The ‘love language’ concept was formed in 1995 when Dr Gary Chapman released his bestselling self-help book The Five Love Languages. The concept is simple: every human being has a way that they give and receive love. It’s like a language – they understand it, and others can learn it in order to communicate with them in ways they understand.
The five love languages are:
Physical Affection Words of Affirmation Acts of Service Receiving Gifts Quality Time
Understanding what your partner’s love language is can impact your relationship more than you think. Recognizing the way your partner gives and receives love can help you connect with them on levels they truly understand. It can also help you understand their feelings better – in both good times and bad – and can be a way for you to strengthen your relationship.
If ‘Physical Affection’ is your partner’s primary love language…
This means they crave physical intimacy (touching, holding hands, kissing, cuddling, hugging, etc.). Simple gestures, like holding hands in public or a kiss on the forehead or cheek before they leave for work in the morning, are really important to them.
How to love this person: people with this love language can be very intimate with their physical actions towards you, too. They will want to be close to you, to hug you, to kiss you in public. Sex can also be really important to this person because of the intimacy they feel during the act. Most importantly, if there are times when you’re not being so physically intimate with them (in whatever ways you typically share physical intimacy together), they may begin to feel unloved and unwanted because it’s their primary source of affection.
If ‘Words of Affirmation’ is your partner’s primary love language…
This means that while they appreciate the physicality of love, they feel best supported by words of encouragement. Reassuring them, affirming them, and supporting them with heartfelt messages is going to be the most effective way of showing how much they mean to you.
How to love this person: people who have this love language would adore a heartfelt birthday card with a long message, a sweet note left on the counter for them in the morning, or a really nice text message in the middle of the day. You can let them know you’re thinking about them, you’re proud of them, that you love them, and that you appreciate everything they do.
If ‘Acts of Service’ is your partner’s primary love language…
This means to them actions speak louder than words. While they will enjoy hearing “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”, they see those feelings more clearly represented in things that you do to make their life easier.
How to love this person: doing a load of laundry for them, washing the dishes, or surprising them with their favorite dinner when they get home are all great ways to show this person affection. If this person lives a very busy life, taking something off their plate can help them feel more balanced and can let them know you’re there to support them however you can.
If ‘Receiving Gifts’ is your partner’s primary love language…
This means they appreciate receiving heartfelt gifts – it makes them feel loved and adored and appreciated. This person will understand and appreciate the thought (and yes, also the financial effort) that you put into a gift for them.
How to love this person: surprising them with gifts (big or small) is going to make them feel cherished and loved. Just because they appreciate expensive gifts doesn’t mean they need them – your gift to them doesn’t need to break the bank. A homemade gift often says the same as an expensive one.
If ‘Quality Time’ is your partner’s primary love language…
This means that, above all, they value time spent with their loved ones. Gifts, acts of service, sweet poems you make for them… all of those things are really appreciated but what they actually want is time alone with you.
How to love this person: quality time wouldn’t be quality time if your primary focus wasn’t on each other. As difficult as it can be in today’s world, spending time without distractions (cell phones, TV shows, internet, etc.) and really connecting as a couple will be the gift this person loves the most. Take them camping, go for a nice long walk in the forest together, or spend a night talking and catching up over takeout.