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What are the Five Love Languages?

Shannon has written web content and general interest articles for various clients and websites for over a decade.


"Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life." ~ Leo Buscaglia

What Are the Five Love Languages?

The five languages are words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. It may depend on the type of relationship how each language is applied, but the languages are still the same. Though we all give and receive love in all languages, a person may not feel fully loved if others do not speak their primary love language. According to Chapman, the secret to love that lasts is keeping the "love tank" of those we love full. When this is reciprocal, love flourishes. Not doing so causes the tank to empty, and an empty tank can lead to total estrangement or the loss of close feelings. A full love tank makes it easier to overcome personal setbacks that have the power to hinder relationships.

Gary Chapman introduced the concept of the five love languages in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. As a marriage counselor, Chapman has been helping heal broken relationships for well over twenty years. He maintains that every individual has a preference for receiving love, called a primary love language and that these love language preferences are established early on in life. Each language speaks to the heart of an individual in ways the others do not. His concept holds true for every kind of relationship, not just marriage. Utilizing them can heal broken relationships and strengthen current ones.


Love is Learned

"Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, anthropologists and educators have suggested in countless studies and numerous research papers that love is a "learned response, a learned emotion". . .Most of us continue to behave as though love is not learned but lies dormant in each human being and simply awaits some mystical age of awareness to emerge in full bloom. Many wait for this age forever. We seem to refuse to face the obvious fact that most of us spend our lives trying to find love, trying to live in it and dying without ever truly discovering it."

~Leo Buscaglia

Why Are the Love Languages So Important?

Think about the people who have impacted your life in positive ways. Particular people will immediately come to mind before others - a parent, spouse, or special friends. Likewise, certain people will come to mind when thinking about specific situations - a teacher or some colleagues that stand out more than others. Chances are, those that made the biggest impact made you feel cared for and important, worth their time and effort. True to Maya Angelou’s quote, you remember the way people made you feel even if you forget some of the things they did for you. Though there may be countless other people that somehow left their mark, many of the people holding special places in your heart somehow touched your heart on a level that goes beyond the surface.

Love sends a powerful message. The presence of love or the lack of it can change the course of a life, or at the very least, the course of a relationship. Chapman points out that no relationship is static and that the average lifespan of the "in love" stage of a romantic relationship (possibly friendships as well) is two years. After that point, a relationship either deepens, or it falls apart. Knowledge of your own primary love language and of those you love will help strengthen relationships even as the actual feelings of love ebb from time to time.


What Happens When the Love Tank Drains?

Sometimes a conflict within a relationship leaves one or both people utterly baffled about what actually happened. It is entirely possible, though, that the real conflict is not being aware of one another's love language. Sometimes we do not recognize the complaints and requests of others for what they truly are, instead taking things as a personal attack because it may be difficult to comprehend the reasons behind the feelings of a loved one well enough. We mistakenly assume and interpret according to our own preferences and desires, forming a subjective perspective of how things should be.

A person who feels loved by quality time may sound demanding when asking for it. A person whose primary love language is affirmations may seem anything from needy to conceited. One whose love language is gifts may come across as materialistic to those who do not understand their significance. Someone who is often touching others or asking for back rubs and holding hands may seem clingy. Moreover, someone requesting assistance with projects or everyday tasks may seem lazy to those who do not understand what motivates the requests. Not understanding why something is requested of someone is just as hurtful to the one being asked as it is to the one asking.

When hurt feelings are more than a petty over-reaction, it causes further complications if those feelings are minimized. Often enough, trying to explain the pain results in further belittling of the feelings; usually unintentionally, but nonetheless more damage occurs. One can only request love, not demand it, and if the person is not paying attention to why another is truly hurt a snowball effect happens instead. The pain multiplies and a relationship is suddenly over, seemingly with no good explanation as to why. The only things remaining are feelings of betrayal and utter confusion. A failed relationship of any kind is one of life’s most profound pains. However, a little understanding may provide revelations about your reactions as well as about the reactions of others. These revelations may be enough to change perspective and perhaps a relationship.


Words of Affirmation

For some people, actions do not always speak louder than words. Sometimes words have more power to express love than do individual actions. They also have the power to hurt those that speak this love language more than those who speak other languages. People whose primary love language is words of affirmation thrive on hearing words of love and encouragement from those they care about. When words hurt, though, it is not a result of low self-esteem; it is the fact that those words came from someone who is loved and who claims to love. Also, when speaking this love language, it is helpful to know that there are different dialects. A person may be partial to one or more of them.

