What Are the 5 love languages (By Gary Chapman)? How Can You Use Them to Improve Your Relationship and Avoid Misunderstandings?

Updated September 14, 2023  

Jane had really thought it through.

The advent calendar she had given Sam was filled with all the little snacks he liked.

The only thing that came from him:

A short thank you.

She had imagined it differently.

A little more gratitude for all her work would have been nice.

What Jane doesn't know:

Sam doesn't care about gifts.

Even when she hits the nail on the head with her gift, he cares very little.

And Sam doesn't know that Jane expresses her love mainly through gifts.

You guessed it:

Gift Giving is one of the 5 languages of love.

Misunderstandings, anger, and miscommunication will quickly ensue if you don't recognize your partner's love language

That's why I'll show you exactly what the 5 Love Languages are and how you can use them to your advantage.

What Is a Love Language?

Therapist Gary Chapman popularized the five love languages.

His model of the 5 Love Languages has long been used by couples therapists and relationship coaches to improve relationships.

But what is a love language?

Basically, it's two things:

  1. How we express love
  2. and how we want to experience love and appreciation.

The second one especially is very important in a relationship.

Gary Chapman compares this with what you fill in the tank of a car:

Depending on what you put in the tank, it will drive, stall, or stop because the engine breaks down.

Maybe it's a little confusing right now.

But it will become clearer when you read on.

The 5 Love Languages According to Gary Chapman

  • Receiving/Giving Gifts
  • Physical Touch
  • Quality Time
  • Acts Of Service
  • Words Of Affirmation

1. Receiving/Giving Gifts

  1. Do you particularly enjoy giving gifts to your partner?
  2. Do you often give them little gifts?
  3. Do you have the feeling that you can express your love particularly well this way?

Then "gift giving" is your love language.


We are all excited when we receive gifts.

And rejoice with others when we come up with something brilliant for them.

But it's even more important for those who have "gift giving" as their main love language.

Because for them, a gift says more than, for example, a hug or an "I love you."

Problems of Love Language "Gift Giving"

Gift giving is in itself something very nice.

Especially if you are very good at guessing what your partner is particularly happy about at the moment.

You are both equally happy when giving the gift.


Please don't be disappointed if your partner only gives you something for your birthday or for Christmas.

If at all.

And even then, the gift may not even be very thoughtful - like your gifts.


He probably expresses his love through another language.

However, you can, of course, point out to him in a relaxed moment that you feel especially loved and seen when you get a thoughtful gift now and then.

2. Physical Touch

  1. Do you love hugging, kissing or holding hands with your partner while you go for a walk?
  2. Does it trigger strong feelings in you when you touch your partner (and when he touches you)?

Attention, communication, and appreciation are also important to you.

But only when your partner consciously touches & embraces you, you experience very deep feelings of connection.

Problems of Love Language "Physical Touch"

The beginning of a relationship inevitably involves a lot of touching and physical intimacy.

This decreases over time the longer you are together—to then settle into a lesser degree.

This is absolutely normal.

However, many physical touchers make the mistake of equating the decrease in tenderness with less love.

This is total nonsense.

At the beginning of a relationship, we are flooded with hormones that constantly force us to want to touch our partner.

This hormone tsunami is extremely stressful for our bodies and is replaced with more long-term bonding hormones over time.

How to counteract your own impulse:

Don't wait to be hugged by your partner.

Your partner may not express love primarily through touch.


Keep making the first move, and don't feel rejected if your partner can't automatically shift into cuddle gear as you can.

3. Quality Time

  1. Is there nothing more important to you than spending time with your partner?
  2. He gives you his undivided attention - without a cell phone, TV, or other distractions.

You feel loved most when your partner consciously spends time with you.

Problems of Love Language "Quality Time"

At the start of any relationship, both partners can’t wait to spend “fruitful and attentive time” with each other.

The need to spend time with each other decreases as the relationship matures.

Most relationships follow this trend.

