What’s Your Love Language? A Guide to Navigating Relationships
Whether you’re aware of it or not, we all subconsciously crave affection—but did you know that humans both crave and give specific types of affection?
Think about it: do you find yourself really appreciating it when your partner showers you in gifts during the holidays? Or perhaps you aren’t the type for gifts—maybe you value verbal praise (we see you out there, pet name lovers) over material objects. Through my own experiences I’ve learned that I deeply appreciate love expressed through physical touch, but the same might not be true for everyone else.
Below, I will be relaying the different types of ways people express their love, as outlined by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman in his best-selling book “The 5 Love Languages.” We tend to express our affection in the same way we want to receive it, which can sometimes cause rifts in our relationship—not necessarily romantic ones; love languages can also apply to your relationships with your family and friends. Learning about the different love languages makes it easier to identify what you and your loved one truly desire from each other, making for smoother communication between you two.
1. Words of Affirmation
For those who crave verbal affirmation, kind words can go a long way. This can include everything from cute pet names to even the simplest of regular “I love you’s”. Hearing your partner say how much they value you in their life is worth more to some than even the most expensive gifts.
Like with other love languages, those who tend to naturally give verbal affirmation may not even be aware that they’re doing it. If you have a million different nicknames for your loved one, or if you like to tell them how beautiful they are first thing every morning, you may fall in this category. These can be satisfying expressions of love for some people, but for others, words might not be enough—even if they’re 100% sincere.
2. Acts of Service
Those who desire this form of love take kindly to their loved ones performing tasks for them. Helping out around the house, running errands, and cooking meals for you are all a number of seemingly mundane acts that affection cravers of this type will deeply appreciate. If you find yourself loving it the most when your loved one goes out of their way to do things for you, you may fall into this category.
A lot of people struggle to understand acts of service-affection givers because the way they express their affection can seem subtle. Tasks they perform can be perceived by unknowing partners as just that—chores. Affection givers of this type should explicitly try to communicate the loving intent behind their actions to ensure mutual understanding between partners.
There’s nothing wrong with being a bit material, and no one knows this better than those who crave affection expressed through gifts. Valentine’s Day is when affection cravers of this type seem to thrive the most; they love any opportunity they can get to revel in the gifts their loved one will bring to them. If you love it when your partner surprises you with flowers from the shop down the road, this type of affection may be your niche.
Gift givers love to splurge a little on their loved ones. While many actually want this type of affection, a lot of other people desire more subtle love-expressions—or even hate gifts all together! In your partner’s eyes, going out of your way to help them clean up their apartment might be a better expression of your love and would also be easier on your wallet.
4. Quality Time
Do you love going on trips with your partner? Or perhaps just going on quiet dates with them? Those who enjoy receiving affection through quality time with their loved one value having experiences with them, whether that be traveling, hiking, going out in the evenings, or spending a night in to watch a movie with them. Date-night enthusiasts and travel lovers fit snugly into this category.
It seems like giving the gift of experiences to your partner might be an obvious way to show them that you love them—but for more homebody, introverted types, there are other ways to express yourself that might be better in-line with their interests. Try having a conversation about their likes with them, and remember to take their preferences into account when planning a surprise for them.
5. Physical Touch
Cuddle enthusiasts, rejoice—there’s a love language for you guys too! Physical-affection cravers love physical intimacy with their partners. They’re all about hugs, kisses, holding hands, cuddling, and sex. For some, the best way of conveying just how much you love them is by touching and holding them: more physically intimate forms of love.
Alas, there are those out there who are not very touchy-feely, and that’s perfectly okay. People who are more oriented to giving their affection in physical ways should be mindful of their partner’s personal space and communicate with them to learn the best ways to give them the affection they need.
A lot of relationship issues stem from a lack of communication, which is where an understanding of love languages can help couples who are troubled. Observing and learning how to interact with your partner’s love language is a form of communication in itself, and demonstrates just how much effort one is willing to put forth to maintain a healthy relationship. Becoming well-versed in the world of love languages is definitely a must for those puzzled over the best way to show love to their partner, and hopefully, this guide to affection can be of use to many.