top of page

Love Languages: What Are They?

Updated: Feb 14

Author: Gill Jackson

Date First Published: June 2022

Reviewed: February 2024

Do you ever notice that it feels like you and your partner speak different languages? Ever feel unloved and not appreciated? Or maybe they tell you that they don't feel loved or appreciated, but you know that you love them and do appreciate them? If this is the case then it's likely that you are speaking different love languages.

Two hands creating a heart shape

Perhaps you are lucky enough that your partner completely understands you and knows exactly how to make you feel loved, special and heard. Fantastic if that is the case, however you may still come across challenges within other important relationships. Close friends and family members may speak different love languages to you and that can also lead to tricky situations and misunderstandings.


What are the 5 love languages?

Our love language describes how people both receive and express love in relationships.

According to Gary Chapman author of the extremely popular book The Five Love Languages they are:

  • Words of Affirmation - Saying supportive and kind things to your partner, offering reassurance where they need it.

  • Acts of Service - Doing helpful things for your partner, things you know will make their life a little easier.

  • Receiving Gifts - Giving your partner gifts that tell them you were thinking about them, often this is small token gifts.

  • Quality Time - Spending meaningful time with your partner, making time for each other.

  • Physical Touch - Being close to and caressed or embraced by your partner.


Which love language do you speak?

In a relationship, do you feel more loved when your partner:

  • Tells you, "I love you," or praises something you did?

  • Surprises you with a meaningful gift?

  • Plans a trip for just the two of you?

  • Runs the errands or does the laundry?

  • Holds your hand while you're walking?

Answering these questions could give you a hint as to what your love language might be. You could also try to recall the sorts of things you ask for in a relationship or consider how you express love to your partner.

Your partner's love language might not be the same as yours. When couples have different primary love languages, there are bound to be misunderstandings. However, if your partner learns to speak your love language (and you, theirs), they will likely feel loved, appreciated, and, ultimately, happier in the relationship.

There are various online tests you can do to work out your own love language (and that of those closest to you) but we can often tell within our complaints. For example;

  • If you complain that your friends or family don’t have time for you, then your primary love language is likely to be quality time.

  • If you grumble that all your friends forgot your birthday because only one gave you a gift, then your love language is likely to be receiving gifts.

  • If you complain that your partner is always buying you gifts but rarely hugs and kisses you, then we can assume that receiving gifts is their love language and physical touch is yours.


Why are love languages important?

Knowing your partner's love language and letting them know yours is a way to help you both feel loved and appreciated. Our love languages if used correctly can make us feel amazing, loved and appreciated. If used incorrectly they can really wound us very deeply.

If, for example, a close friends was judgemental of you and their words deeply hurt you we could safely assume that words of affirmation is your love language. We feel so much more (be that positive or negative) when the message is delivered in our preferred love language.

Two swans creating a heart shape with their necks

Chapman uses a metaphor of an emotional tank that we use to bank the love we receive from others. Love languages are the means by which we fill others emotional tanks and assure them of our continued and lasting love.

These languages are especially important when we move past the euphoric feelings of love that characterise the start of any romantic attachment.

We can't change our love language it's just part and parcel of who we are but we can be mindful of it both in ourselves and others.

Listen to your own complaints and those of the people closest to you it should reveal yours and their love languages.

By learning to give love in the ways that your partner can best receive it, and by asking your partner to give love in the ways that you can receive it, together you can create a stronger relationship and spread a little (or even a lot) of love.


When sorry seems to be the hardest word

We each have a language of apology (just like our love language). So say sorry in the wrong way for them and the person you are saying sorry to might not really hear your apology.

Scrabble letters spelling please forgive me

Do you ever get frustrated that you have apologised what feels like a hundred times and they're still mad at you? Perhaps you aren't saying sorry in a way that person "hears" it, so change tact. Knowing there are different apology "languages" can help you apologise to others more effectively. Plus figuring out how you like to receive apologies can help you to move on from future conflicts more quickly.

According to Gary Chapman and Jennifer M. Thomas, the authors of The Five Languages of Apology these are the 5 languages of apology;

Expressing Regret - the simple act of saying "I'm sorry." While it sounds obvious enough, many people allow pride or guilt to get in the way of this kind of apology. Along with saying the words "I'm sorry," Thomas says this type of apology involves listing the hurtful effects of your actions and showing remorse. "It doesn't count if someone is only sorry that they got caught," she writes on her blog.

This may be your apology language if:

  • You want someone to acknowledge the hurt they caused.

  • You want someone to genuinely express that they regret their actions.

  • You want to feel validated in your emotions.

Accepting Responsibility “I was wrong”- occurs when someone earnestly admits they were wrong. Along with acknowledging your fault in the situation, Thomas says to name the mistake so it doesn't ring hollow. "Note that it is easier to say 'You are right' than 'I am wrong,' but the latter carries more weight," she notes. The person should be able to explain what they did wrong and why it was wrong.

This may be your apology language if:

  • You want someone to take ownership of the hurt they caused.

  • You want someone to clearly state what they did wrong, to prove they can learn from the mistake.

  • You don't want to hear excuses.

Making Restitution “What can I do to make it right?”- finding a way to correct the situation. This is a common apology scenario if something is lost, broken, or damaged and the apologiser offers to replace the item or pay for the inconvenience. It can also occur in more serious situations if a person is deeply betrayed, and the person who did it makes it up to them.

This may be your apology language if:

  • You want someone to prove they're willing to correct the problem (i.e., put their money where their mouth is).

  • You find it important that the perpetrator "makes things right again," whatever that might look like.

  • You want someone to take the lead in a situation

Genuinely Repenting “I’ll try not to do that again” - this requires a change of behaviour. With this apology language, saying sorry is not enough. "Engage in problem-solving. Don't make excuses. Make a better, specific plan for change," Thomas says. There should be a sincere drive to do better.

This may be your apology language if:

  • You need proof that someone is growing and working toward change.

  • You need assurance that you won't be let down the next time around.

  • Words aren't enough for you.

Requesting Forgiveness “Will you please forgive me?”- this allows the other person time to process their hurt before assuming everything is back to normal. Saying "I'm so sorry for letting you down. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?" places the power back into the hands of the hurt party. While most people won't refuse an apology altogether, it does leave room for them to make exceptions, including the need for repentance or restitution.

This may be your apology language if:

  • You're not quite ready for reconciliation yet.

  • You need more from the apology and want the space to ask for it.

  • You need to know the person apologising is willing to wait until you're ready.

A toy cat looking angry


Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, Diploma in EFT, CIPD, SMACCPH

Bio: I am a Therapist/Psychotherapist, Accredited Mentor and Teacher in private practice in the UK, qualified since 2007. Working with adults and young adults. I specialise in Anxiety Disorders and Depression.


This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.

Images used with permission from Wix and Unsplashed.



Gary Chapman and Jennifer M. Thomas, The Five Languages of Apology

Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page