"What languages do you speak?" The answer to this question determines how wonderful your relationship will be. At least to some extent. Different humans communicate in different ways. Not everyone feels loved the same way. In this article, you will learn to utilize 5 Love Languages to ensure that you and your partner both feel happy and loved. This love-empowering theory was originally introduced by Gary Chapman in 1992. When closing this page you will walk away with actionable steps to improve the quality of your long-term relationship. You will see how small behavioral changes have a profound impact on your daily life with your partner. Now is the moment to reach some relationship goals 😉
What are the five love languages?
Humans who have physical touch as a primary love language feel emotionally seen if their partner is physically affectionate. This is often expressed through physical contacts, such as holding hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling, or sex.
People who feel love through quality time enjoy spending one-on-one time with their partners. They might also appreciate a few minutes of undivided attention, such as having a cup of coffee together or watching a movie without distractions. The most important aspect for them is mental presence. If their partner is thinking about their job or checking the phone constantly they won't feel appreciated.
Word of affirmation
A person whose primary love language consists of words feels most loved when their partner verbally affirms them. Hearing from a partner how much they love them, how well they have done something, or how amazing they are will fill their chest with warmth and fuzziness. Also goes for romantic love messages.
Acts of service
People whose love language is acts of service will feel valued when their partner does a favor that makes their life easier. For instance, when they come home after a long way of work and find that dinner is ready or that their favorite sweater is ready to wear will make them feel appreciated.
The receiving gifts love language is all about giving and receiving presents. People who enjoy this type of appreciation like to receive presents from their partners, such as a flower or some chocolates. In many cases, it's not all that much about the value of the item but rather the thoughtfulness behind it.
Love languages matter in your relationship
Chances are high that you two don't share the exact same love languages dominance. That's okay. You are reading this article which means that you have understood that you need to exert effort into a relationship for it to sustain. So what happens to a couple that does speak different love languages and either is unaware or not willing to put in the work?
Marcus's primary love language is acts of service and Susie's loves words of affirmation. Susie continuously tells Marcus how beautiful he is. She never seems to get tired to express how much she loves him. Despite all these sweet words, Marcus feels left out. When he gets home from work he always has to do most of the chores. He grows to get more frustrated after doing the laundry countless times in a row. Susie's "I love you" feels like a lie to him. He thinks that Susie is not stepping up to show her that he means it.
Meanwhile, Susie questions whether Marcus even likes her. She has been promoted last week and they are soon able to move into a bigger place. Yet, Marcus hasn't even acknowledged her working so hard and diligently.
It's easy to see how both of them are drifting apart from each other even though they are initially feeling a lot of love and appreciation for each other.
What is your primary love language?
Before we bring light into the darkness, we need to find out how you show and receive love. You can do this by looking at what you complain about in relationships and what you request or need from your partner on a day-to-day basis. The answer with the most statements that resonate with you is your primary love language. To determine primary (and secondary) love language, simply read through the statements below and count for each love language how many statements resonated with you. The more points, the more dominant is that love language for you.
As with all things, there is no black and white. That means you could have nuances of different love languages mixed together. Still, most people find that they have one or two love languages that dominate how they feel and express love.
- You feel happy about hugs, cuddles, and kissing. Physical intimacy trumps everything.
- Public displays of affection like holding hands make you feel wanted.
- You would much rather sit site-to-site in a restaurant and cuddle with your partner instead of at the opposite ends of the table. You are touching and petting your partner constantly.
- When you are sexually intimate with your partner you feel loved and accepted by your partner.
- It's all about spending uninterrupted time together. You want to be present with your partner. Distractions? Nah, thanks.
- You find deep affection when your partner makes space in their schedule to spend time with you.
- Life is all about experiences and sharing them with your loved ones. You want to create a thick book worth of exciting memories with your partner and love to ponder about them.
- Spending time with your partner causes you to feel content. You don't need to go snowboarding or kitesurfing to enjoy your time together. As long as you too are mentally focused on each other.
Word of affirmation
- "I love you" are three words that are special and reassuring for you to hear. You can't get enough of them. Sweet messages throughout the day are a thoughtful gesture.
- You feel appreciated when you are being complimented. It's great to have your hard work recognized with kind words, even if it's just for something small. These are the times where you feel valued.
- The devil is in the details. You've got a new pair of jeans or went to the gym a lot recently? If your partner shares that they've noticed you are thrilled.
- You value a "thank you" after you have done a favor for your partner a lot. If they don't thank you adequately for your effort you feel unseen and frustrated.
