Understanding that we are loved and that the love we communicate to those closest to us is felt can be the most rewarding and deeply profound experiences in life. The idea of “love languages” was first developed by Gary Chapman, who identified five main ways that people mark the communication of love—quality time, words of encouragement, acts of service, physical touch, and gift-giving. Popular culture has since often identified more niche or humorous forms of love languages, but the core idea remains the same: oftentimes, the way that we perceive evidence of love is different from the person with whom we are in relationship. The study of love languages calls upon us to notice, communicate, and give to our partners love in a manner that is truly felt and seen.
The concept of the “love languages,” then, is a gentle reminder of something that is at once obvious and easy to forget: Not everyone experiences the world in the exact same way that you do. Not even your partner.
Though originally written for married couples, its concepts have proven applicable to families, friends, and even coworkers. The premise is simple: Each person gives and receives love in a certain language, and speaking it will strengthen that relationship.