How do you love? (The 5 Love Languages Explained)

There is a blue hand holding a brown hand, a girl with brown skin wearing an eye patch, a women wearing a head scarf, a present, a love letter, a plant being watered and a hand in the rock on gesture.

Written by Carina Gitin

Illustration by Jessica Oddi


Your partner’s birthday is coming up. Do you write them a card, buy them a gift, or take them out on a date - or perhaps a combination? Now flip the script and think about what you would most appreciate most on your birthday? This is the concept of love languages - the way we like to give, receive, and express love.

Love languages were first articulated by Dr. Gary Chapman in the book  “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts”, the idea being that taking the time to understand your love language, and that of your significant other, leads to better communication and ultimately better relationships. According to Dr. Chapman, the 5 love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gifts, and physical touch.


Words of affirmation

These are verbal expressions of love, and can be as simple as saying ‘I love you’ or ‘thank you’. Give compliments, praise, and encouragement freely and frequently to those who like to receive love in this way, but choose your words wisely as insults can hurt your partner deeply if this is how they perceive love. After conflict, always apologise by saying you’re sorry.

Acts of service

If this is your love language, you believe that actions speak louder than words and show love through gestures of kindness. This can include running an errand, cooking a meal, or making a coffee for your loved one - essentially anything to lighten their load.

Quality time

Quality time isn’t just about hanging out; it’s about giving your partner your full and undivided attention. Take your partner out to dinner, spend the weekend away together, or make the effort to take an interest in a hobby of theirs… and make sure to switch your phone notifications off.


Giving gifts as an expression of love goes so much deeper than materialism. There’s no need for extravagance, and simply surprising your loved one with their favourite treat will go a long way. It’s the thought and effort that makes your partner feel appreciated and signifies to them your love and care.

Physical touch

Do you feel most connected with hugs, kisses, and holding hands? Then this is your love language. Use body language and touch to build intimacy in your relationship.

So, how do you show love? How do you like to receive it? It’s also possible to identify with more than one. Knowing your love language helps you to understand yourself and to better articulate your emotional needs. As everyone experiences love differently, it’s easy to project our love language onto others and not show them love in the way that they need it. Love languages go beyond sexual and romantic relationships too and can apply to friends, family, and all other areas in your life. Still not sure? Take the quiz to find your love language here!


Jessica Oddi (@oddi.jessica) is a disabled graphic designer in Canada with versatility to spare. She is particularly interested in collaborations involving much needed representation, inclusivity and empowerment


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