If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know it takes time and patience to learn how to love another person in a way they respond to. It also takes time for another person to learn how to love you well. Not everyone will appreciate a back rub or love letter as much as the next person. The trick is to learn what makes your partner swoon.
Many relationships are filled with unnecessary stress simply because a couple isn’t loving one another in the best way possible. We all receive and show love in different ways, and these various ways are known as our love languages. Learning about your own love language as well as your spouse’s will equip both of you to work towards a happier, healthier partnership. You’ll come to understand one another better and likely have more grace for your partner as well.
This all being said, love languages don’t only apply to romantic relationships. You can benefit from knowing love languages in a friendship or parent-child relationship as well, among others. For more parenting tips that can be useful to pair alongside love languages, check out BetterHelp. They have a fantastic base of parenting articles and advice. Once you know more about the usefulness of love languages, you can begin to apply them to different aspects of life; then, sit back and watch as hearts soften, and affection grows.
The Five Love Languages
There are five main love languages. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. One love language is not better than the others, they are simply different.
Sometimes the way someone receives love looks different than how they show it. For example, you might show love through giving extravagant gifts but receive it through someone giving you a hug. Once you learn about all five love languages, you can rank them in order of most to least important. You’ll find that you likely use all five throughout the day but to varying degrees.
1. Physical Touch
Physical touch includes any non-verbal communication that you use to express your love for another person. It can include holding hands, kissing, hugging, making love, or putting your arm around their shoulder. Some people are very averse to physical touch while others need it to feel secure in a relationship. Intimacy is important in any relationship, and you should always respect your partner’s boundaries when it comes to touch.
2. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation describe any phrases used to affirm, encourage, or reassure. If you like hearing how much you mean to someone or feel like you need regular reassurance in your relationship, words of affirmation might be one of your top love languages.
Examples include sending a random text of encouragement, writing love letters, leaving behind sweet notes, or sending a card in the mail. Words of affirmation can be written or spoken; both are often just as meaningful, though some may feel that hearing the phrases out loud make it more impactful.
Giving gifts is just as it sounds. Whether you’re preparing an extravagant gift or buying a small trinket that made you think of your partner, the thoughtfulness behind it is just the same. Gifts are all about showing the other person that you are thinking about them. If you’re on the receiving end of a gift, be sure to express your gratitude; your partner likely puts a lot of thought into it if gifts are one of their top love languages!
4. Acts of Service
Performing acts of service are all about doing things for your partner to take away a burden or alleviate stress from their daily to-do list. This could look like doing chores around the house, running important errands that are time-consuming, or helping them out when their car breaks down on the side of the road. People who receive love through acts of service want to know you’re there for them when they need it most and want to feel that the relationship is a team effort.
5. Quality Time
Quality time means spending time with someone in an intentional, uninterrupted manner. People who value quality time don’t want you to be scrolling on your phone during lunch or watching TV while eating dinner. They want you to be actively listening and paying attention to them alone, without any other distractions. Try to plan weekend getaways, special dates you know they’ll love, and choose activities that you know your partner will enjoy.
Discovering Your Love Language
Many people can figure out what their love languages are just by reading descriptions. However, you can also go online and take a love language test if that’s easier for you. It is just as important to know your own love languages, and in which order they fall, as it is to know your partner’s. It may be hard to convince some people of the usefulness of love languages, but couples have the chance to be happier when they do utilize them.
Using Love Languages
Once you know the love languages that you and your partner subscribe to, it’s time to put them to good use. Remember that showing and receiving love are two different things. Successfully using love languages will require that you consider how you show affection towards your partner, but also how they can best show that they love you in a way you’ll understand. If you’re constantly leaving sweet notes behind for your partner but ignoring their requests for a weekend getaway, consider that they might still feel unloved even if that is far from true.
It’s easy for couples to start resenting each other when they feel unloved. When this happens, one or both can end up disappointed and unsatisfied. Being proactive in intimately knowing your partner (and yourself) can help keep resentment at bay. Here are some ways you can love your partner well depending on their love language:
- Physical Touch: If your partner likes to be touched, take as many opportunities to do so as you can. Hold their hand when having a conversation, tickle them when you’re joking around, or cuddle with them during a movie night. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top, even the simplest touches count and work wonders. Respecting your partner’s boundaries when it comes to physical touch is also important and a great way to show you love them.
- Words of Affirmation: People who like words of affirmation need to know how much they mean to you. Even if you feel like you make it obvious how much you love them, your partner might not feel the same way. Words are powerful, so you should choose them carefully. Remind your partner what you like about them and don’t miss an opportunity to give them a compliment.
- Gifts: If your partner likes gifts, they probably care more about the thought behind the gift rather than the gift itself. You don’t need to go bankrupt buying things for them, you just need to make sure that the gifts are meaningful. When giving gifts, say something like, “I saw this and thought of you, and had to get it for you.” Remember and celebrate important occasions (like anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays) by picking out gifts you know will make them smile.
- Acts of Service: If your partner likes acts of service, they’ll appreciate it when you go out of your way to do something for them. The best way to know how to help someone is to ask them. If you’re not sure what is stressing your partner out the most during a given week, don’t be afraid to ask them what they need from you. This love language is all about actions over words, so prioritize actually doing things instead of just saying that you’ll do something.
- Quality Time: People who thrive off quality time want to know that they’re worth all of your attention. It’s less about what you two do together and more about the fact that you’re spending uninterrupted time in each other’s presence. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and direct all your focus towards your partner. They will appreciate the intimacy and effort shown.
Building a relationship around love languages takes effort from each partner. It also has a lot to do with sacrifice because you often have to change your own behavior. Most disconnects that happen in a relationship are because there is a lack of understanding, intimacy, or honesty. Both partners need to be comfortable explaining when and why they aren’t feeling loved, but also need to be willing to alter the ways in which they express love.
Both partners should be patient with one another as they work towards loving each other better. The effort is key; if you can tell that your significant other is genuinely trying to love you well, that’s what matters most. Remember that even if you receive love in a different way than your partner is choosing, it’s all still love.
Knowing your love language isn’t a magical fix for a broken romantic relationship. While it can work wonders for some, it won’t make much of a difference for others. No one can be defined entirely by a love language because humans are such complex creatures; so much more goes into a successful relationship. Still, love languages are a great tool for anyone who wants to love better and be loved better in return.
Author Bio: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.