It’s normal.

Problems arise when the partner whose love language is “quality time” begins to feel that less time spent together means the love is diminishing.

This is far from the truth!

To ensure that you receive love how you prefer:

Discuss your concerns with your partner.

And when both of you have an understanding of what you like, organize special occasions for you to spend time together.

Also, consider your partner’s love language, so it doesn’t feel one-sided.

This is especially true if their love language differs from yours.

It usually does!

4. Acts of Service

  1. Do you feel a heightened sense of love and affection for your partner when they randomly help you complete a project you have been working on?
  2.  Do you feel especially loved when your partner does little things like open the door for you or clean your shoes?
  3. Are you especially intrigued by your partner when they go out of their way to pick out a guilty pleasure snack for you when they know you have been busy?

You feel a strong attachment to subtle and thoughtful acts of service..

It makes you feel loved and remembered.

If an act is especially unexpected but needed, your heart swells with affection for your partner.

Problems of Love Language "Acts of Service"

As a new couple, both of you are willing to go the extra mile to show you both care about and value one another.

It is this dedication to helping one another that strengthens the affection that you have. 

At its core, every act of service is a way of saying to your partner, “I will be here, no matter what.”

The need to show that you care diminishes over time.

However, if your partner’s love language is “acts of service,” they might begin to feel you no longer pay attention to them and their needs.

What to do to remind them that you care:

Start by showing gratitude for their acts of service to you.

Find something that you can do that is important or so mundane they don’t expect you to notice that they like it, and do it for them.

If you are the one with the love language:

Communicate with your partner about your worries and what you appreciate.

The goal is not to make a long list of things you want your partner to start doing for you.

It's a relationship, not a service company.

Instead, tell your partner about the little things that matter.

Like how you like to bring them coffee even though it's not on your way to the office.

Pay attention:

Your partner might despise attention, so you should be wary of doing things that make them uncomfortable.

5. Words of Affirmation

  1. Do you just love it when you verbally affirm how much you love them?
  2. Are you a sucker for being told how lucky your partner is to have you?
  3. Does your partner look at you with dreamy eyes when you tell them how proud of them you are?

Compliments, praise, verbal appreciation, expressed understanding and approval.

If you express your affection a lot and explicitly in a relationship, use words to express your love.

Typical words of appreciation:

  • "It's good to have you!"
  • "Thank you for understanding me!"
  • "You are my dream girl!"

Problems of Love Language "Words of Affirmation"

Most couples explicitly express their love and appreciation for each other at the beginning of their relationship.

These affirmations help strengthen your relationship and inform them that you have chosen to love them the way they are.

 And vice versa.

The need for explicit love declaration changes over time:

 Perhaps, your partner no longer feels the need to affirm their affection for you.

But this doesn’t mean that your partner loves you less:

Your partner probably doesn’t realize that “words of affirmation” is how you like to be loved.

So, show them.

Don’t wait to be told how well you are doing. 

Or how much you are loved.

Tell your partner how much you love them as often as you feel the need to.

Have a conversation about how you like to be loved. 

Remind them that you know they love and appreciate you.

But you would love to hear it from time to time.

What Is My Primary Love Language? The Easiest Way to Identify Your Love Language

Figuring out your primary love language takes a bit of careful observation and patience.

Of course, there are tests:

You can easily take a love language test or online quiz to determine yours.

But an online test can only tell you so much.

It only provides a general overview and an approximate guess.

You can have more than one love language:

  • You may have one love language for how you like to feel loved.
  • And have a different love language for how you show love.

For instance:

Sharon, my neighbor, likes to give the most exquisite gifts to her husband. But she prefers to receive “words of affirmation” from her husband to feel loved.

Her husband’s way of showing love is “acts of service”.

Always pay attention to:

  • How you want to receive love and how the people around you want to receive love.
  • How you like to show love and how the people around you like to show love.

 Figure out what makes you feel the most loved by your partner and get them to do more of it.

