Gary Chapman’s bestselling book ‘The Five Love Languages’ (1982) outlines his theory that each person has a primary language through which they communicate and feel love. These five love languages are still recognised today, and can be an excellent tool in better understanding your partner’s needs, as well as how they best express and receive love.
Let’s explore the languages, and a few simple ways to ‘speak’ them.
Words of Affirmation
For some people, love is shared (and felt) through words of affirmation. These are empathetic comments that encourage your partner to tap into their potential. It’s not about encouraging your partner to do what you want them to do, but to help them find the courage to pursue and develop their own interests.
If your partner's love language is words of affirmation, you could:
- Give your partner a new and different compliment every day.
- Write words of affirmation down in a notebook/phone. Read through these periodically and share them with your partner.
- Write your partner a love letter. Or leave little love notes around the house, on the fridge etc.
- Compliment your partner in the presence of their parents or friends.
If your love language is quality time, you value a feeling of togetherness with your partner. This is not achieved through proximity alone (i.e., sitting on the couch together watching TV), but by giving your partner your undivided attention. This can be in the context of a quality conversation (where partners share their thoughts, feelings, and desires) or quality activities (where both partners share an interest).
If your partner’s love language is quality time, you could:
- Take your partner out for a meal. Don’t look at your phone and give them your focused attention.
- Make time to debrief on daily events and nightly dreams.
- In conversations with your partner, be an active listener. Ask them follow up questions and clarify anything you don’t understand.
- Ask your partner for a list of five activities that they would enjoy doing with you. Plan to do one of them every month.
- Book a weekend getaway.
For gift givers/receivers, the value of a gift is not tied up in its material value or cost. Rather, its value is as a reminder that your partner was thinking about you when you weren’t there. For many, this is a tangible symbol of love.
If your partner’s love language is gift giving, you could:
- Try a handmade gift (get creative).
- When your partner mentions something they like, jot it down in your phone/notebook.
- If you’re at a café or bakery, bring them home a treat.
- Gifts don’t have to be purchased! Pick your partner some wildflowers on your walk home.
Acts of Service
For some people, love is felt when partners go out of their way to make their life easier. This can be in many ways, big or small, from cleaning the kitchen, to making your coffee in the morning or to clearing out the cat litter.
If your partner’s love language is acts of service, you could:
- Make them breakfast in bed
- Ask your partner to list 10 things that they would like you to do for them during the next month.
- If your partner asks you to do something for them, don’t view it as nagging. They might be flagging something that is really important to them.
If your love language is physical touch, you communicate emotional love through physical intimacy, such as kissing, holding hands, embracing and/or sex. Physical touch can be an incredibly affirming way of connecting with your partner, but it can feel difficult for some.
If your partner’s love language is physical touch, you could:
- Reach out and hold their hand or put an arm around them. Both at home and in public.
- Give your partner a massage. Try our Essensual Oil, a multi-use massage and body oil.
- Spend time exploring and kissing new parts of their body (ear, fingers, shoulders etc).
Knowing and understanding love languages can serve as a lightbulb moment of clarity to relationships. Have you ever felt like you’ve done something for your partner that went unappreciated? Or have you felt like they haven’t reciprocated your words/actions in a way that makes you feel loved? You’re not always going to express love in the same way, but if you can recognise each other’s language, you’ll be better equipped to love your partner in a way that makes them feel loved, and vice versa.