According to cult-favourite self-help author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five ways we communicate and interpret love — called our love languages. It’s been over 20 years since he introduced these languages, but we’re still talking about them (and even referring to them as the bible of relationship theory). They are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Of these, you’re supposed to have a primary and secondary way you like to love and be loved — your ‘love language.’ You can take this quiz to see what yours is, but I think most millennials will know what their love language is based on one thing: your relationship with your phone. Here’s my updated version of Gary’s love languages.
Your love language is ‘words of affirmation’ if:
You totally believe communication is the #1 key to success in relationships. For you, texts, calls, and conversations are the ultimate opportunity for relationships to reach their full potential, and it’s a hands-down deal breaker if your partner is bad with their phone. Maybe you have vivid memories of being hurt by words or callous texts; never fail to come up with nicknames based on quirky verbal exchanges; and place a high importance on actually saying “I love you.” If this is you, always lead with questions if you feel something’s funky, and don’t make assumptions.
Your love language is ‘acts of service’ if:
For you, actions speak the loudest. It’s the best when your partner runs an errand for you or helps you with something without asking. Dealbreakers are flakiness, lack of punctuality and when actions and words don’t align. At the end of the day, texting and calling is a means to an end. If your communication gets you to where you need to be, which is together IRL, everything’s cool. Help your partner help you by letting them know that mundane tasks are enhanced by their presence. Ask them to join. They’ll get it.
Your love language is ‘receiving gifts’ if:
You have distinct memories of missed anniversaries or birthdays or underwhelming gifts, and/or treasure creative, thoughtful gifts you’ve been given in the past. You place a high importance on surprises that make you feel seen — thoughtful texts and voicemails included. It’s a token, a symbol that you’re being thought of and cared for. If hearing your partner say they have something for you makes your heart swell — over, say, having them offer to do your laundry, gifts are your thing. Remember: you get what you give. Translate an inside joke to a gift and see what happens.
Your love language is ‘quality time’ if:
Undivided attention is what makes you feel most loved. If your partner has a bad habit of checking their phone mid-conversation, or straight-up leaving the room to take calls, it’s a dealbreaker. For quality-timers, putting the phone down is no small factor in the success of your relationship. You may have been hurt in the past by partners who weren’t there for you, or shortchanged your hangouts for other priorities. Make a point to schedule and plan dates and trips and dream big about experiences you can share together.
Your love language is physical touch if:
For you, physical intimacy, from hand-holding to sex, is nuanced and intentional, and tends to be the ultimate “check-in” of your relationship. For people whose love language is touch, body language speaks volumes. If your partner’s hands are on their phone more often than they are on you, it’s a problem — it suggests their mind is somewhere else. You would rather know your partner is physically attracted to you and mentally drawn to you at any given time, than have him or her show up with a gift, for example. Pro tip for touchers: Don’t underestimate the healing power of massage.
With all this in mind, if you and your partner’s love languages don’t align, your knowledge of how you both operate will help you find ways that make sense in your partnership to keep the fires a ’burnin. Also: check out how to attract your perfect partner, according to a relationship therapist.