Acts of service
- Love is all about a little chore or task here and there to make your life more convenient. If your partner does these things without you asking, you are full of happy feelings.
- You want your partner to keep their promises. Did they promise to help you with your furniture? If they keep their word and help you you feel that you can trust them for good. The word is the shadow of the deed after all.
- You feel empowered and supported when your partner goes through the effort of making your life a little easier.
- Life can be stressful at times. Maybe you work long hours. Someone taking care of you and pampering you a little means the world to you.
- A gift is an expression of love. The present comes secondary. You see the through the physical aspect and care about your partner's thoughtfulness. A good gift remains in your life as a reminder that your partner cares about you.
- Every vacation or memorable experience needs to be honored with a thoughtful item.
- You feel connected to your partner when you get little surprises from time to time. A little snack can go so far.
- You take great care of the gifts you receive as they assure you that you are worthy and loved. Postcards, birthday cards, and anniversary presents? Gotta keep them all!
Express your love through one of the love languages that your partner gets
To make your girlfriend or wife feel loved, you need to understand their dominating love languages. That's why I recommend asking your partner to do this assessment as well. It can be difficult to guess their love language and open communication always wins over attempts of mind reading.
Once you have found what love languages you and your partner have, it's important to put a conscious effort to express your love in a way that the other can understand. The idea seems trivial. Unfortunately, putting it into practice requires a lot of dedication. You are accustomed to your own love language and you do nothing short of breaking patterns that you have established for years or even decades. So go easy on yourself and your partner if you are not always able to speak the same language.
Let's take a look at how you can cater to your potential life partner depending on their love language mix:
- Physical Touch: Your partner loves when you tenderly caress them and show them physical affection. The wonderful thing about this love language is that it's easy to implement. Neither planning nor financial resources are required. When you are giving a compliment or even provide feedback, gently squeezing their shoulder or arm will get your point across. Spontaneous displays of physical affection like a warm hug from behind, while they are doing the dishes, will go a long way. Bonus points for showing affection in public.
- Quality Time: When you are spending time together, leave your phone in your pocket or better at home. No peeking at all not even when watching Squid Game. Your partner will only feel loved if you are fully present with them. You also want to make time for them and incorporate them proactively into your schedule. Plan a weekend getaway as a surprise and they will be in awe.
- Words of Affirmation: Your words are powerful and they will have a profound impact on how your partner feels about your relationship. When you notice something positive, say it often. As in, super often. Your partner won't get tired of hearing it. Compliments will make their heart melt. When giving feedback, make sure that the criticism is constructive and justified. Try sending sexy or romantic messages as little love nuggets with your cell phone.
- Acts of Service: Your actions are everything. Your partner likely appreciates it when you are taking over tasks that they dread. Do they hate vacuum cleaning (like me)? Then this chore will have a higher impact than taking out the trash. It's all about making their life easier and that's subjective. It's not all about chores necessarily. So ask what matters to them and do more of that.
- Receiving Gifts: You definitely want to keep track of every special occasion. Put everything into your calendar and don't forget things like anniversaries. When the day comes, make a thoughtful gift that shows them that you honor the memory. Sweet mini surprises just for the sake of celebrating your relationship will show her that you love her big time. When you travel together, you secretly write her a postcard. At the Christmas market? Hang one of those gingerbread hearts around her neck!
Pro tip: Your partner is not always able to translate their love into one of your love languages. Since you now know your partner’s love languages, you can also try to be more aware of instances when they are expressing their love for you without speaking your language.”
Let your love languages loosely guide you
A match of love languages between you and your partner doesn't mean that it's going to be an easy ride. Human beings are complex. Thus, relationships are complex. The love language theory is a major simplification. It's a heuristic and with that it's inaccurate. Research (Bunt & Hazelwood, 2017) has shown that couples with matching love languages have only a slight advantage when it comes to relationship satisfaction. It just goes to show that you can't stuff human connection in a simple framework. There is too much going on.
That also means that just because you are putting in the work when it comes to your love languages you are good to go. Fulfilling your partner's need to feel loved through their love language is only one piece of the puzzle. We also don't know if the love languages fluctuate over time. Maybe in three years, physical touch all of a sudden becomes more important for your partner than everything. That's why I want you to keep an open mind. Don't put your partner in a box because of this personality test-esque idea of love languages. Never assume you know your partner in and out, never quit talking.
Do love deeply and with your whole heart. You got this. I want to encourage you to read the book if what you read resonates with you.
Bunt, S., & Hazelwood, Z. J. (2017). Walking the walk, talking the talk: Love languages, self‐regulation, and relationship satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 24(2), 280-290.