Conversely, figure out what makes your partner feel the most loved by observing and asking them, and do more of that.

To put it simply:

Communicating with your partner is the best way to identify your love language.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to take the test too!

Love Languages in Everyday Life

We usually love more than just our partners.

Therefore, it makes sense that love languages apply to other relationships in our everyday lives:

Between parents and children.

Among coworkers.

And, among friends.

For example:

One of your children might respond better to gifts, while the other may prefer “physical touch” or “words of affirmation.”

Pay close attention to how the people around you like to receive love, and they will love you more for it.

Your love language changes based on your circumstance:

While your usual love language might be “words of affirmation,” a rough day at the office might leave you needing a hug badly rather than encouraging words.

One thing to always keep in mind is, when in doubt:

Always ask a person what they need from you.

Do they need:

More time with you?

Words of encouragement and love?


Or physical intimacy?

Regardless of whom it is you are trying to show love to:

Communication is a critical aspect of any love language.

Love Language Statistics

This is pretty interesting:

YouGov surveyed 1,000 Americans about how they show and want to receive love.

Only 30% have ever heard about the concept of love languages, while women are more likely to be familiar with them.

After explaining the love languages to them, they were asked to rank the languages how they prefer to receive love.

What is the most common love language?

  1. The most common love language is Quality Time (38%).
  2. Followed by Physical Touch (24%)
  3. Words of Affirmation (19%)
  4. Acts of Service (13%)
  5. Gift Giving (7%)

Older Men Prefer to Have a Physical Connection with Their Partners

The survey showed that men 45 and over are more likely than women to pick physical touch as their preferred way to receive love.

37% of men aged 45 and over chose “physical touch” as their preferred way of receiving love.

The statistic above indicates that older men prefer to feel physical intimacy in a relationship than any other form of love.

And it’s not just sexual.

It’s everything from a peck on the forehead to a warm hug, cuddle, or holding of hands.

Women Above the Age of 45 Prefer “Words of Affirmation”

A very interesting statistic:

“Words of affirmation” was chosen by women aged 45 and older as their preferred love language (24%).

The statistic shows that women aged 45 and older care more about their partner verbally affirming their love for them. 

Most Couples Don’t Share the Same Love Language as Their Partner  But Those Who Choose Quality Time Align the Most

Many couples reported having a different love language than their partner.

However, 43% who chose quality time as their preferred love language aligned the most with their partners.

One lesson to take away:

Regardless of your love language, it is hard to go wrong with spending quality time with your partner. 

Fewer Women Than Men Say Their Partner Expresses Love the Way They Prefer

One statistic showed that:

Women are less likely than men to say that their partner does a good job at expressing love the way they prefer to receive it.

While men think their partners do an excellent job at giving love (34%).

Only some women think the same (28%)..

More Men Admit to Doing a Less-Than-Average Job at Expressing Love the Way Their Partner Prefers to Receive It

Men say they do a less-than-average job at giving love(31%)..

And some women think they do a less-than-average job of giving love (25%)..

The stat above indicates that both men and women agree that more men than women need to improve how well they express love the way their partners prefer to receive it.

Source: YouGov

How Do Love Languages Benefit Relationships?

Imagine being able to meet your partner’s needs before they express them.

Understanding that your partner needs a hug more than words of affirmation goes a long way in growing your relationship on a deeper level.

Love languages benefit your relationship in several ways:

Love Languages Create Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person's feelings as the person is experiencing them from their point of reference.

Love languages help you develop empathy in a relationship:

In your quest to understand your partner’s love language and yours:

Listen regularly to each other’s thoughts and feelings.

This is a fantastic way to connect with your partner on a deeper level. 

You see the world from each other’s point of view while loving each other for it.

Love Languages Promote Selflessness

When you discover each other’s love languages, the next step is:

Act toward pleasing each other in the ways that matter.

The world becomes smaller, and you see each other more clearly.

To love fully and deeply is to be selfless.

