One of the most useful — and simple — things I’ve ever learned to help strengthen romantic relationships is Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. It’s such a good shortcut to understanding your partner, and I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but I recently looked into it a little deeper and wanted to share some of my discoveries with you.
So what are the 5 Love Languages and what the hell does that mean?
Each person has one primary and one secondary love language. Chapman suggests that to discover a love language, one must observe the way he expresses love to others, analyze what he complains about most often, and what he requests from his significant other most often. People tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love.
In short, if the thing you want most from your significant other is compliments, that is the way you will tend to express love: by giving compliments. The problem occurs when your partner’s love language is different to yours. If you show love by giving compliments, but what they really want is to simply spend time with you, they’re not going to feel that they are really being loved. When you know how your partner defines the act of love, you’ll be able to essentially communicate with them in that language.
The love language quiz is right here and it’s free to take! Make your partner take it too!
The five different love languages are outlined below (the descriptions are taken from the official site). You might be able to glance at them and instantly tell which are your primary and secondary languages, but sometimes it’s not that obvious, so be sure to take the quiz!
These are the 5 love languages.
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
Okay, so, how can we put this into action? Here are some of my ideas.
If your partner’s love language is…
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION, try…
Waking them up by telling them something you love about them. Sending sweet text messages. Writing them a haiku every day for a month. Making a list of the reasons you love them, and emailing it through. Doing an Instagram post telling the story of how you met. Showing your partner how much you value them by bragging about them when the two of you are hanging out with friends. Leaving messages in chalk outside their house!
QUALITY TIME, try…
Blocking out a chunk of time every week where you do something special together. Making date night an essential, non-negotiable part of your week. Organising a surprising new way to spend time together every month. Creating a warm, relaxing environment for them to come home to at the end of the day. Really listening to your partner (and not just waiting for your turn to talk). Spending time talking about life, the universe, and everything. Having shared hobbies or interests that you do together.
PHYSICAL TOUCH, try…
Waking them up with kisses. Giving them a massage at the end of a long week (I like Lush massage bars for this purpose, especially Sacre Coeur). Holding hands as you walk down the street. Giving a lingering back rub while they’re reading. Washing and brushing their hair. Giving lots of hugs and kisses. Making sex a priority. Being physically close when you’re just hanging out. Devising a secret handshake!
ACTS OF SERVICE, try…
Asking, “How can I help you?” Surprising them by cooking a meal, doing their laundry, tidying their bathroom. Doing exactly what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it. Lending a hand without your lover having to ask for it. Organising anything to make their life easier — hiring a housekeeper, topping up their MetroCard, finding the perfect babysitter or dog-walker.
RECEIVING GIFTS, try…
Making a note of the things they stare longingly at, and secretly snapping them up. Bringing them home something small, just to let them know you were thinking about them. Planning extra-special birthdays, Valentine’s Days, Christmases. Throwing a surprise party (remember, for your partner, it’s all about you making the effort). Making small gestures to let them know they’re on your mind and they are a priority. Creating a treasure hunt full of surprises!
Here’s to love…