Say that your love language is gifts, and you often surprise your partner with thoughtful gifts. How does it make you feel when they just have a quick look at your thoughtful present? Meanwhile, your partner hardly values gifts but appreciates acts of service. It would mean the world to them if you did chores around the house instead of buying gifts. Is your partner feeling loved?
In 1997, Gary Chapman wrote a book with Ross Campbell, MD, about how the five love languages can apply to children as well. In it, he describes methods of observing which love language your child may resonate with. There is also a quiz that a parent can take on behalf of their child. It is available on the Five Love Languages website.
The easiest way to determine your partner's love language is to have them take the quiz. You could also consider what they ask for or do most in a relationship. Do they frequently bring you thoughtful gifts? Or tell you they love you? This could be a hint as to what their love language might be.
You may express affection to your significant other regularly, but do you truly take the time to make sure you're communicating it the way your partner wants to receive it? Even love can sometimes get lost in translation when two partners speak different love languages.
The five love languages are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Not everyone communicates love in the same way, and likewise, people have different ways they prefer to receive love. The concept of love languages was developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, where he describes these five unique styles of communicating love, categories he distilled from his experience in marriage counseling and linguistics.
"We all may relate to most of these languages, but each of us has one that speaks to us the most," marriage and family therapist Sunny Motamedi, Psy.D., tells mbg. "Discovering you and your partner's primary love language and speaking that language regularly may [create] a better understanding of each other's needs and support each other's growth."
People with words of affirmation as a love language value verbal acknowledgments of affection, including frequent "I love you's," compliments, words of appreciation, verbal encouragement, and often frequent digital communication like texting and social media engagement.
People whose love language is quality time feel the most adored when their partner actively wants to spend time with them and is always down to hang out. They particularly love when active listening, eye contact, and full presence are prioritized hallmarks in the relationship.
"This love language is all about giving your undivided attention to that one special person, without the distraction of television, phone screens, or any other outside interference. They have a strong desire to actively spend time with their significant other, having meaningful conversations or sharing recreational activities," Mahmud-Syed says.
If your love language is acts of service, you value when your partner goes out of their way to make your life easier. It's things like bringing you soup when you're sick, making your coffee for you in the morning, or picking up your dry cleaning for you when you've had a busy day at work.
"This love language is for people who believe that actions speak louder than words. Unlike those who prefer to hear how much they're cared for, people on this list like to be shown how they're appreciated. Doing the smaller and bigger chores to make their lives easier or more comfortable is highly cherished by these folx," shares Mahmud-Syed.
Gifts is a pretty straightforward love language: You feel loved when people give you "visual symbols of love," as Chapman calls it. It's not about the monetary value but the symbolic thought behind the item. People with this style recognize and value the gift-giving process: the careful reflection, the deliberate choosing of the object to represent the relationship, and the emotional benefits from receiving the present.
"People whose love language is receiving gifts enjoy being gifted something that is both physical and meaningful. The key is to give meaningful things that matter to them and reflect their values, not necessarily yours," says Mahmud-Syed.
People with physical touch as their love language feel loved when they receive physical signs of affection, including kissing, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, and sex. Physical intimacy and touch can be incredibly affirming and serve as a powerful emotional connector for people with this love language. The roots go back to our childhood, Motamedi notes, some people only felt deep affection and love by their parents when they were held, kissed, or touched.
To find your type, read the following statements and mark the ones that deeply resonate with you. Filter it through: How do you show love? What do you complain about in a relationship? What do you request or actively need from your partner on a day-to-day basis? The one with the most statements you resonate with is your primary love language. If two or more languages are tied for first place (which is common!), use the process of elimination and work your way down the list until you are left with one or two languages that you are not willing to part with.
Chapman analyzed the results of 10,000 people who took his online quiz in 2010 and found words of affirmation was the most popular language but by a thin margin. In 2018, dating app Hinge analyzed their app and found the most common love language was quality time, by far.
"I personally believe it also depends on gender, culture, customs, and values," Mahmud-Syed notes. "Certain love languages which are prevalent in the West are much less common in non-Western cultures. For example, in my South Asian culture, directly praising someone is very uncomfortable and often not well received. Instead, praising that person to a third party is more highly valued when they hear about what you said about them through the grapevine. Also, public display of affection between spouses or romantic partners is also a major taboo."
For example, you might love words of affirmation, but your partner places a premium on quality time and touch. As a bid for connection, you might text him sweet nothings all day and think you're great at expressing love; meanwhile, he might be wondering why you're never interested in spending time cuddling on the couch together at night and may actually be feeling unloved because of that. See how it's easy for disconnection and resentment to enter the picture? By determining our primary and secondary love language preferences, it can be easier to give each other what we innately crave.
Fast-forward to the present day, almost 30 years from the book's publication. As popular as the concept is, many people have since pointed out problems with the love languages. Some people can use the love languages theory as a sort of personality test, despite the fact that Chapman's whole point is that we're supposed to adapt ourselves to our partner's love language, not demand they use ours.
Indeed, recent research revealed couples being aligned with each other's love language wavelength doesn't exactly mean it makes a successful and happy relationship. Couples who shared the same love language weren't happier than the couples who had differing styles, suggesting mastering fluency over the love language system and adapting it based on what the partner needs at the moment is more valuable than solely relying on a dominant love language type.
"It promotes codependency and prevents partners from developing autonomy and authenticity," Motamedi adds. "A relationship is a place for transformation and growth. When we limit each other with a specific love language, we do not allow room for change."
The broad concepts, which lean on its practical simplicity, can also feel too simplistic since it's not completely inclusive of sexuality, culture, trauma, and intergenerational differences in nuanced communities. There needs to be an understanding that human relationships are a complicated reflection of their childhood wounds and attachment style, Motamedi points out: "I believe that once the person heals the wounds of their past relationships and develops a healthy attachment style, their love language also changes."
In general, it's important not to use love languages as a universal salve to remedy issues. It's clear we need more skill sets than those in our tool kit to face problems that may exist below the surface of our relationship.
Meanwhile, passages combining still images and voiceover from Bethel recount memories about the former lover. Throughout, the filmmaker's mother phones him to critique and ridicule her son's unusual project. Describing his collaboration with Bethel in an interview with the Mexican newspaper Reforma, Leplay said, "The first thing I asked him was, 'how spontaneous were these auditions?' And far from being acted, they were quite natural. There wasn't a specific script, but that's how the story came about."
Now characterized it as "a bold, brave look at intimacy, honesty and the power dynamics that exist both in interpersonal relationships and between artist and subject." Point of View Magazine noted that Acts of Love "is a thoughtful study of love and heartbreak, but ultimately a celebration of savouring the encounters that define us throughout our journeys." Now, Yohomo, and The Queer Review included the film on their lists of Hot Docs festival recommendations. The film received press throughout its festival run, including from Il manifesto, Lifo, Cult MTL, and WCPT.
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