The term “love language” is not a phrase you will find it the Bible. Rather, it’s a term that comes from Dr. Gary Chapman’s book called The Five Love Languages. In this book he describes 5 common ways people receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gifts.
While these 5 categories of how someone will best receive love are not directly stated in the Bible, the Bible does tell Christians to do their best to love people in a thoughtful way (Romans 12:9-10). Therefore, it is wise to gain knowledge about the specific ways someone best receives love so you can do your best in helping them feel loved by you.
Here are 5 ways you can instantly discover what someone’s love language is.
1. How Someone Expresses Love Is Usually How They Best Receive Love Themselves
For better or worse, people generally try to make other people feel the way that they feel. When we eat at a restaurant that we really enjoyed, we recommend it to other people because we want them to experience it. If we watch a great movie, we encourage other people to watch it. If someone hurts us, in sin we often want to hurt them in the same way. Our natural response if someone takes an eye or a tooth is to take their eye or tooth because we want people to feel how we feel (Matthew 5:38).
We can use this knowledge about human nature to discover what someone’s love language is. For example, if someone often uses their words to express kindness, this probably means they enjoy words of affirmation. If someone is very thoughtful around Christmas time when it comes to gift giving, they probably really enjoy receiving a thoughtful gift. If someone makes a lot of effort to make time for you, they probably will best receive love by you making quality time for them.
As Jesus said in Luke 6:31, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” If you want to know what someone’s love language is, observe how they give love.
2. When Someone Is Deeply Offended, the Specific Nature of the Offense Often Points to Their Love Language
You will always know how important something is to someone by how violently they react when that thing gets attacked or neglected.
For example, if a mother hears about her child getting mistreated at school, watch out, because her love for her child is going to cause her to get really mad at whoever is messing with her baby. If someone is threatening a man’s family, that man is going to react violently in defense of his family because he loves them more than anything in this world. If a woman really likes to host, she will be very sad if her party gets cancelled. If a man really likes his classic car, he will be really upset if something happens to it. Even God’s wrath against those who attach his children points to the love he has for his children (Romans 12:19).
Anytime anything bad happens, we all feel bad. But there are levels to our offense. When someone is deeply offended about something in a way that seems out of proportion to the actual offense that took place, oftentimes this is because the opposite of this person’s love language occurred.
If you say something mean to someone who needs word of affirmation, if it appears you didn’t spend much time picking out that gift, if you reschedule your quality time, if you neglect to offer your acts of service when there was a need, or an affectionate physical embrace is rejected – these types of acts will be felt more deeply when someone best receives love in those specific ways.
If you want to know what someone’s love language is, just look at what they get most offended by.
3. When Something Doesn’t Excite Them Like You Thought It Would, Oftentimes This Is Because This Act Is Not Their Love Language
Just as some offenses cut more deeply depending on the person, so too is it true that certain acts of love don’t affect certain people as positively.
Perhaps you spent a ton of time cleaning someone’s house, but when they get home they don’t seem as grateful as you though they would be. Or maybe you spent a lot of money on a really nice piece of jewelry, but then this person doesn’t seem overjoyed. They are happy, but not thrilled like you wanted. Perhaps you planned a whole day where you and this person got to spend a lot of time together. While they enjoyed it, they seemed more interested in just holding hands than spending time together.
When someone doesn’t appear as moved as you would have expected by something you tried to do to show them your love, a lot of times this occurs because you were speaking your love in a langue that doesn’t best suit this person. Many times we only give love in the way that we would want to be loved. But Philippians 2:4 states, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
You can identify someone’s love language by a process of elimination. Try different methods of showing love. When one method doesn’t work that well, this will help you narrow in on the love language this person does best receive.
4. If They Have a Good Relationship with Their Family, Their Family Will Oftentimes Naturally Speak Their Love Language
When someone has a good relationship with their family, their family will be an invaluable resource for you in discovering their love language.
Loving parents, for example, have observed this person from their youth into adulthood. They often know this person better than anyone else and they know how to give just the right expression of love (Matthew 7:11). A brother or sister will know exactly how to make their sibling both happy and mad. Family knows, for better or worse, how to push each other’s buttons.
Even if their family isn’t able to articulate what this person’s love language is, through years of spending time with this person they will subconsciously know how to speak this person’s love language. So if you want to discover someone’s love language, observe what makes this person come alive when they around people who know them well.
5. If You Really Want to Know Someone’s Love Language, Just Ask
When in doubt, just ask! Don’t be creepy by asking someone you don’t know that well, but if you have a growing relationship with someone, it’s completely appropriate to simply ask them what their love language is.
Even Jesus asked people direct questions about how they wanted to be loved by him. As Mark 10:51 states, “And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”