Can Your Love Language Change Over Time?
Academics have noted differing communication styles for a while, but qualifying those styles as “love languages'' is a relatively new structure.
Love languages is a term first coined in 1992 by Gary Chapman, a relationship counselor and pastor, in his book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” The book has performed well since its release, earning a spot on the New York Times bestseller list every year since 2009.
Breaking down the complicated nature of relationship communication into five, easily digestible concepts has made understanding ourselves just a little easier. It also gives us a way to more clearly express what we need to our partners.
Five love languages
So, what are the love languages? Chapman wrote in his book that there are five ways we express and experience love:
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Receiving (or giving) gifts
Note that while some people will associate themselves with just one of these languages, many people identify with more than one.
Curious individuals can take one of numerous online quizzes to help discover their love language; the assessments range from a few questions to intricate tests. When I took my quiz years ago, its algorithm told me that I primarily express love in words of affirmation and receive love in physical touch.
At the time, that sounded pretty accurate. However, as I’ve gotten older, my relationships have changed, and I don’t know if that answer wholly rings true today. While I still mostly show my love through words of affirmation, especially supportive statements and compliments, I’m not so sure my receiving style is still the same.
People & love languages change
As much as I appreciate physical intimacy, I don’t think that part of my relationships is still the cornerstone of how I receive love. When I was younger, sure, physical touch told me that I was loved and worthy. But now I wonder: Was that built on my youthful need to be reassured that my partner found me physically attractive? If I felt down about my body or gained five pounds, my partner’s embrace told me that I had nothing to worry about—and I felt loved.
Now, in my late 20s and in a long-term relationship, I would say my love language has shifted toward acts of service. I feel loved when my partner cleans the dishes after I cook dinner. I feel loved when he gets my phone, because I’ve already lain down and feel too tired to get back up again. I feel loved when he makes me coffee.
As you settle into a relationship, you might find that your needs change, too. Just as sex sometimes gets less frequent, so might the need for that physical reassurance. That’s true for me, at least. You might find that your need for receiving love through physical touch gets stronger and, unlike me, it might have nothing to do with insecurities. However, it’s worth digging into and finding out why you identify with one style and why it has perhaps changed.
As your circumstances and priorities shift, your love language might evolve as well. Embrace the transformation, and enjoy the fact that we get the privilege of giving and receiving love if we so choose.