The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman


Each of us naturally show love in a certain way. Maybe we enjoy giving compliments, maybe we plan romantic dates, or maybe we give thoughtful gifts. Each of these expressions of love is an example of a different love language. 

We all express love in different ways. However, if you express your love in a language your partner doesn't speak, the message of love may get lost.

Buying presents for someone who doesn't care about gifts won't understand the message you're trying to send. Being very touchy with your partner who simply wants to have a conversation won't receive the love you're trying to give them.

This book, while applicable to anyone, is particularly helpful for those in relationships. It will teach you about the different love languages and how to use each one.

Relationships are work and love is a choice. By loving your partner in the way they want to be loved you will dramatically increase the quality of your relationships.

What Are Love Languages?

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Each of us was raised in a culture that spoke a primary language such as English, Chinese, or Spanish. With time and practice we can learn additional languages. They may never feel as natural as our primary language but we can achieve fluency.

There are five emotional love languages— five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.

The Five Love Languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

If we speak one love language but our partner speaks another, our message may not be received. The important thing is to speak the language of your partner.

If you want your partner to feel the love you are trying to communicate, you must express it in their primary love language.

Words of Affirmation

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I can live for two months on a good compliment.
— Mark Twain

Verbal compliments are powerful indicators of love and can be incredibly strong motivators. 

Encouraging Words

All of us have areas in which we feel insecure. Encouraging words can be the push we need to overcome negative thinking.

Encouragement can also be used to help motivate your partner to achieve their full potential in life. What holds us back is often a lack of courage. A loving spouse can be the necessary catalyst for pursuing our interests and hobbies.

Kind Words

We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment.
— Gary Chapman

The message we are trying to convey is more about how we say something than the actual words used.

Our tone of voice can make a sincere compliment sound sarcastic and can make criticism sound much more constructive. 

Importantly, love isn't about keeping score. It's not about who did what wrong how many times. Love doesn’t bring up past failures.

By bringing into today the failures of yesterday you pollute a potentially wonderful present. The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history.

Humble Words

Love makes requests, not demands. Partners are equal and the way you request information needs to reflect that.

By expressing our needs and desires in the form of a request, we are giving guidance, not ultimatums. When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities.

On the contrary, when you make demands you become a tyrant. Your partner doesn't feel affirmed, but belittled. 

Quality Time

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Quality time is about giving someone your undivided attention. It's about focusing on your partner, giving time to them, and doing things with them.

If you're sitting on the couch watching TV that isn't quality time because your attention is on the television, not on each other.

Time is a precious commodity so by choosing to spend it with our partner we are able to show them love. 

Focused Attention

It isn’t enough to just be in the same room with someone. A key ingredient in giving your spouse quality time is giving them focused attention, especially in this era of many distractions.

Quality time doesn't mean that we have to sit in silence staring into each other's eyes. It simply means doing something together and giving your full attention to the other person.

Quality Conversation

Quality conversation is sympathetic dialogue where two people are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.

Quality conversation means staying focused in the present moment, listening sympathetically to what your partner has to say, and asking genuine questions to understand the other's thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Quality Activities

The emphasis is on being together, doing things together, giving each other undivided attention. What you're doing doesn't matter as much as why you are doing it. The essential ingredients in a quality activity are:

  • At least one of you wants to do it,
  • The other is willing to do it,
  • Both of you know why you are doing it— to express love by being together.

Receiving Gifts

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Giving gifts is an expression of love that transcends borders, race, religion, and culture. Giving a gift to someone is a visual symbol of love. 

You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.

Gifts may be purchased, found, or made. Gifts don't need to be expensive; their worth has nothing to do with monetary value and everything to do with love.

The Best Investment

To be an effective gift giver you may need to change your perception of money. Some of us are natural spenders while others are natural savers. Those who tend to prefer to save money often feel that buying gifts is silly or a waste of money.

If you discover that your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, then perhaps you will understand that purchasing gifts for him or her is the best investment you can make.
— Gary Chapman

You are investing in your relationship and making your spouse feel loved. When your partner is feeling loved they are more likely to reciprocate emotional love to you in a language you will understand.

The Gift of Self

For those who speak in terms of giving and receiving gifts, one of the most powerful gifts you may be able to give is your presence, being there when your spouse needs you. 

Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts.

Acts of Service

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Acts of service means doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please them by serving them, to express your love by doing things for them.

Such actions as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition, paying the bills, trimming the shrubs, walking the dog, and dealing with landlords and insurance companies are all acts of service. 

The things you do don't necessarily require a lot of time or money.

Doing the Right Things

Doing things for your partner is important but ensure you're doing the right things. 

What couples do for each other before marriage is no indication of what they will do after marriage. Before marriage, we are carried along by the force of the in-love obsession. As that love grows and matures it can be easy to stop doing things that once felt so natural.

Think back to things you did for your partner when you first started dating. If your partner speaks with acts of service they will likely love for you to start doing those things again. 

People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.

If your spouse is always upset about something like the dishes or yard work, then by doing chores for them in that area will scream your love for them. 

Doormat or Lover?

Doing things for the other person simply to get them to do something you want is manipulation. 

When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love.
Manipulation by guilt: “If you were a good spouse, you would do this for me” is not the language of love.
Coercion by fear: “ You will do this or you will be sorry” is alien to love.

No person should ever be a doormat. 

Physical Touch

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Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It's a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love.

Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse.
— Gary Chapman

It's important to remember that a touch that brings one person pleasure may not bring the other partner pleasure. If your partner's love language is physical touch they have the final word. Remember, you are learning to speak their language.

Crisis and Physical Touch

The most important thing you can do for your mate in a time of crisis is to love him or her.

If your partner's primary love language is physical touch, holding them while they cry may be more healing and comforting than words ever could.

Those who speak in terms of physical touch yearn for their spouse to reach out and touch them physically.

Running the hand through the hair, giving a back rub, holding hands, embracing, sexual intercourse— all of those and other “love touches” are the emotional lifeline of the person for whom physical touch is the primary love language.

Finding Your Love Language

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Each book includes a survey to find your love language though you can also take it for free on the official website.

To get you started you can also think about these three questions (pg. 125):

  1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.
  2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.
  3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of what would also make you feel loved.

Love is a Choice

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It's okay if speaking your partner's love language doesn't come naturally to you. When an action doesn’t come naturally, it can be an even greater expression of love.

Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.
We discover the primary love language of our spouse, and we choose to speak it whether or not it is natural for us. We are not claiming to have warm, excited feelings. We are simply choosing to do it for his or her benefit. We want to meet our spouse’s emotional needs, and we reach out to speak their love language.
— Gary Chapman

Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us.

In the security of love, a couple can discuss differences without condemnation. Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. Those are the rewards of love.

Love is a choice. And either partner can start the process today.

Where to Buy

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Buy the book on AmazonBarnes and NobleBAM, or just Google it. (I receive no kickback or commission for these links or summaries. See my disclosure for more.)


  • How love changes over the years and how to stay on top of it
  • How to get a troubled relationship back on track
  • How to have these conversations with your partner
  • Tips to get started using each love language
  • Pitfalls to avoid when implementing each language
  • A free survey for you and your partner to learn your top love languages
  • And much, much more!
Erik Cianci