the 5 love languages

february is my absolute favorite month.  it is my birthday, black history month and the month of love.  in light of love, i figured i would introduce you all to one of my favorite books – the 5 love languages by gary chapman.




i have read this book more times than i can count, i chose to write a paper on it in grad school for my psychology of marriage class, i have used it as a tool in countless sessions with couples/singles/teens and i have had multiple loved ones take the assessment (which you can take here).


the 5 love languages are on a 30 point scale.  you can have anywhere from 0 to 12 points in any given category.

first, i want you to have an idea of what the 5 love languages are:

  1. acts of service
  2. physical touch
  3. quality time
  4. receiving gifts
  5. words of affirmation


the thought is that these are the ways in which you receive love.  to get a better understanding of each, i will provide a general definition along with personal examples.  i will also share my love languages and how i think those play out in my life whether it be with a partner, a family member, a friend or at work.


acts of service is essentially anything that someone does to make your life a bit easier and perhaps, that is how you receive love.  the first thing that comes to mind is my dynamic with my roommate from freshman year, marilena.  she absolutely hates washing dishes and i cannot stand taking out the trash.  when we lived together, it was almost unspoken that each of us would take care of the thing the other did not like.  now that we are adults with our own apartments in separate cities, when we visit one another during a hectic week, we still do those things.  she might be responding to emails for work or simply laying on her couch after a long day and i will clean her kitchen.  when she comes to visit me, she will take out three bags of trash/recycling that i may have let pile up.  part of why this works for us is because i think she also values acts of service.


physical touch can be anything from someone you love resting their hand on your lap, to holding hands, to hugs, to kisses, to sex – and everything in between.  when i think of physical touch, i think of my mom.  she is an incredibly tactile person.  her preferred method of greeting someone is with a hug – even if they have met for the very first time.  because i know that this is a way in which she receives love, we do not ever see one another without doing a significant embrace.  i do not think that is something we will ever outgrow.


quality time has different definitions depending on who you ask.  for some, it is simply being in the presence of someone you love – whether it be in silence, while watching television or doing something active.  for me, it is about intentional time spent with someone i love with meaningful conversation and/or a meaningful experience.  the two things that come to mind for me are tgit nights with one of my best friends, jaclyn.  for years, we would get together every single thursday for dinner, wine and most importantly, tgit (thank god it’s thursday).  we would watch the shonda line up – grey’s anatomy, scandal and how to get away with murder.  we would be sure to get together at least one hour before the shows started to enjoy dinner with one another and recap our weeks and then, we got to dive into our favorite shows and almost have strokes during the commercial breaks.  shonda rhimes tends to have the impact on people.  the next thing that comes to mind are concerts/music festivals.  i have seen over 100 shows and each one holds a special memory.  one that stands out is my first coachella in 2015.  i was sitting in a field and looked jason (who might as well be my brother) in the eye and asked him if he was hearing what i was feeling.  it was almost as if we floated through the crowds to the next sound stage and we did not know who we were watching but we knew we were in love.  that is when we discovered tame impala, a band i have listened to every single day since april of 2015.  whenever i hear tame impala, i think of coachella and that connection with jason and the music. it was unforgettable.


receiving gifts is as straightforward as it sounds.  whenever my friend gracelyn comes over on a monday night, she will often bring over snacks, a bottle or champagne or a bouquet from trader joe’s.  all of these are gifts i happily receive.  a more extreme version would be my dad purchasing a lexus for my mom one mother’s day with a personalized plate – 4fe<3mrk (for felecia, love mark).


words of affirmation can be something like saying “i love you” before hanging up a phone call, complimenting a loved one on their appearance, telling someone just how much they mean to you or anything else that makes a person sure of their significance.  i have noticed that words of affirmation matter most for me in the work place.  while i do not need a gold star daily, i just like to know that what i am doing is on track and impactful.  luckily for me, my current boss definitely is a words of affirmation kind of guy.  whenever we complete a project or kill it in a meeting, he will say, “kristin, you are a rockstar!” sometimes, he makes up little songs about my awesomeness. it is hilarious.


anyway, the moment you have all been waiting for…


my results:

  • quality time – 12
  • acts of service – 7
  • physical touch – 4
  • words of affirmation – 4
  • receiving gifts – 3


while the focus seems to be on how you receive love, what i have found to be true is that we tend to love people in our love languages.  so for me, quality time and acts of service are incredibly high.  the ways in which i showed love to people whom i loved was by spending uninterrupted time with them, experiencing things like travel and concerts with them,  preparing a meal for them, or doing anything that i thought could make their lives easier.  this rang true for partners, friends and family.  what i realized (both personally and in working with clients) is that sometimes, the recipient may not be feeling all of that love and effort i was putting in.  while spending time with someone uninterrupted is incredibly meaningful to me, for a partner who loved words of affirmation, a simple text that said, “you were the first thought on my mind this morning. have a wonderful day.” changed the course of his entire day.  i, on the other hand, could see that text and not think about it again.  i might even have to remind myself to respond.  that is because that is not my preferred love language.  but because i knew it was his, i made a conscious effort to meet him where he was.  especially when i noticed how he would meet me where i was – quality time until 4am after a night grad class that let out at 9pm or the simple act of making my bed while i showered.  those things that may not stand out to others stood out to me because that is how i receive love. i truly make an effort to meet each of my loves ones where they are.


when i was in san diego a couple of weeks back, the 5 love languages came up.  everyone in the room ended up taking the assessment.  my friend zach had an interesting observation/critique – should there be four separate assessments? one for partners, one for family, one for friends and one for work?  he felt his answers for each of those situations would be different.  what do you think?


how do you receive love?  have you been meeting your loved ones where they are?  are your loved ones meeting you where you need to be met?  i would love to hear about it in the comments below.





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