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One dialect is encouragement. Encouragement goes a long way toward making those who speak this dialect feel loved. It is a powerful motivator to know that someone else believes in their abilities and appreciates their goals. But a casual dismissal of an expressed desire to do something can be just as defeating as outright discouragement. A word of praise is another dialect of this language. Praise for accomplishing something or a sincere expression of happiness over the achievements of someone else is a form of recognition; something everyone needs once in awhile but has even more meaning to those who speak this dialect. Lastly, a kind word speaks a particular dialect of this language. A kind word can be anything from a simple "I love you" to a sincere compliment or words of appreciation. In fact, words of appreciation might even be a dialect all its own. To those who thrive on this dialect, they feel particularly cared about by hearing the things appreciated about themselves.

However, one must also be careful about the feelings of someone whose love language is affirmations. Criticism can be particularly hurtful, as can harsh words. Sometimes it is not even what is said; rather the way something is said is what hurts. A compliment laden with sarcasm, for instance, or a blame-filled apology minimizes feelings. Conversely, an expression of disappointment or hurt can be seen as a kind word of love if expressed in a loving manner. The one expressing the disappointment desires to be known, and the admission of disappointment is an effort to bring authenticity and honesty to a relationship. Be careful not to take offense by this if the one who speaks this language expresses disappointment or hurt and be careful not to express your negative emotions to that person in an angry manner.

To heal wounds of someone speaking this love language, however, words are just as powerful in apology form as when expressing love. A heartfelt apology that sincerely indicates this person's feelings matter is an act of love. Listen to the reasons behind someone's hurt feelings or anger and try to see things from that person's perspective. If you feel you did possibly wrong that person a gentle and sincere apology will likely quickly smooth things over again. If, on the other hand, you feel you have not done anything wrong, kindly explaining your point of view will help build further understanding so that reconciliation can ensue. The emphasis here is on kindly explaining. Keep in mind the goal is not to prove there is only one right interpretation of a conflict. The goal is reaffirming that this person is cared about.

Receiving Gifts

The most important thing to remember about people whose primary love language is gifts is that these people are not materialistic nor are they hoarders. They may collect certain objects of interest, but they can tell you who gave them each and every one. To them, these things have more sentimental value than any perceived clutter they may create.

A thoughtful gift is to be cherished by these individuals. The gifts are proof that someone else cares enough about them to think of them for no particular reason as well as on special occasions. A real gift, however, is never given in exchange for services or something tangible. A present seen as payment or a trade, it is not an act of love. Rather, the best show of love through gifts is one offered "just because" with no strings attached.

These gifts do not have to be extravagant and do not even have to be store bought. Something as simple as a handwritten note or a hand-picked flower from a field can be considered a gift. If it comes from the heart and shows some thought was put into it, the gift will particularly be appreciated long after it is received. The smallest of gestures may become lifelong keepsakes for these individuals.

Even though a gift does not have to be big to be appreciated, forgetting a gift on a birthday or another special day means feelings are likely to get hurt. And if someone who used to do thoughtful things goes a long time without giving these small tokens of love, one who speaks this language might wonder if feelings have changed. Gifts do not have to be offered up every time these people are seen, but the consideration behind them is always appreciated.

One last word of caution, do not expect gift-giving to be a form of apology to people who speak this language. Giving a gift as an apology might be seen as a bribe rather than a sincere show of contriteness. If a gift is offered while apologizing, make sure the person receiving it is aware of the sincerity of love behind the offering.


Acts of Servrice

Anything you can do to make the life or a particular task easier for those who speak this love language is appreciated. These people especially appreciate those willing to lend a helping hand. However, it has to come from a sincere desire to assist out of love and not because of mere obligation to do so. Any act of service done purely out of coercion will cause resentment. Both the one doing the service and likely the one receiving will feel it.

Something important to keep in mind about those who speak the acts of service love language is that they are not lazy people. They do not expect others to do things for them. In fact, this is the very reason the act is so appreciated - because it is done out of love. It is a thoughtful show of love to want to ease a burden for someone else through service. However, when offering service to those with a fierce sense of independence and who are used to doing things for themselves, it might be wise to ask first before proceeding.

Other than that, those that truly utilize this love language do even the smallest acts with a sense of love. These people are not thinking about what is in it for them or what they may receive in return, because it is indeed not a trade but a gift of love and often a gift of time, too. Even something as simple as helping a child with homework or bringing a person a cup of coffee in the morning is a loving act of service.

Quality Time

Quality time is another love language with several dialects, but the most important thing about this love language is that the focus is on togetherness. Those who speak this love language do not believe that the world revolves around them. Instead, they treasure the time spent with loved ones precisely because they view the time spent together as a gift. Focused, undivided attention means the world to these people. Virtually any activity done together is enjoyable, so long as the focus is on the spending time together and the other person's attention is not on something else.

