How to Harness the Power of the Five Love Languages?

How to Harness the Power of the Five Love Languages? by Michali Friedman, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LCSW-C

What is the five love languages theory?

The Five Love Languages is a theory developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, to help couples understand and express love effectively. His book "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts" suggests that people have different ways of giving and receiving love, and understanding a partner’s love language can greatly enhance relationships. It has since become widely popular and applied in various counseling practices, workshops, and self-help resources. 

The theory is not backed by extensive scientific research. Rather, it is based on Dr. Chapman's observations and experiences as a marriage counselor. However, it has still resonated with a massive audience and has been embraced as a useful tool for improving relationships.

The five love languages can be helpful for someone struggling in an intimate relationship because it provides a framework for better communication, understanding emotional needs, resolving conflict, and helping personal growth. 

So, what are the five love languages?

Words of Affirmation:

This love language involves using verbal or written words to express love and appreciation. It includes compliments, words of encouragement, appreciation, and expressing love through thoughtful and empowering words.

Acts of Service: 

This love language focuses on showing love through actions rather than words. It involves doing helpful and thoughtful things for your partner, such as completing tasks, chores, or acts of kindness that make their life easier. For example, if a partner has a hard time taking out the trash, taking care of that chore for them shows genuine care for them.

Receiving Gifts:

This love language centers around the giving and receiving of tangible items. It's not about materialism but rather about the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. Meaningful and thoughtful gifts can make people who relate to this language feel loved and appreciated.

Quality Time:

Quality time refers to giving undivided attention and spending meaningful time together. This love language emphasizes the importance of shared experiences, engaging in activities, and deepening emotional connection through quality conversations and focused time spent with each other.

Physical Touch: 

Physical touch is all about the power of physical contact and affection in expressing love. It includes hugging, holding hands, kissing, cuddling, or any other form of physical intimacy that can make partners feel more connected, loved, and secure. 

In the context of the five love languages theory, physical touch primarily refers to non-sexual forms of affection and intimacy. It encompasses gestures such as holding hands, hugging, cuddling, gentle touches, or any other physical expressions of love and connection. The emphasis is on the emotional and comforting aspect of physical touch rather than sexual activity.

The nuances within the five love languages

The concept of love languages, like linguistics, can have different dialects or variations within each language. While the five love languages provide a general framework for understanding how partners can express and receive love, people may have unique preferences within each love language.

For example, within the love language of words of affirmation, one person may particularly value verbal praise and compliments, while another may appreciate more specific and detailed words of affirmation, and a third may appreciate words that display understanding, even if that can mean some loving constructive criticism.

Similarly, within acts of service, one person may feel loved when their partner takes care of practical tasks, while another may find greater meaning in smaller, thoughtful gestures.

These variations within love languages can stem from personal preferences, past experiences, or individual interpretations. Understanding and adapting to these dialects is essential in building effective communication and meeting a partner’s emotional needs.

Just as different dialects in language can coexist and be understood, it is important for partners to learn and respect each other's unique expressions and interpretations within their preferred love language. By recognizing and accommodating these dialects, couples can foster a deeper connection and a more harmonious relationship.

How do I know my love language?

To identify your dominant love languages, start here: 

  1. Begin by reflecting on moments when you felt deeply loved and appreciated. Consider the specific gestures or actions that made you feel that way. 
  2. Next, observe how you naturally express love to others and note how you instinctively show care and affection. Pay attention to what actions or behaviors from others make you feel most loved and valued. Reflect on the emotional needs you seek to fulfill in relationships. 
  3. Finally, consider taking the love languages quiz, available right here online, for additional insights into your dominant love language. This self-reflection process will help you gain awareness of your preferred way of giving and receiving love, leading to improved communication and a more fulfilling relationship.

While most people can relate to all five love languages, you will typically find that you have one or two dominant languages that resonate best with you. These dominant languages are the ones that will make you feel most loved and fulfilled. Understanding and recognizing your dominant love language enables more effective communication of your needs.

How can I harness my love language to show love to myself?

 Let’s explore some practical examples within each love language for self-care:

Words of Affirmation:

  • Write positive affirmations and gratitude notes to yourself.
  • Practice kind self-talk and positive self-reflection.

Acts of Service:

  • Prioritize self-care activities and take care of tasks that contribute to your well-being.
  • Engage in volunteering or acts of service within your community.

Receiving Gifts:

  • Treat yourself to small gifts or create a self-care package with items you enjoy.
  • Celebrate personal milestones or achievements by rewarding yourself.

Quality Time:

  • Schedule alone time for self-reflection or engaging in activities you love.
  • Plan outings or day trips to explore new places or revisit favorite spots.

Physical Touch:

  • Practice self-massage, and relaxation techniques, or use weighted blankets for comfort.
  • Treat yourself to a spa day or indulge in soothing baths with aromatic oils.

Does my love language remain the same forever?

Our love language preferences can often evolve and shift throughout life. Changes in circumstances, personal growth, and new relationship dynamics can influence how we tend to receive and express love. For example, someone who previously identified with words of affirmation may find that physical touch becomes more significant after experiencing a period of emotional isolation.

