5 Love Languages Every Single Adult Needs to Learn
There are more single adults in the United States than ever before in history.
In 2017, the U.S. census reported 110.6 million single people over the age of 18—that’s 45.2 percent of the American adult population.
Even though these people are unmarried, they still need to give and receive emotional love.
In fact, love is the fundamental building block of all human relationships. It is also the most important ingredient in the single’s search for meaning.
This post contains 5 love languages that will enhance every area of your life.
If you’re single, or know someone who is single, you’re going to learn how to give and receive love more effectively, and build wholesome, supportive relationships by learning to speak other people’s primary love language and better understand your own primary love language.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Love Is To Be Learned
We’re all social creatures. We live in a community, and most people seek social interaction. So it’s safe to assume that everyone has relationships.
The question is: What is the quality of your relationships?
While positive and affirming relationships can bring great pleasure, poor and toxic relationships can cause so much pain.
If you feel loved by your parents, your parental relationship brings you a feeling of comfort and encouragement.
However, if your relationship with your parents is fractured, you might suffer feelings of abandonment, hurt, and maybe even hatred.
The nature of your relationship with your parents has a positive – or negative – influence on all other relationships in your life.
Those who felt unloved by one or both parents, will try to compensate for the emptiness. They might pour themselves into positive pursuits and accomplish their goals, but still are unsuccessful in building positive relationships with other adults.
This is why learning about love will help you build successful positive relationships.
In fact, much of the pain in broken relationships stems from the fact that many of us have never been serious students of love.
Love is something that needs to be studied and learned, as Professor Leo Buscaglia once said:
“Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, anthropologists and educators have suggested in countless studies and numerous research papers that love is a “learned response, a learned emotion.”… Most of us continue to behave as though love is not learned but lies dormant in each human being and simply awaits some mystical age of awareness to emerge in full bloom. Many wait for this age forever. We seem to refuse to face the obvious fact that most of us spend our lives trying to find love, trying to live in it, and dying without ever truly discovering it.”
By learning the five love languages and using them in your relationships, you’ll discover that love has the potential to change, not only individual relationships but also the world.
The Stages of a Romantic Relationship
Most divorced singles were extremely happy and in love when they got married. They didn’t enter with a goal of divorcing.
So what happened?
The answer lies in the misunderstanding most people have about the nature of love and relationships.
In fact, most people believe that love is something that happens to you and that there’s nothing you can do about it. While this can describe the first stage of a relationship, it fails to take into consideration that relationships are never static. They go through a second and more important stage.
Let’s look at the two stages of a relationship.
Stage One: The Obsessive Stage of Love
There has been extensive scientific research done on the obsessive stage of love or the “in love” stage. In her book Love and Limerence, Prof. Dorothy Tennov concluded that the average lifespan of this stage of love is two years.
During this stage, we live under the illusion that the person with whom we are in love is perfect, at least for us. We’re unable to see any flaws in him, even when our friends and family point them out for us. Our differences are minimized or denied altogether.
We believe that nothing else matters and that our love is going to conquer it all.
This stage doesn’t require much effort. One doesn’t work hard to fall in love. It just happens.
Which is true, but only for the initial stage of the relationship.
Wait … There’s a second stage of love?
While most people understand the first stage of love, they usually have no comprehension of stage two or the awareness that there’s a stage two, to begin with.
Most people get married or start living together during the first stage of love.
When the “In love” stage is over, and with no comprehension of the nature of love and how to move successfully from stage one to stage two, more than half of these couples end up in a divorce and more than sixty percent of those who remarry will experience a second divorce.
Stage Two: The Conscious Stage of Love
During this stage, love and passion must be fed and nurtured. It won’t continue to flow simply because you are in a relationship.
When the obsessiveness of the first stage fades, you begin to recognize that there are other important pursuits in life other than pursuing each other.
The differences in personality and interests, you hardly saw before, become very obvious. The illusion of perfection ends and you begin to wonder how you could have been so blind to their flaws.
You begin to focus on yourself and realize that your partner is no longer meeting your needs. You begin to request and then demand, and when your demands are not being answered, you either withdraw or lash out in anger. This pushes your partner further away and you both stop expressing much love.
Can such relationship survive?
The answer is yes!
But only if the couple learns the nature of love and how to express it in a language the other person can receive.
Conscious love is intentional. It requires thought and action. When it is expressed in a language each partner understands, the love will grow and deepen.
You succeed in making the transition from obsessive love to the deep, settled love.
The Right Language
It’s natural for us to express love in our own love language – the language that makes us feel loved.
However, if it’s not your partner’s primary love language, it won’t make them feel loved.
This is why many couples are frustrated. The wife whose primary love language is physical touch is feeling unloved, even though her husband is showering her with words of affirmation.
Five Languages For All Types Of Relationships
Love languages aren’t just for male-female relationships. they apply in all human relationships.
Some single adults never felt loved by their parents, not because their parents did not love them, but because their parents never learned to speak their children’s primary love language.
Other have felt frustrated by long-term friendship in which they or their friends never felt loved or appreciated.
By learning the following five love languages, you’ll be able to speak love and appreciation in a language the other person understands.
Love Language #1: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words have a great influence on personality. Single adults who grew up in a positive linguistic environment have heard words that emphasized the pleasant aspects of life. Others who grew up in a more negative linguistic environment have heard words that pointed out the unpleasant aspects of life. These different vocabularies result in vastly different personalities and behavior patterns.
Having such influence, words of affirmation is one of the five fundamental love languages.
Easy as it may sound, single adults who grew up in a negative linguistic environment might find it hard to learn to speak words of affirmations. For some, this means learning a whole new vocabulary to replace the negative words that flow freely from their mouths.
It’s important to learn words of affirmations, even if it’s not the primary love language of your loved ones. We all enjoy hearing it and lack of verbal affirmation is interpreted as a lack of love.
So, how can we best develop this language?
Even if you didn’t grow up in an affirming environment, you still can learn to love and change your relationships.
Here are some steps to take in order to learn words of affirmation.
1. Start Where You Are
It’s important to acknowledge your present situation.
You are now an adult who might not remember ever hearing his parents say affirming words such as ‘I love you’, or ‘I’m proud of you’, and have few memories of one of his parents making positive comments.
2. Be Active, Not Passive
Until now your approach has been passive.
For years you’ve been telling yourself that it didn’t matter. You’ve been trying to push the hurt out of your heart, while you’ve suffered in silence.
By choosing love, you choose to take initiative and start saying words of affirmation to those you’ve always wanted to receive it from.
The best way to learn love is to practice it.
3. Affirm Your Parents
Start small. The next time you call or visit home, end the conversation – or your visit – by saying ‘I love you, Mom’ or ‘I love you, Dad.’
Repeat this a few times, and then add the words ‘I appreciate what you have done for me through the years.’
Their response doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’re taking initiative to express and learn words of affirmation.
4. Affirm People In Your Job
Including affirming words in your interactions with other people. From time to time, try telling your coworkers the following:
‘Thank you for taking that phone call. You handled it well.’
‘You did a great job with this. Thank you.’
‘The boss told me what you did. Thanks for making me look good.’
Whether they were words of encouragement, words of praise, or simply kind words, everyone enjoys hearing affirming words even if it’s not their primary love language.
This is why you need to start practicing saying words of affirmations every day with everyone you meet.
Related: How To Communicate More Effectively
Love Language #2: GIFTS
Gifts are one of the best ways to communicate love and care. This is why giving gifts is one of the fundamental love languages.
The gifts might only last for a few hours. Other gifts like a rocking chair given by a husband to his wife to nurse their children, can outlive both; the giver, and the receiver.
The important thing isn’t the gift itself, but the emotional love communicated through it.
The Wrong Meaning of Gift
A gift is given as a genuine expression of love, without strings attached.
A gift that is given to cover past failures, ceases to be a gift and simply becomes a deal.
Develop The Language of Gift Giving
The gift can be any size, shape, color, or price. It doesn’t matter if it’s purchased, found, or made. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to have meaning.
“I’m not a gift giver. It doesn’t come naturally for me.”
Acknowledging that you’re not a gift-giver is the first step in learning this love language.
Fortunately, gift giving is an easy love language to learn.
1. Learn Their Interests
Listen to your loved ones. It takes time and conscious choice to listen.
Pick up on their interests or the interests of their children. A gift given to their children can mean as much to them as if they were the receivers.
Find out if they’re collectors. Write down a list of the ideas you hear from them.
2. Be Sensitive to The Nature of Some Gifts
Because of their cost or perceived meaning, some gifts may not be readily accepted by the one you love.
For example, your loved one might not accept an expensive gift that communicates how deeply you feel for them if they have a different idea about the current level of your relationship.