One dialect of quality time is quality conversation. People have conversations all day long, but quality conversations go beyond just the small talk (though that can also be considered quality time if the emphasis is on enjoying one another's company). Quality conversations involve mutual sharing and listening. To share thoughts, experiences, and feelings in a friendly and uninterrupted context is especially meaningful. Those who speak this love language feel especially loved by those who take the time to listen to what they have to say, particularly when their interest is genuine. Those who understand these people well tend to draw the one who speaks this language out by asking questions with true intent to understand. They genuinely want to know these people better. However, sharing your own personal thoughts, feelings, and desires with these people is just as important as listening to theirs. It is a sign of mutual caring and trust, a true gift of love.

Another dialect of this language is quality listening. To those who speak this particular dialect, the emphasis is more on listening than mutual discussion. However, the catch is that listening is all that is needed. The person sharing does not need the one listening to jump into "fix it" mode with suggestions for how to solve a problem. Chances are, the person speaking already has an idea of how to solve the problem and is merely seeking understanding and perhaps sympathy for their perspective. An honest question such as, "What do you think?" might be the request for suggestions or advice. Otherwise, never offer advice unless you are sure that this person is going to be receptive of it. Instead, listen with empathy and try to understand.

Lastly, yet another dialect of quality time is quality activities. For this dialect, the emphasis is not on the activity itself, but rather it is on the reason for doing the activity. Any activity one or the other enjoys is perfect for spending quality time together. It can be as simple as going to a cafe for a cup of coffee and a conversation. A picnic by the lake or a walk through the park can be quality time well spent. Even a mundane task such as going to the gym can be turned into quality time. Have a quality chat while running on the treadmill. It is that easy, so long as it provides a context for sharing on a deeper level.

How to Listen Sympathetically

1. Maintain eye contact. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that you are fully listening.

2. Do not multi-task by engaging in other activities at the same time.

3. Listen for feelings and confirm them to show understanding. Ask questions if something needs to be clarified. "I noticed you hesitated when you said that. Does that mean you're still a little ambivalent?" "I'm not sure what you mean by that."

4. Observe body language. It often is the greatest cue to what a person may not say but is feeling. It may also indicate the opposite of what is said, as in stating "I'm okay" when you are really hurting inside.

5. Refrain from interrupting. Even if you are excited to share your own ideas and perspectives. Interrupting before someone else finishes sharing is the same thing as saying you do not really care about what they have to say. Their ideas are less important than your own.

6. Express your understanding.

7. Ask if there is anything you can do to help, but refrain from telling another person what they should or should not do. The focus is on being supportive of the current feelings and not on trying to solve the entire problem.

8. Offer advice only if solicited.

Physical Touch

Physical touch is a language that may be hard for many to express if unaccustomed to it. All love languages can be difficult to master if they are not second nature, but this one is difficult for many due to fear of misinterpretation. Physical touch is a sign of love, but it has to be an appropriate contact. The kinds of touches people consider to be appropriate vary from person to person and from situation to situation. Touching someone else even appropriately is often difficult for someone who prefers not to be touched.

That said, if someone you know always seems to be patting people on the shoulder, giving hugs or asking for hugs, or gently touching others using something like a gentle poke, this person's primary love language is likely physical touch. To this person, nothing communicates affection more than shared touches. They also particularly enjoy cuddling with a spouse or with their children. Their personal space bubble is usually not as large as some people around them, so if they violate your space, it is not meant to make you uncomfortable.

When expressing love to your friends who speak this love language, you can do things like return a hug. It may be difficult if you are not a touchy person, but those who speak this language sense your resistance and might interpret that as a hurtful insult, particularly if the one resisting is an intimate friend. Try to relax into a hug once in awhile. It does not have to be often or a prolonged hug, but one that communicates genuine caring. High fives are another way to communicate enthusiasm for friendship through touch. So is an arm around the shoulder. In this way, it may be like a hug. High fives can deliver some of the things hugs communicate, such as happiness to see someone.

Hand holding, on the other hand, may only be appropriate for significant others or close friendships. It depends on the individual. Some people may not see it as such an intimate act. Additionally, some individuals who like to touch will touch the faces of those they care about. Not in a caressing manner necessarily (unless it is a spouse or a child), but in a way that communicates affection. A pat on the cheek or on the head, for instance.

In times of pain or crisis, a warm touch communicates more than words ever could. But things that truly hurt those with this primary love language are forms of physical abuse. Hitting and slapping are especially painful to those with this primary love language. It causes emotional abuse as well as physical abuse. Also, never physically push someone who speaks this love language away from you. It leaves a lasting emotional impact. And never force a touch on someone who is not receptive to it, even if this is the primary love language. Remember, it has to be considered appropriate contact. A touch from a stranger or someone unliked will likely be an unwelcome touch.

Find out what your primary love language is by taking this quiz on Dr. Chapman's website or here on beliefnet.


Things to Remember. . .

