The INSIDER Summary:
• Relationship counselor Gary Chapman says there are five “love languages.”
• Knowing your love language will help you communicate with your partner.
Though the book was written in 1992, it continues to help couples today in 2016. Everyone from bloggers to The New York Times have written about it, and it’s been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 11 million copies in English. It’s even referenced on reality TV shows like the “Bachelorette.”
And though the heteronormative wording in the book may now be outdated, Chapman’s advice continues to be useful to couples who attend his counseling sessions, not to mention the people around the world who buy his book.
So what are the “Five Love Languages”?
Chapman told INSIDER he spent over a decade taking notes with couples he was counseling and realised there was a pattern of people misunderstanding each other and their needs.
“I continued to hear similar stories over and over again where one of them would sit in the office and say, ‘I feel like he doesn’t love me’ or ‘she doesn’t love me.’ And then the other one would say, ‘I don’t understand that. I do this and this and this. Why wouldn’t you feel loved?'”
After poring over his notes, Chapman identified five so-called “love languages” that people may respond to. These include:
- Words of affirmation or verbal compliments or cues that make your partner feel appreciated.
- Quality time or spending time with and focusing on your partner.
- Receiving gifts or giving visual symbols of love.
- Acts or service, from household chores to doing things your spouse would appreciate.
- Physical touch or physical affection.
Essentially, if you “speak” this love language to your partner, it will make them feel loved and appreciated, and therefore happier in the relationship.
“I was not dogmatic to say there were only five, but those were the five I discovered and I haven’t really discovered a number six yet,” Chapman told INSIDER. “I had one guy who said, ‘I think the sixth language is chocolate.’ And I said well, if they bought it, it’s a gift, if they made it, it’s an act of service.”
Most interestingly, Chapman says these languages also apply to parent-child relationships as well as your relationships in the work place and with friends (though your love language may be different depending on the setting).
How do you find out what your love language is?
In Chapman’s book as well as on his website, there is a quiz couples can take to discover what their love language is. Some people, Chapman says, will know what sort of behaviour they primarily respond to immediately while others may need to take the quiz to know for sure.
“There’s no question that any one of those [languages] can communicate love and not many people are going to back away from them,” Chapman told INSIDER. “But the concept is that one of them typically will speak more deeply to you emotionally than the other four.”
Essentially, while most of these things are what most of us want in a relationship, there will be one that you may need more than the others and is necessary to your emotional wellbeing. And though Chapman does say jokingly that some people could be “bilingual,” in his experience, everyone has a primary love language they respond best to.
What happens after you know your partner’s love language in a relationship?
After you know your significant other’s love language, either by taking the quiz or talking about it, Chapman says you should immediately start putting it into practice.
So if your partner’s love language is physical affection, reach out and hold their hand while walking together. If it’s gifts, perhaps your partner would appreciate a memento of your time together. The key is to start somewhere, even if you’re starting small, and do it often.
And though it might sound silly, Chapman says he’s received lots of positive feedback from couples who credit his method with saving their relationship.
“[During group counseling sessions], I’ll have half a dozen couples come up to me over the course of the day and say, ‘We were really almost at the door of divorce and someone gave us your book and we read it and it was like the lights came on,'” Chapman said. “I think that almost everyone agrees, the deepest emotional need we have as humans is the need to feel loved by the significant people in your life.”
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