This isn’t to say that they have no interest in you. Obviously they wouldn’t date you if they weren’t interested. But they might not be as far along as you are. They might believe that it’s too early in the relationship to be receiving expensive gifts.
3. Change Your Money Attitude
Every one of us has an individualized perception of the purposes of money.
Some people have a spending orientation. They feel good when they spend money. This group of people usually doesn’t find it hard to speak the love language of gift-giving.
On the other hand, some people have a saving and investing orientation. They feel good about themselves when they’re saving and wisely investing their money. This group of people might resist the idea of spending money as an expression of love.
After all, they’re not purchasing things for themselves, so why should they purchase things for others?
What they fail to understand is that by saving and wisely investing their money, they’re purchasing things for themselves – they’re purchasing self-worth and emotional security.
When you change your attitude towards money, you become able to understand that gifts can be a primary love language for someone you love and that giving gifts to them is the best investment you can make. You’re investing in your relationship.
Love Language #3: ACTS OF SERVICE
In every vocation, those who truly accomplish great things have a genuine desire to serve others. Great political leaders view themselves as “public servants”. The greatest of all physicians see their vocation as a calling to serve the sick. Despite living among the “Me generation”, service to others is still one of the greatest aspirations people have.
Service VS Slavery
People who serve others because they’re forced to do so, lose their freedom to serve and become slaves.
Slavery hardens the heart, creates anger and resentment. And when you treat another person as a slave, you preclude the possibility of love.
Manipulating by guilt (“If you loved me, you would do this for me”) and coercion by fear (“You will do this or you will be sorry”) are forms of slavery.
Service, on the other hand, is given out of choice, not out of fear. It’s an expression of love.
Speaking The Language
For some, this love language comes easily. They grew up in homes where their family often served others in their community, and they themselves were praised when they did acts of service.
As a result, they are more alert to the opportunities to serve others around them.
However, others find this language extremely difficult to speak. Their families might have emphasized everyone fending for himself. They were constantly asked to take care of themselves and figure things out on their own.
Consequently, they are more focused on their own needs and they expect everyone else to do the same.
Even if acts of service don’t come naturally for you, it is still a language worth learning. Helping others is an expression of love and often, “actions speak louder than words.”
The Many Acts of Service
Life is filled with opportunities to express love through acts of service. An older adult might need a ride to the doctor’s office or to church. Another one might need a helping hand to carry groceries.
Here are some ideas to help you learn the love language of acts of service:
- Volunteer at a charity or school.
- Bring your neighbor a meal.
- Clean an elderly’s house.
- Go grocery shopping for someone.
- Help with someone’s yard work.
- Watch kids so the couple can have a date night.
- Tutor someone’s kids.
- Just spend time listening.
Love Language #4: QUALITY TIME
Quality time is about togetherness.
This doesn’t proximity. Two people can be sitting in the same room without being together.
Togetherness is about focused attention and connecting with others. Being in the presence of other people isn’t enough to feel connected. You need to give and receive undivided attention.
Quality time is a powerful expression of love.
But you don’t have to spend the whole time gazing into each other’s eyes. Sharing quality time can simply be in doing something together that you both enjoy.
The particular activity is secondary. It’s only a means to creating a sense of togetherness. What happens on the emotional level is what matters.
Dialects of Quality Time
1. Quality Conversation
One of the best ways to share quality time is to have quality conversation. This simply means sharing your experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a sympathetic, uninterrupted context.
Giving a few minutes of your time communicates love and care. It’s especially true when your primary love language is quality time.
2. Quality Listening
Although quality conversation includes listening as much as talking, sometimes all people need is a friendly ear – someone who’s going to listen sympathetically.
Here are some practical ideas to help you become a sympathetic listener:
- Maintain eye contact.
- Don’t engage in other activities while listening.
- Listen for feelings. For example say to them, “It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because…” this communicates that you’re listening intently and make the other person feel understood.
- Refuse to interrupt.
- Express understanding. Ask reflective questions to confirm or correct your perception of what the person is saying (“What I hear you saying is … Is that correct?”)
Quality listening obviously will take some of your time, but the dividends are worth it. People especially feel loved and cared for when they’re heard and understood.
3. Quality Activities
Quality activities are about being together, doing things together, and giving each other undivided attention.
The emphasis is not on what you are doing, but why you are doing it – which is to be together.
Quality activities make some of the best memories of love, especially for those whose primary love language is quality time.