Be careful not to misinterpret another simply because their language is different from your own, which is not that hard to do since we tend to show love to others in ways that mean the most to us and misunderstand attempts that are not natural to us. For instance, one who seeks quality time is not clingy or incapable of being happy and whole without the love of particular people. One who seeks words of affirmation is not dependent upon the opinions of others as a source of self-definition and self-worth. One who particularly appreciates gifts is not materialistic. One who enjoys physical touch is not emotionally needy. And one who often requests assistance is not incompetent or incapable. Judging according to what we understand and are comfortable with builds barriers. Try to let the walls down long enough to see when perceptions might be skewed. Just because one love language is foreign and does not come naturally to you does not make it less valid.

It is a basic human need to feel loved and accepted in one's own right, to be accepted as is - without the need for pretense, without the need to impress, and without the fear of losing someone held dear due to inevitable flaws and mistakes. There is a desire just to be enough, contributing in meaningful ways to the lives of loved ones, regardless of all the ways in which failure happens. To be human is to be imperfect, yet people judge according to their preferences. We also tend to love and leave according to our preferences. We put up walls, all in the name of protecting ourselves. As a result, love is not necessarily felt by others, but love is there nonetheless. Somewhere. Understanding the five love languages enables us to better give and receive love. It paves the road to love so that it can build the bridges for us.

What love can do. . .

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.”
― Leo Buscaglia


Author's Final Thoughts

Despite the world's insistence to the opposite, love still exists, but it is like people are conditioned to see love as it is in romance novels and movies - either there or not. Moreover, if it is present, always unconditional and unending. When that illusion is busted - as it will always eventually be - people teach themselves just to accept it as human nature, and that is the way it has to be. People think that something accepted as truth is easier to let go of.

However, what if adults loved like a child? What if adults forgave like a child? Do not put up with purposeful physical or emotional abuse. Do not be a doormat, but do not forget that there are people who are honestly contrite and trying to make adjustments for the benefit of the another. Compromise is part of love, yet it does not mean compromising oneself. What if people worked through their pain and suffering, still choosing to love someone else simply because everyone deserves to be loved? What if people gave love the chance to heal and make things right again? What if people actively chose to love. Loving action fuels love the feeling. The one loving learns to feel love again, and the one receiving feels loved again and therefore loves in return. It is a cycle that should perpetually be kept in motion if it is to last.

Think of all that could be gained instead of lost if people actively love through, or at least after, all the negative feelings and things that happen. Intellectually knowing of someone's love often has less value than feeling it. The feelings of affection ebb and flow, but consistency in showing it keeps it healthy. If love the noun works in conjunction with love the verb, we come one step closer to the elusive Love that we all seek. It is not asking too much. It does not require making yourself less of a priority or making someone else so much of a priority that it consumes all of your time. It does not require changing who you are. It just requires being alert and thoughtful.

The Least That We Can Do Is Care

In the words of Kid Rock and Martina McBride, the least that I can do is care. How about you?

Share Your Love Language

Don't forget to take part in the poll at the top of the page! And feel free to share your answer in the comments, too.

Watch Oprah Discover Hers

Some Love Language Humor


Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on July 09, 2016:

No wonder I get along with you so well, Paula! ;) hahaha It's a little harder to tell when communicating mostly in writing. But I can tell by the things people say almost as by what they do. It fascinates me too because it can be applied to any type of relationship or setting. It doesn't necessarily have to be with someone you love or are intimate with such as family or close friends.

Suzie from Carson City on July 09, 2016: guessed my language would be "Quality Time." I'm gonna have to agree with you.

This is a fascinating read.........."P"

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 21, 2016:

I appreciate your understanding. I will have more of a peaceful evening now that the kids are all in bed. LOL Actually, I might go to bed early tonight. I wanted to write some, but I'm exhausted and can't seem to focus enough on it to make any headway. I hope you have a peaceful evening as well.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 21, 2016:

I completely understand about how busy life can be and seems always is no doubt! Please do not worry about trying to figure out the name of the book, as it will come to you when you stop thinking about it LOL, at least that is how it is for me.

I hope you have a peaceful evening with your babies.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 21, 2016:

Sweet lady, I'm surprised you have not given up on me! I've had that on my mind to send for so long now. I finally found the perfect pendant and such and then time gets away from me so often as life happens. But now my mind is on trying to figure out the title to that other book I mentioned. It's driving me absolutely insane! I wish I could remember it. I remember reading it because the story was so moving and because one of the most amazing teachers I've ever met assigned the book. She was an inspiration in and of herself, having overcome poverty to turn her own life around. As an education professor, she inspired many teachers to be more than just teachers but to be great teachers, I'm sure.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 21, 2016:

Oh, yes, I keep every little memento, card, letter, note, drawing, etc. that I’ve ever received, as they mean so much to me and I cherish them. So, I believe you’ve helped me to narrow down my love language.

