According to NY Times bestselling author Gary Chapman, there are 5 different ways that people generally like to give and receive love. These are referred to as your love language. For each of us one or maybe several of these ways may dominate the way that we like to receive love and in order to truly feel loved by someone we need them to express their love in these ways. If you and your partner don’t have the same dominant language, it can almost be likened to speaking in different tongues. If you’re speaking to your partner in Spanish and they only understand English, you are setting yourself up for a lot of misunderstanding and not being heard. The same goes for speaking different love languages.
We tend to give love in our preferred method of receiving it. This will work wonderfully if your partners love language happens to be the same as yours. However, if their preference for receiving love is different, no matter how much you display your love through your language, they will not feel it in the way that they would if you speak to them in theirs.
The 5 languages of love listed in order of my personal preference for giving and receiving are:
- Physical Touch: This includes everything from hand holding, hugging and kissing, to massage, caressing and sex. Human beings are hard wired for touch. It releases an intoxicating cocktail of neurotransmitters in our brains and is incredibly healing. If this is your partners love language, make sure to touch them often. A hand on the knee, a pat on the back or a long sincere hug will make them feel loved. There are so many ways to express affection physically and it is incredibly healing for both giver and receiver to be touched. Being physically present with speakers of this language is very important since it is the only way you can touch one another. Trying even simple gestures such as touching knees or feet during a meal, or sitting close together with your arm around them can go a long way. If your partner tends to be a very touchy feely person, this is probably their primary love language.
- Words of Affirmation: Saying “I love you” can be an incredible gift for those of us that speak this love language. Any kind of acknowledgment, praise or appreciation expressed verbally can make speakers of this language feel incredibly loved. Unsolicited compliments make them feel amazing. Kind and encouraging words can make all the difference. If this is your partners love language, practice giving them compliments, acknowledging them for what they do. Even a simple “thank you for washing the dishes” will go a long way here. Love notes, random sweet little texts and emails or unexpected cards will send them over the moon. People with this style are especially sensitive to harsh words, criticism or insults so choose your words wisely when you have something to say that is not clearly a loving affirmation. And for those of you that have a hard time speaking the words “I love you”, know that it is very important for your partner to hear them so if you do feel love for your partner, learn to become comfortable with saying those three little words. It will go a long way and mean the world to them.
- Quality Time: If quality time is your partner’s love language, giving them your undivided attention is the way to go. When I say undivided, I mean no TV in the background, no texting or checking facebook on the side, I truly mean putting your focus on them. Learning to really listen to your partner can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Look at them when they are speaking, clear your mind and take in the words they are saying. Reflect back what you heard. Communicating in this way is healing for anyone. Feeling truly heard by your partner is a precious gift and for those that speak this language it has an extra level of value. Being interrupted when speaking is incredibly hurtful for these people. It makes them think that they are not being listened to or heard. Flaking on plans is also a no-no. Spending uninterrupted quality time together doing things you both enjoy is a great way to give love in this language.
- Acts of Service: People that speak this love language greatly appreciate any kind of help that you are able to offer them. Whether that be help in the kitchen, picking up the dry cleaning, fixing the broken fence or walking the dog. Anything that you can do to help ease their load will make them feel special and loved. Make sure you do these things with a good attitude. If you resent your partner while helping them in these ways, it defeats the purpose and they won’t feel the love you are trying to give. Planning dates and other fun outings that you know your partner will appreciate is another great way to provide acts of service to speakers of this language.
- Gifts: People that speak this love language aren’t necessarily materialistic. Gift giving has been considered an expression of love in most if not all cultures in the history of humanity. Gifts are a physical representation of love. Giving gifts, however small or insignificant you might consider them to be, can speak volumes about your love to speakers of this language. It’s the thoughtfulness behind the gift that really counts here. If your partner falls into this category, it’s very important to remember birthdays, anniversaries etc and to celebrate them with gifts on these days. Notice when they point out something they like in a magazine or a store window and buy it for them later. Giving them physical tokens of your affection, whether flowers, chocolate or even a simple card can make a world of difference to them. Its important that thought and a little bit of effort went into these gifts in order for your partner to truly feel loved in this way. Thoughtless gifts will not be appreciated nearly as much and will not make them feel loved.
Knowing your partner’s love language can be incredibly helpful and healing to your relationships. Most of us express love in the way that we prefer to receive it, however our partners will feel most loved, if we give to them in their preferred language versus our own. Finding out your partner’s love language and then communicating in it, can be one of the best things you can do for your relationship. Make sure they know your language as well so they can return the favor.
All of the love languages can be applied to any relationship, not just your significant other. Learn your friend’s, children’s, family’s and co-worker’s languages and see your relationships flourish by making little adjustments to how you interact with them.
To find out your love language, try this quiz.
© Copyright 2015 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving