Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? First outlined by marriage counselor Gary Chapman, this revolutionary concept is based on a simple premise: different people receive and express love in different ways. In Chapman’s own words, “My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.” Understanding this concept will enable you to exchange support more easily within your families, friends, and greater communities. Here are the 5 love languages and what they entail:

  1. Quality Time. By far the most common love language, quality time means giving your partner your undivided attention. This can be as simple as listening to how their day has been, or learning how to cook a new dish together. Avoid scrolling on Twitter while your partner is talking, or cancelling date night plans last minute— this can hurt your partner significantly, and make them think that you value other things over them.
  2. Words of Affirmation. If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, they feel the most loved when they’re receiving compliments or encouragement. Phrases like “that outfit looks amazing!” or “I love you” can go a long way in your relationship. On the other hand, hurtful comments can be detrimental, and your partner will be affected by them more than the average person.
  3. Acts of Service. This love language entails simple and intentional actions that you know your partner will appreciate. Perhaps this means taking out the garbage before they ask you to, or cleaning up after dinner. The key for this love language is that it should be voluntary, and done out of love with your partner’s best interests in mind. Don’t confuse this with actions done out of obligation or out of spite.
  4. Gift Giving. Gift giving is a little different than acts of service— this calls for giving your partner thoughtful gifts on special days, like anniversaries or birthdays, and also on regular days, as surprises. It doesn’t have to mean breaking your bank either— sometimes, the most appreciated gifts can be a handwritten card, or a cookie from their favorite bakery.
  5. Physical Touch. Human touch is a universal expression of love. If this is your partner’s love language, then being there for them physically is just as important as emotional support. This doesn’t necessarily mean outlandish PDA, but small gestures, like holding hands or comforting your partner with a hug will make your partner feel cared for and loved.

Love is a crucial component of making any type of relationship thrive, whether it be romantic or platonic. Love empowers, encourages, rejuvenates, and secures us. Unsurprisingly, as social creatures, giving and receiving love and support in healthy and stable relationships are so important, but often overlooked, for our mental wellbeing. It can help us manage stress, as well as help decrease depression and anxiety. Knowing how to love others, and communicating on what makes you feel loved is important in maintaining mental well-being and keeping on top of your mental health.