Remaining open to the possibility of change and adaptation in our love languages is crucial. It allows us to be flexible and responsive to the needs of ourselves and our partners. By continuously exploring and reassessing our love language preferences, we can foster healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

Understanding that love languages are not fixed and can evolve over time empowers us to be more attuned to our own needs and adaptable in meeting the needs of our loved ones. It creates space for growth and continued exploration of how we give and receive love.

The effects of trauma or neglect on our love languages:

Trauma and neglect can have a significant impact on our perception and experience of all Love Languages. They can cause us to respond extremely positively or negatively towards specific languages that aren’t necessarily the ones that we relate to best. For example, physical trauma can distort our view of physical touch. When someone has experienced trauma or neglect related to physical touch, it can create complex emotions, fear, or discomfort associated with this love language. We can explore our boundaries, learn to trust again, and gradually reintegrate positive and consensual physical touch into our lives.

Addressing and working through trauma is a crucial step in understanding and embracing one's actual love language. Trauma can create barriers to our ability to connect with others and accurately identify our emotional needs. By engaging in therapy or trauma-informed support, we can gradually heal and rebuild a healthier relationship with our preferred languages.

It is essential to approach this journey with patience, self-compassion, and professional guidance. Healing from trauma takes time, and the process of discovering one's love language may vary for each individual. What's important is to prioritize personal well-being and emotional safety throughout this healing process. You can make use of OKclarity’s database to access therapists and coaches with experience within the Jewish community to help you work through trauma.

By addressing and working through trauma, we can create a foundation of healing that enables us to explore and embrace our actual love language, allowing for more authentic and fulfilling connections with ourselves and others.

Is it OK if my potential partner doesn’t relate to the same language as me?

Having different love languages in a couple can present challenges, but it's not necessarily an issue. Understanding and respecting each other's love languages through open communication and empathy can lead to a more harmonious relationship. It requires effort and willingness to adapt. Embracing different love languages can enhance the relationship by bringing diversity and variety to expressions of love. Seeking professional help may be beneficial if there are significant disconnects or difficulties in meeting each other's emotional needs. 

How can I encourage my partner to express their love in my language?

If your significant other has expressed that they are unable or unwilling to meet your needs in a particular love language, there are steps you can take to address the situation. Firstly, if they don't know how to fulfill your needs, you can provide guidance and teach them. Communication plays a vital role in helping your partner understand what actions or behaviors make you feel loved and appreciated.

In some cases, it may be helpful to "feed the lines" or provide specific examples and suggestions for how your partner can express their love in your preferred love language. This can help them better understand and practice the actions that will resonate.

However, if your partner refuses to make an effort or is unwilling to try meeting your needs within your love language, consider couples therapy. A trained professional can facilitate communication and provide guidance to work through any challenges or conflicts in a relationship. Couples therapy can offer a safe space for both partners to express their concerns, understand each other's perspectives, and explore strategies for meeting their emotional needs. Here are some of the top Jewish relationship and couples coaches and therapists.

It's important to approach these situations with patience, empathy, and a willingness to work together to find solutions that foster a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

My Love Language is Receiving Gifts. Does That Make Me Shallow or Materialistic?  

Gift-giving may sometimes be perceived as superficial, but it's absolutely not! Gifts have the potential to hold deep meaning and significance. The true value lies in the thought and intention behind the gift rather than the material item itself. 

By asking individuals about their love language, we can gain insight into how they truly feel loved and appreciated. For some, receiving gifts might be their primary love language, and a thoughtful present can deeply resonate with them, making them feel valued and cherished. However, for others, a gift may not have the same impact, and while they may appreciate the gift, they may feel more loved through one of the other expressions.

 By engaging in open and honest conversations about love languages, we can uncover the specific actions and gestures that make individuals feel truly loved. This understanding allows us to tailor our expressions of love accordingly, ensuring that our efforts are more meaningful and aligned with their emotional needs.

That was a lot!

What is my takeaway from all this?

The Five Love Languages theory has taught us the power of understanding and expressing love in ways that resonate with our hearts. Through this journey, we have discovered that love is not a one-size-fits-all concept, but rather a unique and beautiful dance between individuals.

By embracing the love languages, we have unlocked a deeper understanding of ourselves and our partners. We have learned to speak the language of love, nourishing our relationships with heartfelt words, thoughtful actions, quality time, meaningful gifts, and tender touches.

As we continue on this path, we can approach each day with renewed enthusiasm and a commitment to applying these lessons. Let's celebrate the joy of giving and receiving love in ways that ignite our souls and strengthen our connections.

Remember, love is a journey, and each step we take to nurture ourselves and our relationships brings us closer to a future filled with love, happiness, and fulfillment. So let's keep learning, growing, and loving with open hearts, knowing that our efforts are shaping a future of love and connection.

This article is loosely based on a conversation held by Michali Friedman on the OKclarity Instagram page. It was adapted for print by Moishy Bassman. You can watch the full conversation right here:


Let us know if this was helpful to you by dropping a comment down below.

Thanks for being part of our movement to make the Jewish community happier, healthier, and more whole. You're a rockstar. 

About the author

Michali Friedman, LCSW

Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LCSW-C

Embrace Yourself. Embrace Each Other. Embrace Life.

  • 🥇 Empowering
  • 💙 Warm
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  • 💡 Solution-oriented

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