Scenario one: your spouse or friend gives you a gift, you're not a huge fan of receiving presents, and you don’t think much of it. Scenario two: the same person tells you that outfit looks great on you, and it really makes your day.

Would it be because words of affirmation, rather than receiving gifts, is one of your love languages?

The five love languages concept has been popular since the early 1990s, when American marriage counsellor George Chapman released his million-dollar-selling book of the same title. Every person has a different love language, or a way of giving and receiving love, according to the book. These ways are: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and giving or receiving of gifts.

So how reliable is this idea in practice? One psychotherapist told BDG Media that the book’s approach to communication is not based on clinical research, yet he had seen how it had been helpful in assisting couples in their relationship squabbles.

Let’s see how each one works, according to psychology magazine Psychreg.

Words of affirmation are expressions of love through written and verbal messages given to each other that express support, appreciation and encouragement.

Quality time is spending meaningful time with a loved one, sans TV or phone distractions. This can make those who have this love language feel loved and prioritised. Making connections is key, such as talking about something that interests the other person, or participating in one of their hobbies.

Acts of service is a non-verbal type of love language, where you do things that your friend or spouse would like, such as cooking their favourite food, or doing housework. The tasks can be tedious, but can be well worth it if they appreciate it. They can work out pretty well for the doer as well. Neurobiologists found that doing selfless tasks can activate a reward centre in our brain, promoting selfless behaviours - hope it’s true.

Giving and/or receiving of gifts is the most common love language, of how we give and receive love. It doesn’t matter much about the gift itself, according to the book, but instead highlights the fact you are showing someone love, and that you are thinking of them.

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