In his own words, here’s how Chapman breaks down the five love languages in his book:
My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects….The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
The five languages are pretty straightforward, but here’s a brief description of what each of them mean:
- Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
- Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
- Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
- Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
- Physical Touch: It can be sex or holding hands. With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.
Chances are, you can relate to a few of these. Maybe you relate to all of them. But most of us have one or two that are much more important to us than the others, and it’s different for everyone. There’s really no scientific research behind Chapman’s theory; it just makes sense because it’s relatable. It’s obvious that we all show affection in different ways. These “languages” simply label those ways so you can understand people a little better.
What Matters Most to You?
You can probably figure out what your language is by simply giving it a little thought, but Chapman offers a 30-question quiz on his website. Which is helpful because, if you identify with more than one language, the quiz tells you which ones stand out most. It’ll feel silly as you take it, but seriously, do it. The results will break down how high you rank for each language, as you can see in the example below. (If you don’t feel like taking it online, you can also download the PDF version of the quiz here).