The 5 Ways People Express Love (Plus, How To Identify YOUR Way)

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One of the best, but most challenging things about love, is that each of us feel, express, and experience it differently. Perhaps this is why it's such a difficult emotion to explain, because of how subjective it can be.

What this teaches us is that the person we end up with may not feel or express love in the same way(s) we do. This, among many other reasons, is why communication is so essential to building a happy relationship.

Without knowing how one another experiences love, how can you show it to them in a way they will understand?

If your "love language" is different than theirs, we can easily reach the conclusion that, while you may be showing them love in your way, they won't actually be feeling it, because it's not their way. This leads me to a subject called The 5 Love Languages.

The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman, which illustrates the five different ways people experience love. (Before I go any further, I want to say that I'm in no way affiliated with Gary Chapman or the book — I just think it's a valuable topic to discuss.)

Allow me to give an example: You're dating someone new whose primary love language is touch, meaning they most deeply experience love through physical contact, whether it be hand-holding or otherwise. Meanwhile, your love language is words of affirmation. You show your love to others by expressing it verbally.

At first, this may all seem great. But over time, you may verbally express your love more than you do physically. Your partner hears words, but sees no actions to back them up. This can make them doubt your feelings towards them, or make them feel unappreciated.

Let's explore what the five love languages actually are, so you can identify which of them you can relate to. You can relate to more than one, but odds are that one of them will be the most true for you:

1. Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation are important when expressing your appreciation, regardless of how small the thing is that someone's done for you. Some people, though, are less verbally expressive and may communicate using one of the other love languages.

Their idea of reciprocating what you do may be through acts of service or receiving gifts, so they'll do things for you or give you a token of their appreciation.

But if you don't feel love in this language, you'll eventually begin to wonder if they appreciate you and everything you do for them. This is why it's important to not only express your appreciation verbally, but to communicate to your significant other how you feel love.

2. Acts of service

Segueing directly into a virtual opposite of the previous point, we reach acts of service, which could essentially be taken as "actions speak louder than words." For some, words mean nothing without actions to back them up. In fact, this rings true for many people, as words without actions are essentially meaningless.

However, regardless of how many gifts you buy or how many times you tell someone you appreciate them, if their love language is acts of service, unless you actually get up and do things for them in return, they won't feel your love.

3. Receiving gifts

Gifts don't have to be elaborate items; they can be small, thoughtful gestures like picking up your partner's favorite candy when you see it at the convenience store, or picking up flowers for no reason.

For some people, this is how they both show and feel love most deeply — by giving to (or receiving from) others, no matter how small they may be.

4. Quality time

The only thing we can never get more of, and that we all have an equal amount of, is time. For those whose primary love language is time, putting your phone down and giving a partner your undivided attention is what's going to mean the most.

Don't half-listen to the TV in the background. Don't scroll through your newsfeed during dinner. Hell, don't even finish reading this article if you're with someone whose primary love language is quality time.

They understand the time you spend with them is more valuable than the money you spend on them. More money can be made, but more time cannot.

5. Physical touch

I personally relate to this one. For me, any small touch reverberates through my heart. It doesn't matter if it's my girlfriend holding my hand walking through a store, or resting her head on my shoulder — any sort of physical contact is what really shows love to me.

These love languages are a great way to help you define and communicate how you feel love. They're also a great way to teach us how to express our love to our partner in a way we're sure they'll understand.

But before any of this is possible, we need to have a conversation with him or her to define which language(s) they can best relate to. Then, we have to put in the effort to make sure we "speak" to them properly.

The term "love language" is no mistake. Consider sitting in a room with someone who speaks a foreign language and attempting to communicate. You may get a few things across, but they aren't going to fully understand what you're saying.

In order to get through to them, you're going to have to learn the nuances of their language, and vice versa. The same goes for love.


James Michael Sama is an award-winning Boston based blogger on the topics of dating and relationships, having amassed over 30 million readers in just a year and a half. He writes and speaks on the topics of chivalry, romance, and happiness throughout the country and has been featured repeatedly in news segments, talk shows, and mainstream radio.

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.