We all know the emotion of love; it’s nice to feel loved and to be able to express love, but did you know that there are different love languages, and therefore different self-love languages too? Love is a primary human need, it is essential for emotional health. Humans are pack animals and at the most basic level, we are all connected. We need to be reminded of this connection in order to thrive.
According to Dr Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, there are five love languages, and learning to speak them is as important as learning to speak at all. The love languages are a communication tool, a way to communicate and connect with another person, or with yourself.
The 5 love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gift
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
As we grow up and go through life’s positive and negative experiences, we become conditioned in certain ways, develop particular belief systems, and go through various traumas. The sum of these experiences decides our priorities, our values, and therefore our love language. As we grow and change in our adult life, our values can change and so can our love language.
French or Russian?
Have you ever noticed that you have made a lot of effort to show someone that you care about them, but they didn’t even notice? Or maybe someone has made a lot of effort to show you some love, but you just didn’t pick up on it? Communicating in a person’s specific love language is essential if you want them to really feel loved. You also need to know your own language in order for anyone else to express their love for you effectively. Otherwise, it’s like a French speaker trying to talk to a Russian speaker; the message simply won’t be understood. And there are many different ways to speak in the same love language, almost like dialects. The possibilities are endless!
The 5 love languages explained
Below is a description of each love language, its positive expression, negative things that speakers of this language feel most hurt by, and a list of examples. Use these descriptions to work out your own love language and some examples of how you can best show yourself some love!
Words of Affirmation – “Say what you mean and mean what you say”
Positive Negative Sincerity False Compliments Insults Words of appreciation Criticism Words of encouragement Discouraging words Kind words Hurtful words
- Saying I love you
- Telling them why you love them – most important!
- Notes of appreciation and love
- Telling others how great that person is
- Loving text messages
- Acknowledging achievements
- Public appreciation
- Verbal compliments
Acts of Service – “Actions speak louder than words”
Positive Negative Anything to make their life easier Making more work for them Spontaneous = better Needing to ask Acts need to go beyond expectations Consistency can lead to expectations Unique Same
- Doing the dishes
- Washing their car
- Running errands for them
- Fixing things around the house
- Helping them with a project
- Sacrificing what you want to do for them
Gift Giving – “It’s the thought that counts”
Positive Negative Sentimentality Meaningless Intention Buy a gift for another that you want yourself A genuine expression of love An effort to cover up a mistake or buy affection Surprises! Missing anniversaries/milestones Effort Convenience Shared experiences and personal time Thoughtless
- Engagement ring
- Trinket of something important to them
- A memento from a date
- Their favorite treat
- Trip to a place they have always wanted to go
- Anything they have ever talked about wanting
- The gift of yourself
Quality Time – “Being present”
Positive Negative Focused attention Attention elsewhere (phone or movie) Set aside time Random free time in the schedule Pre-planned Cancellation of a previous plan Mentally present Distracted/not listening Affectionate Distant Prioritising Postponing or cancelling
- Going for a walk together
- Talking about your day
- Meeting for lunch
- Taking a weekend trip
- Pre-planned thoughtful date
- Family vacation
- Quality conversation
- Gardening together
- Working out together
- Cooking together
Physical Touch – “Necessary for everyone”
Positive Negative Accessibility Inaccessible/neglect Intimacy (not sex) Abuse Physical presence Physical absence
- Holding hands
- Sexual intimacy
- Playing with hair
- Rubbing feet
- Any reassuring touch
Having read the descriptions, your love language might be jumping out at you. Each person has a primary love language, followed by a mix of the others. For some, it might not be so clear. If in doubt, take the test: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/.
Your self-love language
When we talk about self-love, it is also important to know your own love language so that you can make the most out of your self-care practices. To really feel the benefits of a self-care routine, you need to make sure you are communicating to yourself in the most effective way possible. We have already talked about joy creation. The aim is to enjoy and improve your relationship with yourself, so let’s make sure you are speaking your own language!
Have a look at the examples below for each love language. Come up with some detailed and specific ideas of things you can do to spoil yourself in your own love language. This will really speak to your subconscious and increase your level of self-love!
Words of affirmation
Giving yourself pep talks and encouraging yourself:
- Positive self-talk
- Daily affirmations
Acts of service
Doing or arranging things for yourself that make you feel good:
- Acts of kindness
- Going out
Treating yourself by purchasing or making things that make you happy:
- Craft supplies
- Comfy clothes
- Little gifts
- Investing in yourself
Spending time alone, hobbies, and doing things that you love:
- Hobby/creative time
- Taking yourself on dates
Things that make your body feel good or focus on your physical being:
- Soft blankets
- Physical activity
- Spa days
- Skincare routine
Knowing your self-love language is so important if you want to improve your relationship with yourself. Your mind and your body pick up on your thoughts and how you treat yourself. If you haven’t been kind to yourself in the past, it might feel strange to start prioritising a self-love practice. But the more you introduce kind and loving acts to yourself, the more integrity and trust you will gain with yourself. And you are the most important person in your life.
Self-love is about prioritising your needs so that you can not only recharge, but fill yourself up so much that you have extra to spare. How can you look after others if you don’t look after yourself first? It can be as easy as cooking a meal, taking a bath, or treating yourself to a massage. Find out what your self-love language is, and schedule some YOU time. And be sure to have fun!