Aw, that is so sweet of you to think of me. I know I will enjoy wearing it and will cherish it forever. That is so thoughtful and perfect for me!

Hugs and much love to you, sweet friend

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 21, 2016:

It could be that how you love express love is your primary love language. We tend to express love in ways that make us feel most loved because it feels natural to us. However, I maybe would not slay it is your primary language if receiving gifts from others is not as important to you. I mean, giving without expecting in return is the point of that language. ..but, when someone gives something to you for no particular reason, does it give you the warm fuzzy feelings, so to speak? Do you tend to keep things people give you because it is sentimental and experience the same feelings upon seeing those gifts? If so, that is likely your primary. Or if you find yourself hoping loved ones going on trips remember to bring you a souvenir, things like that.

I'm about to send you that necklace I keep intending to mail.....hopefully I will have it finished soon so that I can add it to a couple of other things I have for you. I think I"ll add that book to the package. It seems you might benefit from it and you can't go wrong reading it no matter.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 21, 2016:

Hi Shan,

Referring back to your comment before this comment back to me, I know I need to pay more attention to my husband’s love language as I know he wants me to acknowledge and thank him for doing things, which I try to do, but in my mind a lot of times, I think it is just things that should be done regardless. However, now I am mindful to praise him and thank him for doing so, which I do tremendously appreciate. So, I know he needs my affirmation; however, he does seem to love it even more in the hugging and touching language, which I think is what makes him feel loved, possibly?

I do love doing things for others and it brings me a lot of joy, and I don’t expect anything in return, so that may be my primary love language.

I appreciate your further insight here.


Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 21, 2016:

Faith Reaper, I was thinking more about what you said about mixing the love languages up. I don't think you have mixed them up. I think they sometimes just overlap. I may have already made that point in my previous comment, though.

You had me thinking, though, about things. I mentioned in the hub already how some languages are not natural to us. Service, to me, is one that I have felt like I really had to humble myself in the past to accept. I have had some bad experiences and just do not like to ask anyone for anything. Accepting offers of service sometimes is difficult too for many of the same reasons asking for it bothers me. It is so much easier for me to offer service than to accept it. Even though I should probably be more mindful of it as a love language for those that have it as a primary. But someone once told me that if I deny another person's gift, I am denying them a blessing, whereas I was just trying to politely refuse something I deemed unnecessary. That changed my perspective on it somewhat. After all, service is a type of gift and a gift can be a service.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 20, 2016:

I agree, Kathleen. I recently gave it to someone as a sort of engagement gift. I also love that the concept can be applied across all types of relationships even of they are tweaked slightly.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on February 20, 2016:

I so wish this book had been available 40 years ago when I was a newlywed. It would have saved my husband and me so much unnecessary heartache. Now I recommend it to any engaged couple I know. It is basic information necessary to a happy marriage. Thanks for sharing it in this hub.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 19, 2016:

I think it's easy to mix them up sometimes because they can overlap. It's hard to say if pointing out what was done is because of a need for affirmations or if the recognition of having done it lets the other know you appreciate that gesture of love. I'm pretty sure what my husband means by it is that he's done these things for me so I should do some things for him in return. It's easy to feel like someone should do those things anyway and write it off as no big deal and the call for recognition to be manipulative. But sometimes those things are really ways of saying they might need more love. To feel more loved rather. I think sometimes the love tank drains faster than other times or needs to be topped off more under certain circumstances.

And I am the same way about gifts. It makes me feel good if they smile. To me, it's a form off affirmation. But to those who love to receive gifts, the act of giving may be the way they know best to express their love. They say serving others is a way to show love and that it makes one feel good for doing it. We all show love, whether through service acts, gifts, etc because it makes us feel good. We give love to get love. Seeing the smile or a thank you note for a gift is a form of love in return.

If you want a little more confirmation as to what your husband's might be, you can read the reply I made to Eric's comment. It might be useful. Or you can take the quiz with your husband to find out his too.

Oh, what a sad experience for you at the nursing home. I can see why it upset you. It would upset me too, but it was not your fault. It didn't really dawn at me at the time why she clung to me so, but I realized later she probably had dementia or something and thought I was someone else. What was on my mind at the time was something more akin to the touch you speak of in your most recent hub.

And no big deal about the flower. I know it wasn't something done on purpose and I'm sure I've done plenty unintentionally to my own children that hurt them. It's just one of those random things I remember, though much more painful things and things of more importance take the place of things like that as we age. I'm not even sure why that one incident stuck with me, but I remembered every time my children brought me a flower with no stem to put in water or a weed to put in a vase. They still sometimes bring flowers they pick in the yard when they are in bloom.

