Love Languages

Words by Maggie Zhou
Art by Jessie Liu

I’m someone who is invested in horoscopes, is an avid BuzzFeed quiz doer and who won’t turn down a Myers-Briggs analysis. You might say I formulate my identity based on rushed-out listicles and strategic emphasis on sweeping labels and generalised character traits. I would agree with you on that.

So, when I first heard of ‘love languages,’ my interest was piqued. A neat categorical system that unpacks the five different outputs of love? Count me in.

Long gone are the days where chocolate and roses will sustain
a relationship. Romance doesn’t run on a simple equation. It’s not some family recipe you can dish out over and over again. Love,
as a concept, is difficult to define. Almost all individuals will conjure up a different image — from a tight hand hold, to a nuclear family, to knowing someone’s favourite coffee spot, so it makes sense that we’d all experience love in unique ways.

The idea of having love languages originated in Gary Chapman’s 1992 book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. There, he outlines five ways to express and experience various forms of love — words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

Words of Affirmation

Sweet nothings mean everything to those who cherish words
of affirmation. Like someone who developed an attachment to their high school English teacher would say, words are important. Chiding aside, hearing verbal expressions of love is the ultimate form of care. It’s not just saying “I love you”, it’s any personal and genuine compliment that makes them feel seen. So, say it loudly, say it proudly, and say it with your whole chest. Because your partner is there to listen.

Acts of Service

Actions speak louder than words, or at least for those who value acts of service. Practicality runs in the veins of these folk — vacuuming, mail collection, volunteering to be designated driver? Enough with the dirty talk. It’s more than letting your significant other do all the hard work, it’s about them being in tune and proac- tive to your needs. Alleviate pressure, help with mundane tasks and lighten the responsibility of your partner to show you care.

Receiving Gifts

Don’t confuse gift lovers with materialistic and shallow beings — but I’ll forgive you if Britney’s “Gimme More” springs to mind. It’s not about the price tag or how flashy a present is. This love language values thoughtfulness and effort above all else. Don’t make the mistake of missing an anniversary or birthday; laziness and stinginess do not fare well with this type.

Quality Time

Like Netflix and chill, but without the Netflix. Or a dinner date, without the distracted scrolling on your phone.
Or a D&M without tomorrow’s to-do list at the back of your mind. Quality time is about being there — really being there. Basically, I’m saying bathe me in that complete undivided attention, baby. Set aside meaningful dates and chats for these partners to truly feel loved up.

Physical Touch

No, this love language isn’t accompanied by a smirking emoji, you cheeky thing. Unsurprisingly, intimacy manifests itself in a myriad of ways — it’s not just about getting hot and heavy (though that’s included). You can find these touchy-feely types with interlaced fingers, in embraced hugs, and giving thoughtful touches on one’s head, shoulders, knees and toes (if you’re into that). Though seemingly unconscious, these physical reassur- ances foster a feeling of security in relationships.

Are there only five love languages us 7.8 billion people all supposedly subscribe to? I think the answer to that is beside the point. All these languages have something— or everything — in common. The end goal here is to try and care for your special someone in the best way possible; It’s about putting in that extra effort to under- stand their likes and dislikes, their quirks and desires.

So go on cupid, you’ve got this.

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