What Do You Want for Valentine’s Day? Using the 5 Love Languages as a Decoder

 In Relationships

I remember a conversation with my carpool partner back in graduate school.  She was sharing with me how she’d told her new boyfriend that she would like candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day.  My reaction at the time was to think, Wow! Is she ever shallow and demanding!

Now I believe she was actually very smart. Instead of making him guess what she wanted or expecting him to read her mind, she specifically told him what would make her happy and feel loved.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, long-time marriage counselor, we may differ in how we give and feel love and appreciation compared to the other people in our lives. He is the author of the famous 5 Love Languages book. Dr. Chapman lists the different languages as:

  • Words of Affirmation – These people feel the power of words whether they are messages of appreciation, compliments, or statements of affection.
  • Acts of Service – In this language, actions speak louder than words. They feel love and appreciation when others do something nice for them, such as helping out, making dinner, cleaning, fixing, etc.
  • Quality Time – People who prefer this language greatly value the time others spend with them. This doesn’t mean just being with someone, but actually sharing in an activity or conversation and having someone’s full attention.
  • Receiving Gifts – This was most likely the language of my carpool colleague mentioned above.  She felt loved when other people gave her things, big or small. It made her feel special and let her know that others cared for her.
  • Physical Touch – These people feel a connection through touch. We’re not just talking intimate touch, but also everyday physical connections, like hand-holding, a touch on the shoulder, or any type of re-affirming physical contact.

I like to think of these 5 love languages as a decoder to help us take the mystery out of what the people (especially our loved ones) really want from us. What a terrible misunderstanding if we think we’re showing how much we care by our acts of service, but the other person’s love language is words of affirmation and we don’t ever share our feelings out loud. Despite our intentions, they may not feel loved. This approach is true not only for our partner, but also for our kids, other family members, and even friends and coworkers.

Think back to a couple of times when you felt really loved and cared for. What was the situation? Which of the 5 languages was being used? Share this insight with the people in your life.


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a positivity speaker, trainer, author, and founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to teaching organizations and individuals the power of positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.

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