Hugs back at you, always.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 19, 2016:

Yes, it is all very helpful, Shan. And now I am thinking maybe I have them mixed up because what you said about your husband mentioning what he has done because mine will do that too, when I am thinking ...well, that is something he should just do. But he for sure loves affirmation and praise which I do a lot for my grands but maybe I need to increase it for him. Oh, I love giving gifts too and just really go overboard in thinking it all out as to what would make that certain person feel special and happy, when it matters not if I receive anything at all in return but just knowing I made them smile is enough for me. Hmm, I seem to be all mixed up on the love languages. That is so strabge that you mentioned your experience at the nursing home because I had a similar one but mine upset me to no ebd. I was in the National Honor Society in high school abd we went to a nursing homeland I'll necer forget a frail women in a wheelchair keep staring at me and finally asked me was I her granddaughter ...oh, me, I was so young at the time and remember feeling so torn about what to tell her but I finally told her the truth in a gentle manner. She immediately began trembling and it got so bad they had to wheel her off! I never went back and to this day I wish I had told her I was her granddaughter. My heart broke for her, but I am glad you had a joyful experience. I may need to read that book. I'm sorry about your mom ...Hugs

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 19, 2016:


Faith Reaper, something regarding your original comment. It may be tough for children to grasp the concept of people having more than one language, but adults sometimes still have that thought process.

I love it when. ..why don't they? I did this out of love. . .why is it not accepted? So and so never does this for me. . .maybe so and so does not care as much as I thought or so and so says. Etc. It's all similar. At least being aware of the languages provides some middle ground to stand on while working through misunderstandings that were taken personally even if they weren't meant to be. And then it provides the starting point for repairing and rebuilding.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 19, 2016:

Hi Theresa! No worries about the sharing. I came home from work yesterday and fell asleep on the couch until I had to put the kids to help the kids with homework and put them to bed.

It does not sound silly to me at all that service is your language. I think it is one of my husband's as well. He often says things like, "I did this for you, so. . ." like he wants my recognition for having done those things. I think back early on in our relationship when he always liked when I made his coffee for him. I also have a friend whose love language is service, I believe. (Or had, not sure yet since she is currently holding a grudge against me for pointing out this very concept to her, granted I accidentally unleashed some pent up frustration with her when I did it. Years of it, but still. . .Too much else happening and overwhelming me at the time and I messed up.) She used to ask for my help when she was overwhelmed with work and was always so grateful for it. But she never really understood what I needed. Still doesn't. She is basically estranged from her family and it saddens me. Every time she complains about something they do or that friends do, I can see both sides. And I've tried in the past to explain it but didn't have the full articulation to explain the concept until I really delve into Champan's theory. It was like his theory provided a means to better understand how to fix brokenness that before I only saw a tiny glimpse of what was happening and could suggest no real and useful course of action.

I started noticing how certain love languages can come across to people who don't speak those primary languages. I think it is helpful to be more mindful of those things.

I particularly recommend Chapman's book on love languages for singles. All of them address the love languages in different situations, but that one is more in general and carries over to all relationships - other family members and friendships. It provides real examples of people he encountered and their stories about how figuring out the love languages helped improve relationships and bring back lost ones.

Champman says that there can be a primary and a secondary love language. My primary is quality time with the preferred dialect usually being quality conversation, but I find that to be a rare thing to come by. This world is too busy and social media makes everything less personal much of the time, less one on one and intimate. And my probing and observant tendencies can alienate people if I'm not careful. I learn and I grow from the deeper thinking and discussions. I also feel like I know people better for it. I don't know. . .no one is perfect. We try to show only our best to the world, so it is an honor when people allow me to see more depth behind all that is worth admiring, the things that really shape what a person is able to show at their best.

I'm rambling now, I guess. Back to the point, my secondary is affirmations. I do like to know what I am appreciated for. When it is a genuine compliment and not meant to make me feel pressured or obligated to always live up to something I can't possibly be. I figured out I have a secondary by taking the quiz. I provided a link to Champan's quiz in the hub. It's fairly quick and accurate and it ranks your five preferences in order. You might go back and check it out.

His website also says that we all naturally have a particular love language preference, but that there might be times when other languages seem more appealing than our natural preference. A mother overwhelmed with trying to take care of the kids, a job, and a home, for instance, might wish her husband help out more around the house without her having to ask even if her primary love language is something else.

I think it also depends on the situation and who you are with to a degree. Touch is not my language by any means, but if I am close enough to someone it is not so difficult to accept touch without being uncomfortable. Or to cuddle with a family member to watch tv is sometimes something I enjoy, though it does not have to be often for me since that is not my preference. Otherwise, it does not come all that naturally to me, except around really young children, and I've had to be more conscientious about it around people that obviously speak it as a primary language, like my daughter. With work settings or people I don't know well, things like that. . .I have to purposely be mindful not to appear as if the touch is unwanted or awkward.

