The way we express love and receive it differs from person to person, because of a concept known as love languages.
Sometimes, in spite of our best intentions, we struggle to make our partners feel loved. Gestures that would touch us fall flat with them, and we end up feeling unappreciated while they feel misunderstood.
Meanwhile, the reverse also occurs – you might find yourself telling your partner that you don’t feel cared for, and they might reveal that they’ve been trying really hard to show their love.
The two of you have simply been talking at cross purposes.
This is where the concept of love languages comes in. Originating in the work of therapist Gary Chapman, love languages help us understand what we need in order to be happy in a relationship.
They are the way that we express love and perceive love. But what exactly are the five love languages? And once you know your partner’s, how can you use it to improve intimacy and communication? This article to love languages will help you get started.
What Is My Love Language?
Before you start thinking about love languages, it’s important to note that people tend to give love the way in which they prefer to receive it.
So, once you know your own love language, you’ll be better able to tell others what you need.
You might be wondering “Can a person have more than one love language? How many love languages can a person have?”.
The answer is that most people have a dominant love language.
However, some people tie between two love languages or get very similar scores for several.
A good idea is to reflect on a time where you truly felt loved by someone, what did they do?
Doing this might reveal and be a good indication of what your dominant love language is.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the five love languages.
The 5 Love Languages
So, what are the 5 languages? They are as follows:
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
You might already have an intuitive sense about what these mean and which one applies to you, but it’s worth carefully exploring all five before making a final call about your love language.
Words Of Affirmation Love Language
If your love language is words of affirmation, you feel most cared for when someone verbalizes their feelings and tells you what they appreciate about you.
You’re sensitive to whether such compliments are genuine, and you feel good about yourself (and your partner) when affirming words seem heartfelt.
You need to hear your value stated outright, and without positive affirmations for love you will feel under-appreciated.
It’s likely that you also tend to express your own love in words, but someone with a different love language may not give these words as much weight.
If you’re confident that your partner’s love language is words of affirmation but you’re not sure how to speak to them in this language, one helpful exercise involves writing down 10-20 things you like and enjoy about them.
This can range from their innate traits to things they do for you, the way they make you feel, and special memories that you like you to reflect on.
Generally, a sentence that takes the form “I love it when you do ____ – that’s so thoughtful” will land well with this person. However, it’s hard to go wrong – just speak from the heart about what you love.
Examples Of Words Of Affirmation
- Well done/I am proud of you.
- I’m here for you.
- Thank you for looking after me.
- I regret/I’m sorry for…
- I love you, need you, want you.
- You mean the world to me/You are the love of my life.
- I don’t know what I’d do without you.
- You’re doing great—don’t give up/I believe in you.
- I know how tough things have been lately.
- I feel blessed to have you in my life/You are my best friend.
Acts Of Service Love Language
If your love language is acts of service, you’re much more about “doing” than “saying”.
You feel like your partner really loves you when they do chores for you, help to organize events or fix broken things. In other words, you feel valued when the other person takes away some burden or stress from your life.
This might involve taking over more than their fair share of parenting duties, completing a task you’ve been dreading, or ensuring that everything in the house works well.
People with this love language often think that anyone can say complimentary or flattering things.
Showing that you’re willing to work hard to help someone is what proves that there’s a foundation of love.
If you don’t value acts of service to this extent but think that this might be your partner’s love language, pay close attention to the daily things that make them unhappy or anxious.
What could you take over? How could you help them relax and have more time for themselves?
The more acts of kindness you perform to make their life easier, the more loved they are likely to feel.
Examples Of Acts Of Service
- Prepare dinner or help in the kitchen.
- Doing chores.
- Make tea/coffee in the morning.
- Amend something broken.
- Ask – “can I help you?”
- Plan a date.
- Ask if they need anything or if they want something specific when getting up.
- Help with something without being asked.
- Pick up their favorite snack from the store.
- Cover the bills.
Quality Time Love Language
For those with a quality of time love language, the emphasis is on ensuring that loved ones schedule meaningful time together.
If this is your love language, you’ll feel cared for when your partner makes time to go on dates with you, enjoys planning day trips and holidays, and gets excited about trying new things with you. In contrast, if you only see your partner briefly (for example, at the end of the workday), you’ll begin to feel taken for granted and like something is lacking in your relationship.
If quality time is your partner’s love language and yet it doesn’t rank so highly for you, you might find it hard to see why it matters so much.
For example, you might compliment them every day, and feel perplexed by why they aren’t happy.
Direct communication helps to meet the needs of someone with the quality time love language – in other words, simply ask your partner what they’d like to do with you, and devote your energy to brainstorming a list with them.
Often, just carving out specific time for the person also goes a long way toward making them feel loved – think of a weekly date night, for example.