Have you ever felt like you and your partner don’t express love in the same way? Would you prefer if your partner paid you more compliments or brought you flowers instead of doing the dishes – or vice versa? If so, you and your partner may have different love languages.

How do I know? Because my wife and I speak very different languages. It starts as soon as one of us gets home. I want to talk and my spouse wants a hug. I remember when we were first dating and I found myself confused about whether this girl really liked me or not. We spent a lot of time talking, but I didn’t get any compliments or affirmation. If you haven’t guessed yet, my love language is words of affirmation. My wife’s love language is physical touch.

I want to be clear about these languages. It’s not exactly simple. There are dialects. My particular type of word dialect is that I like to be told why I am loved or how I did a good job. Some folks like to hear that they are special and others need to be told they are loved. In this blog, I give a very brief overview or summary of the love languages. Knowing these are a game changer for your relationship!

The term “love language” was first coined by Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages. In the book, Dr. Chapman describes how he realized that the clients in his marriage counseling practice were often at odds in their relationships not because they didn’t love each other or weren’t trying, but because they expressed and experienced love for each other differently. It was as if they were speaking different languages.

Working with couples, I encourage them to discuss their own “love languages.” In fact, I speak from personal experience – I may have left my wife when we were first dating if we didn’t have this important conversation. I told her that I didn’t think she really liked me because she didn’t give me any compliments or “words of affirmation.” She said she didn’t really need that kind of thing and it didn’t occur to her. We were in the honeymoon stage so communication was easier at that point, and because she wanted to please me, she started offering compliments.

So what are the five love languages?

Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation acknowledge effort, deeds, and accomplishments. Examples of this range from a recognition of effort, such as, “I really appreciate all your help with the clean-up” to “I’m proud you handled that situation” to words of praise like, “You look great tonight!” or “I love how that shirt brings out your eyes.” For those who respond to this love language, receiving verbal validation can be heartening.

Quality Time

Quality time is about enjoying uninterrupted time with each other. This might look like planning a date night and leaving phones turned off, or planning an activity together, such as bike riding, taking a pottery class, or working in the garden together. For those with the Quality Time love language, such occasions are invigorating.


Does your partner light up when you bring them home their favorite treat or fresh flowers? If so, their love language might be receiving gifts. Far from being materialistic, those who respond to gifts are delighted at the thought that their loved one is thinking of them and extending the effort to acquire something tangible. Beyond just thoughtful gifts during the holidays and birthdays, surprise flowers or small tokens of affection go a long way in pleasing those whose love language is gifts.

Acts of Service

Folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, or cleaning the bathroom don’t really sound like romantic acts – but for those who appreciate acts of service, these practical ways of giving help are delightful for them. For these people, helpful acts go beyond a clean bathroom – they demonstrate collaboration and respect for time. If your partner loves acts of service, try asking them about their to-do list – you might be surprised at their joy!

Physical Affection

Some people feel most loved by the physical touch of touching. Beyond sexual activity (though this is included!), touch can also mean holding hands, a hug or kiss, or leaning on each other while relaxing on the couch. For people who take physical touch as a love language, the skin-to-skin connection is like verbally saying, “I love you.” If this is your partner’s favorite, try lingering on a goodnight kiss, or give them a long hug in the morning.

Reading this, you might be thinking, “What is my partner’s love language? What is my love language?” Once you’ve answered these important questions, you are taking the first step towards you and your partner communicating about your individual needs – and increasing the connection between the two of you!

Discover your partner’s love language and work towards the relationship you deserve. Schedule a session and learn one thing you can do right away.

Get professional advice from a skilled couples therapist and learn healthy communication skills for your relationship with an Emergent Relationship Center licensed therapist.