partner.

If Your Love Languages Are: Physical Touch And Quality Time

For a lot of couples, this pairing creates a harmonious exchange of affection. Spending quality time with a partner can often lead to physical touch or physical intimacy, which fulfills both partners’ needs.

“This match could work well together if, [for example], you spend time with your partner watching a movie cuddled up on the couch … one partner gets to have the quality time they need and the other gets the physical touch cuddling while watching the movie,” Ouimet says.

If you and your partner are also sexually involved, spending time cuddling and having intentional conversations before or post-sex can be a great way to express both of these love languages. Taking advantage of the physical connection that intimacy provides can easily lead to emotional closeness when you’re both staying in the present moment.

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