In the spirit of expressing love this February, we want to know: What do you love most about 2021 so far? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you show it?

If all the staying home in recent months has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes wires get crossed, and messages are miscommunicated. Do the people around you not seem to get that you washed all the dishes so they wouldn’t have to, focusing instead on how you never compliment their grocery run outfits? 

That’s because there are different ways of expressing and receiving love, and your preferred way of “speaking” love might not match up with the way they best “hear” it. This is called love language, and there are five of them. 

1. Words of Affirmation

Hearing warm, supportive things from the people around you can be very meaningful. If you feel most loved when someone shows they’re paying attention and takes the time to offer genuine compliments, praise, or thanks, Words of Affirmation might be your love language. 

Example: “2021, I love you.”

2. Quality Time

Spending meaningful time with people can mean anything from heart-to-heart conversations, to working together to complete a jigsaw puzzle, to rearranging your schedule to make sure you have time to hang out together. If you feel most loved when you have someone’s undivided attention or share special moments together, Quality Time might be your love language. 

Example: Wake up early to sit with the last moments of the nighttime, taking in the glory of the sunrise and sitting quietly with the majesty of it. 

3. Gifts

It’s the thought that counts. A surprise vase of cut flowers to brighten your home on a gloomy day, a special bottle of Pinot to commemorate that time you drank that same vintage with an anniversary dinner, or remembering that jacket at the store they liked and ordering it to give them for their birthday months later really show a lot of thought and care. If you feel most loved when giving or receiving tokens of affection, Gifts might be your love language. 

Example: If you keep a bullet journal, present every month with the gift of art on your monthly calendar pages. 

4. Acts of Service

Sometimes all you need to brighten a stressful day is someone offering to take a chore off your plate without having to be asked, or remembering they promised to take out the trash this week, or pouring you a glass of your favorite wine because they know you’ve had a long day. If you feel most loved when someone comes through and proves that you can rely on them, Acts of Service might be your love language. 

Example: Remind friends, family, and coworkers what day of the week it is, so all the days feel appreciated. 

5. Physical Touch

Holding hands, hugging, and a pat on the back all act as a physical demonstration of the connection between two people. If you feel most loved when embraced by friends and family, or when cuddling and sharing the same wine glass on the couch with a partner, Physical Touch might be your love language. 

Example: Turn the pages on your monthly wall calendar regularly.

Not sure what your primary love language is?

Your primary love language is whatever makes you feel the most cherished, supported, and happy. In the example given at the beginning of this post, getting the dishes done is your way of speaking love through Acts of Service, while the other person wants to hear love in the form of Words of Affirmation; the message is not necessarily lost, but it’s definitely muffled. 

Whether it’s with a partner, family member, or childhood best friend, being aware of the other person’s love language (as well as your own) can be vital to communication and building strong relationships. 

Most people can speak and hear all of these love languages at least a bit, but there’s always one that speaks to you the most. It might take some soul searching to figure out yours, but here are some quizzes to help you get started.