The Five Love Languages is a relatively well known theory that posits that most of us experience feeling loved through one of five possible “love languages.” Online quizzes and assessments abound all over the internet to help you figure out your love language. It can be an amazing tool to help us better understand who we are in our partnerships and other relationships. It was developed for romantic relationships, but can be applied in other types of relationships as well. Overall, it helps us communicate more effectively.
In understanding this, how can we use this theory in a sex coaching practice? This article will discuss where the theory originates from, how it can be used by sex coaches, and includes a breakdown of the five languages.
Where did they come from?
The theory of the five love languages was developed by Gary Chapman in his 1992 book titled “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” It outlines five different ways romantic partners give and receive love with each other. The five languages include physical touch, words of affirmations, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. The theory is that everyone has one of these as a primary and one as a secondary love language. In order to find out yours, Chapman advises you to pay attention to and reflect on the ways you aim to give love. He also encourages looking at the things you most often complain about in partnership.
In his book, Chapman explains that people often give love the way they hope to receive it. We must look within rather than outward to discover how we naturally give love, in order to understand how we best receive it.
This theory can help us avoid breakdowns in communication, and develop deeper understandings of each other in relationships.
How to Use This with Clients
Discussing love languages is a great first step for a couple to begin discovering each other. Ask your clients if they know their own love language, and what they think is their partner’s. This alone can spark some great insight into self reflection and relationship reflection. Ask them for examples, and to state instances where they believe their partner succeeded and when they didn’t.
If they don’t know their love language or are unsure, ask some open ended and reflective questions to get them thinking. Some examples are:
“Think of a time you were just bursting with joy about your partner, what’s your first instinct to do? Touch them? Tell them?”
“When you’re angry or upset with your partner, what is the one thing you wish for them to do?”
Sex coaches love giving homework, so here is some love language themed homework you could assign:
- Have them come up with different “gifts” they could give to their partner for each of the love languages. For physical touch, it could be a massage; for acts of service, it could be making their coffee every morning, etc. If they have trouble coming up with a few, give them some guidance and ideas (more help with this later on in the article). Have them spend the next week exploring these different areas. When they come back, they’ll be able to reflect on the experience.
- If they feel sure about their love languages, have each partner make a masterlist of things that will show their partner they love them in a way that is easily received. Have them spend the next week focusing on doing these things and when they come back, they can reflect with you about anything that came up.
- Have each partner keep a journal, and over the next week start tracking things that they do for their partner when they’re feeling good as well as things they are feeling a lack of in the moment. Bring these little reflections back to the next session to further discuss.
These prompts are given specifically for couples but can be altered for use by single people as a way to deepen a relationship with themselves or their relationships with friends and family.
The Love Languages
To help further develop ideas of your own, the following is a brief breakdown of each love language.
We’ll start with the more concrete of the languages. If your love language is physical touch, you feel loved and held while actually being held! Things like holding hands, kissing, and other forms of physical intimacy make you feel safe, connected, and loved. A lack of these things from a partner might make you feel insecure, shameful, and sometimes even angry.
Words of Affirmations
Words of affirmation as a love language means that you feel loved by being told you are loved! It’s more than just frequent “I love you’s” however, you need ample communication of feelings and you feel seen after long and loving conversations. You might often ask your partner, “what do you love about me?” just to hear some affirming words. The silent treatment might make you feel abandoned and lost.
If your love language is quality time, you feel most connected and loved after spending time with your lover. Everyone’s definition of a great time is different and for “quality time” people, doing things together makes them feel close to and loved by their partner. It doesn’t always have to be extravagant trips or activities, often the need boils down to attention. The key word here is quality, though. If the time is spent disjointed or distracted, it probably won’t feel quality.
Gifts as a love language means you speak the language of material items. This doesn’t always mean grand gestures, but more so thoughtfulness. If you feel seen, connected, and loved when your partner comes home with flowers or something they saw that made them think of you, this might be your love language. These things translate to “I think of you throughout my day and I wanted to show you in this way.”
Acts of Service
If your love language is acts of service, you probably feel loved by being shown. Things like taking chores off your plate, planning things out, or generally lessening your mental load are huge for feeling loved. You probably love feeling taken care of in concrete ways, and the stress of life management could put a strain on your relationship. “Let me do this for you” is music to your ears and makes you feel understood and heard.
Love Languages as a Tool
The theory of the five love languages can be an amazing tool for sex coaches. It can help your clients better understand their relationships and themselves. It can be used as a way to communicate needs and develop a deeper understanding of each other. You can even model it in your interactions with your clients directly; for instance, telling a “words of affirmation” client how proud you are of them.
There are many ways to utilize this theory in your practice. Feel free to experiment and, if useful, add it to your coaching toolbox. You can never have too many tools.