I have a confession: I’ve been chatting about the five love languages with my girlfriends for the last several years… but I hadn’t read the actual book until this past week. There’s an online quiz you can take to figure out your love language, but inspired by my friend Kelly’s post a couple weeks ago, I finally picked up the book and found it much more insightful than the magazine-style tally from the online version.
(Disclaimer: I’ll share more about this in my book review at the end of the month, but I also found many of the examples of married couples in the book maddeningly old-fashioned. It’s still super informative, but just something I wish I’d known to expect!)
In any event, if you’re new to the concept of love languages, the gist is that people want to receive love in different ways and so a behavior that might make one person feel adored might do very little for someone else. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. And figuring out which way (or two ways) you want to receive love is a fascinating exercise, whether you’re trying to better understand your partner or you want to learn more about yourself.
For me, I most appreciate quality time and words of affirmation. I knew I loved words of affirmation — Mark Twain’s quote “I can live for two months on a good compliment” rings true for me — but the quality time came as a bit of a surprise. I work from home by myself so I would have said I’m pretty independent and comfortable spending time on my own, but I do really cherish the quality of the time I get to spend with my family and friends, even if there’s not always a huge quantity of it. For instance, Will works long hours so we probably spend less time together on weekdays than your average couple, but when we’re together we’re good at leaving our phones in another room and really enjoying each other’s company.
For Will, I knew before reading the book that he most appreciates acts of service. Sometimes I joke that there’s nothing he finds more romantic than me offering to pick up the dry cleaning, but once I realized those kinds of things meant so much to him, it made me happy to do them. His secondary love language is definitely physical touch — he’s a back massager, hand holder, forehead kisser, etc. There’s definitely a learning curve in picking up each other’s love languages (especially when there’s not a ton of overlap — opposites attract!) but it’s been eye-opening for me in both our marriage and my relationships with family and friends.