By Justine Fischer, Nursing Student and ThriveAP Contributor

What makes you feel loved? Maybe it’s a kiss from your dog, hearing someone say you’re intelligent, a big bear hug, or when you come home to the dishwasher having been run. Everyone has their own ideas about what actions, behaviors, or words make them feel warm and fuzzy inside. Now buckle up for your crash course on love.


Love languages, yes, they really do exist. A brilliant man named Gary Chapman invented 5 of them under the notion that every person has a primary love language they speak. Here are the languages in the most simplified descriptions (because who has time to read paragraphs anymore)?

  1. Words of Affirmation: A person may feel loved when someone praises them, encourages them, or compliments them.
  2. Physical Touch: A hand on the shoulder, or a hug may be just what someone with the primary language of Physical Touch needs to feel loved.
  3. Receiving Gifts: These people appreciate small tokens and the love language really exemplifies the old adage “It’s the thought that counts”.
  4. Quality Time: People with this love language do not care what they are doing as long as they are with their significant other enjoying their company to the fullest extent.
  5. Acts of Service: Coming home to a loved one that’s done the dishes or taken out the trash is exactly what makes these people feel warm and fuzzy inside.


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You may be wondering how these languages relate to nursing…The idea is that by thinking about patient care through the lens of these love languages, we can better understand as nurses how our patients interpret our caring behavior. The key is staying open to the idea of love languages and implementing/identifying them in your practice. For instance, one patient may feel comfortable and cared for when the nurse held her hand for a moment earlier that day. However, another patient may value the nurse spending a few extra minutes with her just spending quality time (undivided attention). At this point you may think I’m crazy because what nurse in their right mind has a few extra minutes?


Maybe you don’t have extra time, but if you can understand how your patient interprets your nursing behaviors you may be able to develop a better rapport to support their health. Make sure to use a variety of techniques to explore your patients’ love language. What works and what doesn’t work? Did your patient respond to your words of encouragement and feel empowered, or did they roll their eyes? When you brought your patient a piece of candy, did it light up their mood?


Employ these methods to better enhance your patient care. Entertain the idea that as nurses, we may not be trying to save marriages on a daily basis, but we are providing care to our patients, all of whom have different primary love languages. If you’re interested in taking the Love Language quiz for yourself or learning more about the languages you can find the quiz here.

What’s your love language? How does it impact the care you provide your patients?


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