Funny, this makes me think back to a college experience. A group of us went to a nursing home to sing Christmas carols. This resident there took such a liking to me that she was my shadow the entire time we were there, clinging to my side as if she were afraid to let go of me. I have no idea who she thought I was, but apparently, it meant something to her that I was there. I remember the experience because it was so uncomfortable to me, yet it was also important that I let her be happy. Joy was the point of the visit, after all. I guess maybe we all know how to love in all languages, but the degree to which we use each one my vary from person to person according to our own preferences and according to the preferences of those we are trying to love.

It's important to master all of them, I think - to overcome when a language falls outside our comfort zone or natural tendencies. And it's important to understand that the behaviors of others may not be as negative as they might seem to us. As I said in the article, someone who speaks service may seem interfering to those who are independent by nature or who don't speak that language. Or one who constantly affirms may seem clingy. The notion really just gives me pause and makes me reevaluate my initial impressions and reactions to things.

It's also helped me understand why things are so personal when it isnt' meant to be. Of course, it usually takes quite a bit of time or repetition before it becomes so personal, but then I understand why and I'm all the more aware of why it is so important to know the love language of those I say I love, especially those I want to keep in my life. The more we feel loved and cherished, the more we want to give it in return. But in order to truly give it in return, we must speak the right language. And they must speak ours. We can all give and receive love in all five languages, but one speaks loudest or maybe a secondary might come close. The others are meaningful, but don't have the same affect as the primary.

Oh, regarding your grandkids, yes that can be considered a gift. If one of them has gifts love language, they will be thrilled you think enough of their artwork to keep it. I love to give gifts to others, though it is not a primary of mine. I love the look of appreciation and the words of appreciation when someone truly appreciates the act. Sometimes more than one language can be conveyed at the same time. If a child loves words of appreciation, a thank you may fill the tank right up or compliments about the artwork may do the job. I have artwork on the wall from years ago that my kids gave me. And my oldest has a drawing I did for him in a hurry years ago on his wall today. He has moved that thing with him every time we've moved. It says "I love you" on it and his primary is affirmations. He loves notes and letters from others. But I still remember picking a dandelion as a gift for my mom when I was little. She scoffed at it for being just a weed and she's not a flower person anyway, but my little heart sank. So I have accepted weeds and flowers of all sorts from my children, especially when they were smaller. They loved bringing flowers to mommy. Now, I think maybe it was to hear the thank yous and to be appreciated, but if any of them had gifts as a primary it would have been just as good to accept it with love.

Now that I wrote you a book. . .I do hope you find this information useful even if you've heard of the concept before. I think it's always a good thing to keep in mind and not to forget. Hugs and love to you always as well!!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 19, 2016:

Hi Dear Shan,

I'm sorry I conked out last night before getting back on my computer LOL ...tough day. TGIF! I'm here now and will share everywhere now.

You are so right about children forgiving and continuing to love.

My love language must be service because when my husband does something without me having to mention it, I feel so appreciated and love LOL ...sounds silly, but to me it means he has thought about all of that without me having to mention anything. His love language is affirmation and physical hugs and kisses, etc. When it comes to my children and grandchildren, I tend to keep everything they give me and draw for me, so don't know if that means the language of gifts? Can someone have more than one love language?

Thank you for always being such a sweet friend.

Hugs and much love to you always

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 18, 2016:

Yes, I do believe that youth hinders ability to understand others love differently. It hinders comprehension of many things. Thankfully, we continue to grow and to learn. But one thing that children tend to do better than adults is to forgive and to not only forgive, but to keep on loving. Thank you so much for your friendship and support. Hugs and love to you too.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 18, 2016:

Wow, Shan, this is a wonderful and comprehensive article on the love languages! I especially found your final thoughts at the end powerful and thought-provoking. Yes, what if is so important to understand another's love language, which sometimes takes a lot of maturing and living, for when we are young, I think it is hard for us possibly to grasp the concept that others love differently than we do ...thinking "well, I love it when such and such why don't they?" The quotes you've chosen throughout are perfect. I'm going to get on my laptop now so I can share everywhere. I see I have some more catching up to do here in my reading! Awesome job, Shan. Hugs and much love to you and yours always, sweet friend

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 17, 2016:

Thank you, Larry. Glad you liked itj.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 17, 2016:

Great overview!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 10, 2016:

Hi Flourish, it took me awhile to finish this hub. I was actually trying not to make it so long, but also to share my own thoughts and perceptions while providing a sort of overview of each of the languages for those unfamiliar with them. I hope I was concise enough and that I didn't run off potential readers because of it being so long. Many are already aware of the five love languages, but for those who are not, it can be a thought-provoking and possibly a life-changing concept.