Looking for creative (and inexpensive) ideas of things to do together with your partner to deepen your connection and love?
“175 Best Date Ideas” is a $9 e-book that will help spark what you had when you first met.
Love Language #5: PHYSICAL TOUCH
Numerous studies show that babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.
And what is true for infants is also true for single adults of all ages.
Physical touch is a powerful communicator of love, and if the person’s primary love language is physical touch, it can speak much louder than the words “I love you.”
By the same token, withhold your touches and doubts will arise about your love. An emotional distance is being created.
Types of Touches
All touches are not created equal. There are many forms of loving touch, and you need to learn from the person whom you are touching what they perceive as a loving touch.
1. Implicit and explicit
A loving touch can be implicit and subtle such as putting your hand on someone’s shoulder as you’re conversing. But it can also be explicit that demands your full attention such as a back rub or foot rub.
Explicit love touches require much more time than implicit ones, but they both communicate love. If the one you care about feels especially loved when given a back rub, then the time and energy you spend giving them a back rub will be well invested.
2. Sensitive Touches
In times of crisis, we tend to hug each other instinctively. This is because in such times, more than anything we need to feel loved.
If someone’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding them as they cry. It doesn’t matter what you say to comfort them. Your physical touch can communicate all the love they need.
Learn to Touch
For some single adults, giving and receiving love via physical touch doesn’t come naturally for them. They have been abused physically and sexually when they were younger. And others simply didn’t come from “touching” families.
These singles need to learn speaking the love language of physical touch.
And the best way to learn is by doing. One touch at a time.
Try hugging your parents every time you see them and say goodbye to them. When you walk with a date, hold their hands. It might be difficult the first time, but it’ll get easier the second time.
The more you practice it, the more comfortable you become speaking the love language of physical touch.
Discover Your Primary Love Language
Out of the five fundamental love languages presented above, each one of us has a primary love language. It’s the language that speaks most deeply to us.
Some singles are able to immediately recognize their own primary love language. Others can find it hard to identify their own.
Two groups of people typically struggle to discover their primary love language.
The first group has always felt loved in their families and has been receiving all the five love languages. They speak these love languages rather fluently, but they are not sure which one communicates love to them the most.
The other group has never felt loved. They grew up in dysfunctional families. They don’t know which love language would make them feel loved because they simply don’t know what it means to feel loved.
The following are some ways to help you discover your own love language.
1. Observe Your Own Behavior
Ask yourself “How do I typically express love to other people?” If you regularly encourage people by giving them words of affirmation, then perhaps that is your primary love language. If you are constantly giving gifts to others, then gifts might be your primary love language and so on.
In other words, you are doing for others what you wish they would do for you. This is why observing how you express your love will help you discover your primary love language.
2. Observe What You Request of Others
Although the majority of people would speak their own primary love language when they express their love for others, some people would speak one love language but wish to receive another language.
This is why you need to observe what you request of others too.
If you find yourself asking a close friend for a hug, then physical touch might be your primary love language. If you regularly ask others to help you with projects, then acts of service might be your primary love language. And so on…
Your requests can reveal your primary love language.
3. Listen to Your Complaints
As with your requests, your complaints (whether expressed verbally or only in your head) can be an indication of which love language is your primary one.
If you complain that your close friend didn’t give you a birthday present, your love language can be gifts. If you complain that your friend no longer has time for you, then your primary love language is likely quality time. And so on…
4. Ask The Right Questions
If you are currently in a dating relationship, asking and answering the following questions will help you discover your primary love language.
“What does the person I’m dating do or say that makes me feel loved?”
Even if you’re not currently dating someone, ask yourself the following question: “What would be an ideal spouse to me?”
Answering these questions should give you some idea of your primary love language.
Which Love Language Is Theirs?
Discovering the primary love language of your loved one is as important as discovering your own. Only when you learn their love language, that you’ll be able to speak it and be an effective lover.
As with discovering your own primary love language, observing your loved ones’ expressions of love, requests, and complaints can give you some idea of their primary love language.
If your friend expresses acts of service to other people, then acts of service might be his primary love language. If your father welcomes you with a hug every time you go home, then his primary love language is probably physical touch. If your date complains that you never compliment them, then words of affirmation could be their primary love language. And so on…
Read More: 5 Basic Emotional Needs of Men and Women
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, © by Dr. Gary Chapman. All rights reserved.