Issue #06 |May 2006

Live consciously. Create a life that you love. Attract the loving relationship that is "right" for you.

Today’s Topic: Love Languages

Dear friends,

I read a wonderful little book recently, that has given me some new ways to think about love and the many ways I like to express it and receive it.

The book is called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Although intended for couples, the ideas he shares can also apply to other relationships in which we aspire to be more loving - our children, friends, family members and even co-workers.

I hope this article about love languages will provide you with some new ways of looking at your relationships, so that you are inspired to 1) let others know how you like to receive love and 2) express love to others in a way that makes the biggest difference to them.

Shirley Vollett, BSW
Life & Relationship Coach

Something to think about…


If we are to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other's desires. If we wish to love each other, we need to know what the other person wants.

-Gary Chapman

What is YOUR Love Language?

Which of these expressions of love from a "significant other" would appeal to you the most? (You may enjoy all of them, however which one or two would most warm your heart?)

Do you love to be surprised with an unexpected gift?

Do you enjoy cuddling on the couch or exchanging foot rubs when you watch TV?

Are you thrilled when a loved one cooks you dinner, washes your car or runs an errand for you?

Do you light up when you're told how handsome/beautiful/intelligent/ talented/giving you are?

Does it make your day if your loved one sets aside time to share with you, giving you their undivided attention?

How you ranked these options can tell you a great deal about your preferred "love language".

What IS a love language?

Simply put, your love language is the way that you express love and feel loved. Your love language is composed of the actions and behaviours through which you express love AND the actions and behaviors of another that cause you to feel loved.

In his book, The Five Languages of Love, Gary Chapman identifies five distinct love languages, which he observed over many years of counseling married couples. He identified these languages by continually asking himself the question: What keeps love alive and vibrant over many years?

He observed that many couples complain they feel unloved by their partner. Often both spouses think that they ARE expressing love to their partner. However, for some reason, it isn't being felt or received by their spouse.

So what is going on here?

I think the couples Chapman saw are fairly typical. I think many of us, long to feel more cared for and appreciated by those we love. Conversely, many of us have felt frustrated or misunderstood, in our efforts to express love to a partner. Have you ever picked out the "perfect" gift or designed a "special" evening, only to receive a lukewarm reception?

The problem may lie in the fact that couples are often speaking different love languages. According to Chapman, we all have a primary "love language", just like we all have a primary spoken language. However, individuals in a relationship may not share the SAME one! While one partner is expressing love in his or her own way, the other is simply not "hearing" it.

So what are the 5 love languages that Chapman identifies?

1. Quality Time

If Quality Time is your love language, you enjoy spending time with a loved one in meaningful ways. This could include any number of activities, from talking over a glass of wine to spending play-time at the beach. What is important is that you are doing something together and are giving each other your complete and undivided attention.

2. Words of Affirmation

If Words of Affirmation is your love language, then you affirm your partner with words of praise, comfort, appreciation and encouragement. You use words that build your partner up. Likewise you feel loved when your partner compliments, appreciates and encourages you verbally.

3. Acts of Service

If Acts of Service is your love language, you like to do things for your partner to make their life easier and more comfortable. Perhaps you like to make their favorite meal or get their car washed for them. You enjoy doing things to help them out, and you feel loved when they do things that are helpful to you.

4. Gift Giving and Receiving

If Gift Giving and Receiving is your love language, you take pleasure in intuiting the gifts that please your partner and gifting them with these. You like to give things that symbolize your love and let your partner know that you are thinking of them. You love to receive gifts (they needn't be costly) and you accept them joyfully.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch includes, but is not limited to sexual intercourse. If Physical Touch is your love language, you enjoy touch in many forms and expressions. Stroking, massage, holding hands, hugging, affectionate squeezes are just a few of the many expressions you may enjoy giving and receiving. Touch is a deeply reassuring expression of love for you.

Can you see how the options you selected at the beginning of this article, each correspond to a love language? It's also important to remember that within each love language, there are numerous different "dialects". Each of these languages can be expressed in an infinite number of ways.

Why do we fail to notice our differences in love language?

The type of love language we have will be influenced by our childhood experiences of love and caring. I think we often believe that our love language is the ONLY love language - or certainly the BEST one. If our partner doesn't express love to us in OUR language, we may assume he/she doesn't care or is insensitive. We may not realize that we need to be responsible for communicating HOW we like to be loved, to our partner. Instead, we slip into blame.

At the same time, we may assume that our partner likes to receive love in the same way that we do. And we are mystified or hurt, when our expressions of love are not appreciated or received as enthusiastically as we would expect. Again, we can take responsibility for finding out what our partner wants - rather than feel rejected. These love language distinctions of Chapman can help us do that.

I think many couples share at least one love language, or they wouldn't be attracted to each other. My husband and I share a mutual desire for Quality Time, so we are both committed to making it a priority. Through discussing these love languages, I've learned that Words of Affirmation are also very important to my husband. I'm realizing that I need to give him more verbal encouragement and appreciation than I might need. Similarly, Acts of Service are very important to me. So my husband is expanding the ways he helps me out.

The Platinum Rule

It may not be totally natural for us, however as an act of love, we can choose to learn another’s love language. The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I recently heard about the Platinum Rule, which says, “Do unto others as they want to be done unto!”

If we wish love to grow and sustain over time, we will want to increase our fluency in the love languages that matter to our loved ones. The more we can love our partner/child/friend in the way they deeply desire, the happier and more loving they will be in return.

Invitation to action

Clarify your preferred love languages. Think about a past relationship and list your answers to the following questions:

What did your partner do that you most appreciated?

What did your partner fail to do that was hurtful or disappointing to you?

How do you like to express love to a partner?

Mark each item according to which of the 5 love languages it belongs. Then share this exercise with a friend or partner and notice your similarities and differences.

Shirley Vollett, BSW is a Life & Relationship Coach who loves to support and encourage singles in their quest to have a satisfying, successful life AND relationship.

Shirley offers Get Ready For Love! A Program for Singles. Clarify your vision for your life & relationship. Then strategize how to make it happen. Read more at www.shirley.vollett.com/singlesgetready.htm.

Contact shirley@vollett.com to receive your free Relationship Readiness Review or book a free introductory coaching session. Visit www.shirley.vollett.com for all of Shirley's coaching services.

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Copyright © 2006 by Shirley Vollett.
All rights reserved.



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