Sadhu Vaswani once said:

“True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.”

It is when you know your partner's love language and are willing to go the extra mile so they feel the most loved.

You become selfless.

Love Languages Help Maintain Intimacy

Intimacy is the basis for long-lasting relationships.

Intimacy is sexual, physical, emotional, and so many other things.

But ultimately:

Intimacy means you are comfortable with each other in the most mundane ways possible.

Understanding each other’s love language helps maintain intimacy and grow it beyond bounds.

Love Languages Help You Share Love in Meaningful Ways

By showing love and affection in a way that is meaningful to your partner, you create a deeper emotional connection and a stronger bond that brings joy and happiness to both of you.

Love Languages Aid Personal Growth

I am unsure where I have heard this before:

But focusing on somebody else except yourself is when you experience the most personal growth.

The point is:

When you understand your partner's love language:

You begin to think outside of yourself and focus more on your partner.

This leads to your personal growth in many different ways, because this forces you to think of yourself from a different perspective.

The best part is when you grow, your partner grows with you, at least emotionally.

Criticisms of the Love Language Theory

The love language theory is amazing and it helps your relationship in many ways.

Many couples read about the five love languages by Gary Chapman and assume that once they practice everything taught in the book, their relationship becomes perfect.

But just like most things in life:

The love language theory has its limitations:

The Knowledge of Love Language Can Be Misused

It’s incredible when couples learn their partner's love language.

It opens up new ways for you to express love and intimacy.

Many couples miss the point of understanding their partner's love language:

They begin to keep score of how well they satisfy their partner compared to how little their partner is doing the same.

And use it to validate their sense of superiority in the relationship.

Understand this:

Never expect to receive as much as you give. 

Or that you should give as much as you receive.


Understand your partner and yourself in all the ways that you like to show and receive love. 

Then talk with each other about the best ways to satisfy one another.

If you feel your partner is not doing enough, point it out.

But it should never be because you are doing so much more.

Because, in that case, you are simply keeping score.

The Love Language Theory Won’t Fix Every Relationship Problem

Look, I have to be frank with you.

Some relationship problems are beyond what understanding your partner's love language can fix.

Sometimes, the problem is the only reason the nearest couples therapist has not retired. 

You might need to see that therapist.

The love language theory was a concept developed to help couples understand each other better and experience a more fulfilling relationship.

However, if the problem in a relationship is infidelity or something totally outside the scope of the person’s love language:

You may need to see a marriage counselor.

Or have a sincere conversation about the status of your relationship.

Think of the love language theory like this:

The theory is like oil for the engine (your relationship).

If the engine has other problems that have nothing to do with proper lubrication, such as:

  • Bad gears (misunderstanding and miscommunication)
  •  Worn tires (lack of direction)
  • Or a bad radiator (bad temper)

Then, you need to repair the other parts of your relationship before applying the love language theory.

You Can Become Pressured to Do Too Much for Your Partner

Overachievers might use the knowledge of the love languages differently.

You might view it as a way to do everything just right, instead of looking at the love language theory as a way to understand your partner better.

The pressure of always loving your partner how they prefer to be loved becomes overwhelming if you are someone like this.

 Avoid putting too much pressure on your partner to always express love in your love language.

This will turn it into a chore and less of a better way to communicate and love one another.

A big problem among couples:

Most recipients of a love language don’t recognize that their partner is trying to love them using their love language.

Therefore, creating a sense of misunderstanding and lack of appreciation.

Always recognize your partner's efforts, even when they don’t meet your expectations.

Always communicate how they should love you better in your language without putting them down.

It was Developed Using Hetoronormative Couples as the Basis but Applies to All Kinds of Couples

This is perhaps not a limitation but a side note.

The language used throughout the Love Language book by Gary Chapman refers to heteronormative couples.

Heteronormal couples are partners together in the traditional sense of male and female, where both male and female partners are straight.

 At least, that’s one way to explain it.

