There are a lot of ways to describe a person and instantly know more about them. For instance: I’m a Myers-Briggs INFP and an Enneagram Type 4. Those two mean that I’m a daydreamer, introverted, and an independent creative. But I’m also a Gemini, and I was born in the year of the dog. That means I’m also loyal, intellectual, and a social chatterbox. Categories like this are undoubtedly useful when you’re first getting to know someone. But the truth is, we’re more than just words. When it comes to developing relationships and interacting with others, there’s one concept I’ve found particularly helpful: Love Languages.
The idea stepped onto the scene in 1992, when author Gary Chapman published his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate and detailed how individuals express and experience love. There are five languages in all: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Touch, Words of Affirmation, and Gifts. Your love language is usually based on how you received love and affection from your caregivers growing up.
To paraphrase Chapman’s words, Love Languages explain how you give and receive love (and in my opinion, how you make each other feel valued). For example, I’m a hardcore QT girl, both giving and receiving. As a result, I really appreciate spending time with others, regardless of what we’re doing. On the other hand, gifts mean next to nothing for me (yes, I find buying presents incredibly stressful because of that).
You might be able to get an idea of what yours is based on how you interact with your love interests. But the love languages don’t stop with your romantic partners — they can be used to connect with your friends and family on deeper levels, too. If you want to get a more precise idea of which ones are yours, you can take the online quiz.
“Instead of trying to find compatibility, you learn to become more compatible.”
Other personality tests and profiles will give you ample insight into how your current or potential partners tick. However, the love languages stand out because they focus on how to act or react in a relationship based on each person’s needs. Instead of trying to put your partner in a box and find the compatibility between the two of you, you learn to become more compatible and, in so many words, speak their language.
I think about love languages so much it becomes a regular part of everyday conversation. Typically, I’m discussing the official five. But sometimes, they’re more specific, ie. the love language that is book recommendations or, you know, noodles. Pay attention to the things that make you feel valued. Then, discover the things that speak to your partner and make them feel the same. Once you learn those, you’ll not only understand each other better but also know what makes you and your Other feel seen and loved.
Obviously, everyone is different. There are good matches and not-so-good matches, and I am no expert in romance. But if you’re on the same page about understanding your love languages, I think a little will go a very long way.