When it comes to knowing how we like to be loved, many people lean on love languages as a way to communicate the way they give and receive love to their partners.
The concept, which was created by author Gary Chapman and explored in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, outlines five general ways romantic partners express and receive love, ranging from words of affirmation and acts of service to physical touch, quality time and receiving gifts.
Since the book’s publication, love languages have been dissected at length, with many discussing its importance in romantic relationships. But with dating and relationships constantly shifting – especially in this social media driven age – how do love languages hold up today?
“Love languages are a tool to decode emotions,” says dating app founder Leila Muhaizen. “People want to feel understood and appreciated in their relationships, and learning love languages helps us express affection in ways our partners truly value.”
“People love them [love languages] because they lend insight into their personalities,” adds relationship expert and author, Sarah Intelligator. “Our love languages reveal things to us about ourselves that we may or may not have realized. We look back on our childhood and our past relationships and think, “Oh, wow. That all makes sense now.”
The impact our chosen love language has on our love lives can be huge – and according to both Muhaizen and Intelligator, knowing what you and your partner’s love language is matter a lot to a relationship in different ways.
“If your love language is words of affirmation, but your partner keeps showering you with gifts, it’s like speaking Arabic to someone who only understands English,” shares Muhaizen. “Knowing each other’s love languages builds a stronger connection.”
However, Intelligator says its important to remember that love languages are only an element of your relationship. “Love languages are one very small piece of the puzzle,” she says. “They are important, in that they can determine whether two people communicate effectively and show love to one another in a compatible way. But there is so much more that contributes to the success of a relationship than love languages.”
While love languages are an important factor of an a relationship, like Intelligator says, they’re not the be all and end all when it comes to communication – and dating someone with a different love language from you doesn’t mean impending doom.
“If you take the time to learn your partner’s love language and you care enough to speak to your partner in their love language, then it’s possible for it to still work,” advises Intelligator. “At the same time, this takes effort and, quite often, with time, people in relationships stop making the effort.”
Dating someone with a different love language can be a challenge – but as people grow, they may find that their way of giving and receiving love changes too, presenting an interesting dynamic where you may find that your or your partner’s love language evolves over time.
“Love languages shift as we grow older and our priorities change,” says Muhaizen. “When you once appreciated gifts, you now value a quiet evening together. Open communication is key and it’s likely that both partners experience the change simultaneously as they go through life together.”
Whether you’re dating someone with the same or different love language as you or you find your love language changing over time, it’s important to remember that honing in on your communication skills and being open is at the heart of it all.
“Honesty and open communication is essential to the health of any relationship,” says Intelligator. “You should absolutely share the way in which you want to be loved with your partner. The right partner will show love in his or her own way, but also in the way that most resonates with you.”