However, it applies to all kinds of couples:

You rarely go wrong with understanding your partner’s love language, regardless of the kind of relationship you have.

Don’t fret.

The theory works regardless of your sexual orientation or relationship type.

Love Languages Get Confused for a Quick Fix

The love language theory is not a quick fix to relationship problems.

It is a way of life that teaches you how to communicate in a way your partner understands.

Everyone loves the idea of a quick fix.

However, human behavior which becomes even more complex in a romantic relationship does not appeal to quick fixes.

You need an entire toolkit to make a relationship work.

You need:

  • Communication.
  • Understanding.
  • Patience.
  • Love languages.
  • Compatibility.
  • Love.
  • Honesty.
  • And so much more.

Ultimately, understanding and using love languages does wonders for your relationship.

But it will not fix everything else that is already broken.

Is My Love Language What I Give or Receive?


The love language you speak is how you express your love.

And then there's how you want to be loved.

Often they are the same, but not always.

For example:

I express my love with Acts of Service (I do a lot of little things for my wife. I keep the apartment clean, wash the dishes, do the laundry, etc.).

But I feel most loved when I spend quality time with her (no cell phone, no distractions).

Most importantly:

  1. Find out which love language your partner speaks that expresses his love and appreciation for his actions.
  2. Find out what love language your partner needs to feel loved so that you can give him more of it.

Can a Relationship Work If You Have Different Love Languages?


It's not about the difference.

But you recognize your partner's love language and learn to speak it.

Of course, it's an advantage if you both speak the same love language.

For example:

If both of you have Physical touch as your love language, you will do everything you can to touch, kiss, hug, etc.

This simply means it's less work for you.

But that's rare, and it's more likely that you have different love languages.

So please don't assume that you both have the same.

If you don't recognize it, problems can arise.

For example:

My main love language is Acts of Service.

My wife's is Physical Touch.

Which means:

I express my love mainly by cleaning our house, ensuring our kitchen is always neat, and nothing is lying around.

If I were to judge my wife's love by how many little things she does for me, a big problem would arise (because, unlike me, she is quite messy).

But if I recognize that my wife "speaks" Physical Touch, I look at what she does with different eyes.

At the same time, I've got an advantage:

If I recognize the love language of my partner, I can appreciate their gestures.


To strengthen our connection, I can speak her love language with her.

For example:

Even if I'm not the physical affection type, I can best show my wife that I love her by kissing, touching, and hugging her more often.

Because that is what really makes her feel loved.

What Love Languages Go Best Together?

There is no definitive answer to the question, “What love languages go best together.”

Humans are complex creatures, and that complexity makes us very difficult to predict.

However, a few studies show:

“Quality time” and “physical touch” are two love languages that work well together.

They are extremely compatible because:.

One person craves the touch of their partner.

And the other craves quality time together.

All needs are duly met.

It is hard to argue that “receiving gifts and “acts of service” are two love languages that fit like a glove.

These love languages require a partner to think deeply about what their significant other would like.

It is what I like to call selfless love.

While the love languages described above may work well together, this should in no way limit who you choose to love.

Any love language can work together.

The amount of work required to love each other deeply might differ.

But in the end, love is love.

What Love Language Do Guys Like?

There is no one love language for guys or men.

But research shows that men aged 45 years and over are more likely than women to name physical touch as their top love language.

  • I’ve tried so many times to show my husband of 25years what do I like and not and to teach him to compromise but he’ll day wife are not supposed to tell husband what and how to do things, I feel that I’m tired now and want to see myself out , because he had an affair that I think he did everything that other lady liked

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    About the author 


    Sebastian loves analyzing statistics about anything that has to do with the dynamics in a love relationship. He enjoys researching why people behave the way they do (and drinks horrendous amounts of coffee when he's in the zone).

    He uses his knowledge to help couples in troubled relationships reconnect with their partners and create a perfectly imperfect relationship.

    Dowload my free 14 mistakes ebook 

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