I was talking with a friend today who I have not seen in about six years. I'll be seeing her later this month. Anyway, she read this hub and mentioned a gift that someone gave her and her husband about how to fight in a healthy manner. She called it an oxymoron, but educational and useful. She also said it mentioned the five love languages. I guess it makes sense, though we didn't discuss it in detail. Sometimes we forget the things that someone else might take personally simply because of who they are. Knowing the love language of another also makes us aware of things not to do while disagreeing. Disagreements should not alienate.

She also asked what mine is. It is quality time with affirmations a close second. My guess is that is because affirmations is strongly related to quality conversation in my mind, which is a dialect of quality time I particularly enjoy. She shared hers and said she grew up with affirmations but didn't fully appreciate them until she was an adult. That had me thinking this afternoon about my own life. My family members in general are not much for quality conversations. Or not with me, anyway. But most of my fondest memories of childhood involve the times spent with family, laughing and enjoying one another's company. And it's probably been since college that I've been able to hang with most of my friends and six years since I've been back home to see family. I miss those times with family and friends dearly. I realized that when I refer to someone as being like family, those are the people I tend to give my time to and appreciate when they offer theirs to me. Time is a gift, especially since it can be more intensive than the other languages in that it requires more. . .well, more of one's own time. . .to express that love. It's a precious gift to me. And when someone opens up to share deeply with me on an intimate level, I consider an honor of great importance. It says more to me than some might imagine. Especially since few people get to know me in that way. I've found that most don't really want to know. Yet, I find it more freeing in away to be able to trust that way, perhaps because I see it as a gift of true caring. To share let someone else know more than what others typically see and form opinions of is a gift of trust. There's a rawness and a beauty behind everyone when one sees some of the bad with the good. I wish it wasn't so rare.

Anyway, now that you probably got more of a reply than you anticipated. . .LOL. . .I just find it interesting the way the concept crosses all areas of life.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 10, 2016:

That last reply was, of course, to you, drbj. :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 10, 2016:

Very thorough explanation. People feel most loved in different ways.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 09, 2016:

Psychology and interpersonal relationships have always fascinated me. Knowing your background, your comment here is particularly meaningful. Body language says a lot. In its absence other red flags should be heeded, I suppose. When one goes against intuition hurt follows.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 09, 2016:

Thanks, Martie. The concept puts many things into perspective, I think.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 09, 2016:

Thank you, Venkataachari. I'm glad if you learned something.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on January 09, 2016:

Thank you, shanmarie, for explaining so explicitly and exquisitely the 5 love languages as postulated by Chapman. I have found, when all else fails, the observation of body language may be the truest clue to the other person's genuine emotions and perceptions.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 09, 2016:

Very interesting, well-explained article about the language of love. Bravo!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on January 08, 2016:

Very beautiful description of the 5 love languages. You have dealt with it very elaborately and with deep perception. Thanks for sharing such wonderful knowledge. I learnt many things by reading this hub.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 08, 2016:

Thank you, Manatita. I thought it was interesting to see someone else discovering their love language. It's like a sort of epiphany about something already known. Suddenly a lot of things make more sense.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 08, 2016:

Maria, I thought I replied to you already just after I saw your comment, but it seems to havd be disappeared and I do not remember what I said.

Wait, yes I do. I said that I think Chapman's concept may be comprehensive from any perspective. Glad to know his concept and descriptions mixed with some of my own thoughts and observations still make sense.

Hugs to you too, beautiful heart!

manatita44 from london on January 08, 2016:

A very beautiful, educational, informative and extremely practical Hub. Nice Oprah video and Love song expressing the philosophy of Love.

Much beauty in your Hub. Peace.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 07, 2016:

Dear Shannon,

I read "The Five Love Languages"... hard to believe over 20 years ago.

You've done a comprehensive job in explaining and analyzing the concept.

Your chosen quotes are wonderful.

Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Maria

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 07, 2016:

Thanks, Eric. If you do not know her primary love language, there are a few ways to discover it. Watch how she expresses love to you and to others. Chances are, she most often expresses it using her own primary love language. Or, you can listen to her common complaints and requests. For instance, acts of service may be her primary language if she says things like, "I wish you would help out more around the house." Quality time may be her primary love language if she says things like, "We used to do things together and not we hardly spend any time together." Sometimes complaints or criticisms are actually a request for love. If those two methods don't work, try focusing on one particular language for a day or a week. When you find the primary love language, she will respond with more enthusiasm to it. The way in which she responds will be noticeably different. You'll know.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 07, 2016:

Marvelous -- I learned a whole lot. Great classifications, easy to follow and easy to attribute. I am falling short in a few languages. I better ramp up my attitude and make some adjustments because I really want my wife to be loved and know it. Thanks

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