Learning the Languages of Love

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Remember those simpler times as a child when everything seemed magical with minimal effort? The world was an endless creative playground, staying up till 10 pm was a special treat, and forming friendships happened almost instantaneously.

Now flash forward 15 years, and suddenly adulthood has become a reality.

While each stage of life has its perks, maintaining a quality lifestyle as an adult takes more effort compared to those forgotten carefree childhood days–especially in regards to establishing and maintaining relationships. Moreover, in a recent study conducted by lifestyle website YourTango, results showed that a lack of effective communication contributes to high levels of dissatisfaction within relationships.

The findings denoted that communication issues are the most common factors (65 percent) that lead to divorce. This statistic discovery raises the question: How can measures be taken early on to address a lack of effective communication within the context of a relationship before it becomes too late?

Twenty years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman explored the answer to this question. Chapman’s extensive line of work in the relationship realm as a pastoral counselor and marriage counselor sparked his interest to write the book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.” Since the book was published in 1992, more than 10 million copies have been sold. In 2015, a new edition of the book was published. It currently sits at #2 on The New York Times list of best-selling love and relationship books.

Clever. Insightful. Thought-provoking. These are some of the words to describe Chapman’s book.

The foundation of “The 5 Love Languages” is rooted in author’s concept of the “love tank.” According to Chapman, every individual contains a reservoir of love that sustains them during difficult times. The tank is refilled when individuals feel that they have received love. Building upon this concept, Chapman explains that how individuals communicate their love varies, and can be categorized into five love languages: receiving gifts, words of affirmation, sharing quality time, acts of service, and physical touch.

While all humans give and receive love in one or more of these languages, the love is not received effectively if it is communicated in the wrong language.

For example, while some partners express their love through words of affirmation, others may demonstrate it through acts of service. If one partner is the former and the other partner is the latter, communication problems can arise. You might complain that your partner doesn’t say “I love you,” often enough, while your partner could argue that when they cook your favorite dinner for you as a surprise, that is their exact way of saying that they love you. This hypothetical situation reflects the premise of the book; the challenge lies in identifying what each partner responds to and learning how to use those languages accordingly.

Those who are interested in identifying their love language can complete the quiz on Chapman’s website titled “Discover Your Love Language.”

“By learning and identifying one another’s love communication style, which serves as an intuitive framework, individuals can learn to speak one another’s love language.”

The quiz is composed of 30 questions pertaining to the five love languages. Once completing the quiz, you receive a profile score. The highest score indicates your primary love language—referring to how you understand your partner’s expressions of love. The lower scores indicate the languages you rarely use to communicate love, which probably does not affect you on an emotional level in a relationship.

In order to further analyze the effectiveness of the quiz, BTRtoday interviewed with a couple–Anna and Jacob–who had taken the quiz.

Anna’s highest scores were a total of 12 points in Acts of Service, followed by 6 points for physical touch, and 6 points for quality time. These high scores indicate the primary way she communicates love with Jacob. During her interview, Anna explained that she loves doing little things for Jacob like cooking him dinner. Moreover, she realized that acts of service is her top love language, because when Jacob does things like tucking into her bed and cleaning her apartment for her without her asking, it makes her feel loved.

Comparatively, Jacob’s highest scores tied for the categories physical touch and quality time, with a total of eight points for each. His second highest love language is acts of service, with a total of seven points, followed by six points for words of affirmation.

Jacob explained that his top results were close together because they all meant so much to him.

He commented, “One of my favorite things is just hanging out with Anna because she is my best friend. I love helping her out with chores and more. I remember she called me about how stressed she was about moving out last year and I drove from Cincinnati to Dayton and stayed all night helping her and her sister clean her house.”

The framework of the five love languages is unique. It encourages individuals to see the silhouettes of thoughts and emotions within another mind, as demonstrated by Anna and Jacob’s answers when asked to reflect on their partner’s quiz results.

When Anna was asked if she thought the quiz results aligned with Jacob’s love communication style, she responded: “All of Jacob’s results, except for gifts, are really close. I think this shows that knowing the right moment to show love in a certain way is the trick now that he likes to be shown love in multiple ways. There are times I can tell he needs words of encouragement or compliments; and then there are other times when I know he just needs a hug. It’s hard to explain, but once you spend so much time with a person, you start to tell when they need certain acts of love specifically.”

Similarly, Jacob’s answer to this question aligned closely with what Anna had said.

“Although our results do not resemble each other, I feel like they somehow do when we are together,” he says. “She knows exactly what to do in every situation and I do the same for her. We understand each other to a degree that maybe we do not even quite comprehend yet.”

Anna and Jacob’s conclusions reiterate the overarching theme of Chapman’s book—all individuals, even significant others, experience and perceive the world in a different way. However, by learning and identifying one another’s love communication style, which serves as an intuitive framework, individuals can learn to speak one another’s love language.