5 Ways To Determine What Your Love Language Actually Is

In 1992, the world was introduced to something called love languages. The concept, created by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., was that everyone receives and expresses love in one of five ways: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts (via 5 Love Languages). According to Chapman's theory, in knowing not only our own love language, but the love language of our partner, relationships can truly flourish because there's a deeper understanding of the different ways in which we love and need to be loved. 


Since that 1992 publication of "The 5 Love Languages," Chapman has continued on this language path, creating versions of his original idea specific for men, single people, military couples, and even creating the idea of apology languages (via Everyday Health). And a lot of people swear by these languages, adamantly believing in them, and making them a major part of how they understand their partner's behavior as well as their own. 

"Love languages are a deceptively simple concept, and understanding them can be transformative if you put in the practical work," trauma-informed relationship coach Julie Nguyen tells Mind Body Green. "It invites curiosity, not mind-reading, into the relationship."


If you are someone who thinks that there's something to love languages and you'd like to explore them more, the first step is trying to figure out what your love language is.

Read up on love languages

If you look up love languages, there's a lot of information out there, and most of that information links directly back to Dr. Gary Chapman's website, or his multiple books on Amazon. No matter where you do your research, you'll find each love language broken down, usually with examples of how that language looks in action (via Healthline).


But keep an open mind. As Walt Whitman wrote, "I am large, I contain multitudes." Meaning, no person is just one thing. We're all capable of being two, three, four, several things, and the same can be said for love languages (via Love is Respect).

You may find that the love language "physical touch" speaks to you, but that "quality time" language has more bearing on how you interpret love. Don't lock yourself into having just one love language. Instead, realize it's a spectrum, like most things in life, and you may not hold just one place on that spectrum with your love language.

Take a trip down relationship memory lane

As much as you may not want to revisit the memory of Lacy whom you dated in college or Mikey whom you dated in your mid-20s just to get over Lacy, taking a look at your past relationships can really help you see things clearer. If you can recall certain situations, how they made you feel and how you reacted, you can get a sense of what your love language(s) might be (via Bustle).


Did a former partner duck every time you tried to kiss them in public and that's something that bothered you? Did you maybe wish they expressed their love for you in gifts rather than words? Maybe you felt too uncomfortable when you were told that you were loved and felt too vulnerable to say the words, "I love you." Three little words that are the hardest for some people to hear and/or say.

"There is no decision without loss," psychologist Stan Tatkin tells Time about saying the L-word to a partner. "When you declare something about yourself to the other person, it makes real. It has somatic effect. It's who you are."

If the thought of saying those words makes you cringe, then it's safe to assume that words of affirmation might not be high up on your love languages. 


Be honest with yourself

When it comes to discovering anything about yourself, you need to be honest. If you'd prefer a gift to, say, a poem, then you need to be able to admit that to yourself. It doesn't make you materialistic or some sort of gold-digger; it makes you someone who shows and receives love through gifts. In fact, of all the love languages, receiving gifts is the one that gets the worst rap.


"People seem to look down on the 'receiving gifts' love language and attach unfair judgments," therapist Nicole Saunders tells HuffPost. "They may consider a person with that language to be materialistic, frivolous, and shallow."

Because of this, people struggle to admit this one to themselves. But if it's your love language, then it's your love language. Own it. It doesn't necessarily mean you want to be swimming in diamonds from Cartier every time your partner shows you love. Keep in mind, it also means you like giving gifts too (via Women's Health).

Talk to your partner

Really want to know what your love language is? Ask your partner.

If you can't seem to figure it out on your own either because you can't be honest with yourself or because you feel like you're more one language than another, but have a dash of that other language in there, too, then your partner can help because they're more willing to see the things about you that you can't. Also, in doing so, you can discover together what both your love languages happen to be — that is, if that's something they want to explore about themselves (via Psychology Today).


"There are two people in the relationship, their expectations are different, their needs are different, their way of communication is different," relationship counselor Gurpreet Singh tells Cosmopolitan UK. "Everything about them is different. There are similarities of course, but opposites attract quite a lot. When you're attracted to someone that's different to you, it is almost necessary you will run into things about the person that grate on you. That's always the way. Someone leaves the cap off the toothpaste and the other person gets irritated, all these things manifest themselves in relationships."

So deciphering your love language may be the key to unpacking any issues you might have. 


Take the quiz

If all else fails, then go straight to the source: the love language quiz (via 5 Love Languages). The quiz takes less than five minutes and by the time it's over you will not only have discovered your primary language, but what percentage of the other four languages you are — that is if you answered honestly.


Once you know what your love language is, you can better understand how you love, why you love, and what makes you feel loved. And the best part about love languages is they're not just for couples. Love languages can help strengthen friendships too. 

"Just like in a romantic relationship, it's helpful to understand and know what makes our friends feel happy and loved," therapist Nicole Sbordone, LCSW tells Hello Giggles. "So when we honor our friend's love language, we make them feel cared for and vice versa ... [it's about] making sure we understand our needs, as well as our friends' needs, so we can honor them and deepen the friendship."

Whether or not you buy into Dr. Chapman's theory on love languages is up to you. But, even if you're a little bit intrigued in how it might make your relationships with people better, then the first step is determining your own love language and going from there.