Imagine how you would feel if your partner showed how much they loved you by doing the exact opposite of what you want.
In the early days of when I turned my hobbies into an online business while working and studying, I was strapped for time. All I wanted was for my partner to help me out with a few of the housekeeping and would be upset when he would plan dates to spend some quality time with me.
Was he doing anything wrong? Absolutely not! He thought he was showing me support and love by whisking me away for a few hours to de-stress and spend some time together. And while I knew where he was coming from, what I actually need was for him to help save me time so I can work on my business.
What are the 5 love languages?
The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman who coined the idea of five universal love languages: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
While the 5 Love Languages can sound like an overrated trend, it’s popular because it’s important and it makes sense. Often, we conflate the way we want to be loved with the way we love others. And as the adage goes, communication is key, but really, the right communication is key.
There are people who feel loved simply by having physical affection. Others burst with warmth when praised with affirmations. Some like gifts, and feel that their partners care when they receive the occasional treat. Then there are those who simply want quality time or acts of service such as doing the dishes.
So don’t love your partner the way you (or the way you think they) want to be loved. Here’s how to show someone you love them through the 5 love languages.
But first, how do I know what my partner’s love language is?
Just ask. Yep, explain to them the five love languages and ask. It’s the best way to figure out how your partner wants to be loved. Another way could be asking them this simple question:
“What are some of the things I do that you appreciate the most?”
Observe what their response to that is. Generally, the moments or things they list will fall into one of the 5 languages. If it falls into predominantly one love language, well then that’s your answer. If they fall into different things, probe a bit more, let them single out what they appreciate about you most.
And of course, it’s a learning process. Give all 5 love languages below a try and see how your partner responds to them.
1. Quality Time
Quality time can mean anything – from sitting at a dinner table together to going on an adventure. It’s about making the other person feel heard and understood, and it doesn’t matter how you do that as long as both of your needs for attention are being met.
You may be wondering how this is different than just hanging out with someone and just being around them. But the thing about quality time is that life gets in the way sometimes, and we forget to really be present. It’s a lot more than just physically being with them, but scheduling that time to have a meaningful, emotional bond.
When your partner is telling stories from the day — really listen! When they ask what you’ve been up to at work this week, offer details on your side too (and don’t just give one-word answers). Pay attention when they speak; put the phone away; be intentional and mindful when conversing with each other, as well as paying close attention to small nuances like eye contact.
Spending quality time together doesn’t have any rules besides being open, free of distraction, and taking the time to make your partner feel like they are the center of your world.
2. Words of Affirmation
Actions speak louder than words — but not always. Everyone is different, and there are those who feel the most loved from verbal cues. While it may seem simple, sometimes we often forget that people can’t read our thoughts. After all, how can someone know you love them if you don’t tell them?
Words of affirmation are a verbal or written expression of positive feelings for another person, whether spoken out loud to them in the moment or sent through text messages or as a love note.
I’m not talking about how often you say “I love you” to your loved one. Words of affirmation can be as simple as saying how great they look in a new sweater or how happy they made you feel when they sent you a text message — it’s all about how we make someone else feel and how much support and encouragement someone is able to get from you every day.
It’s truly as simple as letting someone you love know how much you appreciate the little things that truly make them feel special.
3. Receiving Gifts
Other times, you can express to your partner how much you love them without saying anything.
Be romantic. Surprise them with a gift: get them flowers, chocolates, jewelry. Gifts can be a great way to show your partner that you care and have taken the time to find something special for them — which can be especially helpful if it’s been a rough week or just due to the general stress of day-to-day life.
If you are on a budget and want to show how much you care without spending too much money, give your partner their favorite food or cake for breakfast. Trust me, they’ll love you for it.
4. Acts of Service
In many ways, how someone feels love can be about how they’re helped and taken care of. This doesn’t have to be as a result of your duties — it can also mean how much thought goes into making sure your partner doesn’t get stuck doing things like cooking dinner or doing the groceries. It can also be as simple as doing things like making their bed in the morning or giving them a foot massage at night.
Acts of service are a way to show your love for your partner every day by not taking advantage of what they do for you but rather appreciating how hard this might be at times (even if it seems easy). Like any other point on this list, how often these are done is important — they don’t need to be done all the time but should happen enough for it to be noticed.
5. Physical Touch
Sometimes, love can be as warm as the hand that pats our head or the arms that embrace us. This doesn’t just refer to intimacy, but rather snuggling on the couch with a movie as well as giving hugs when it’s been a long day for both people in the relationship.
Touching also helps build emotional intimacy between two people so that you and your partner can feel comfortable being vulnerable around one another without fear of judgment or shame — this has an incredible impact on how loved someone feels because it is a literal display of our affection and a sign of acceptance.
Again, it’s all about the little things: holding hands when walking, head rubs in the morning and goodbye kisses.
To Wrap Up
There are many ways to show someone you love them, but they mainly fall under the umbrellas of the 5 love languages. To express love is one thing, to show someone you love them – and for that person to feel your love- is another.
Remember, while we all may have a dominant love language, all 5 love languages need to be expressed to your loved one. Small gestures like physical touch and romantic dishwashing can really show someone you love them.
And it’s not only just about your partner, it’s about you too! By recognizing your own love language, you can also help your partner become a better partner for you. Look towards the 5 love languages not as a course of love, but as an accountability tool for you and your loved one.
So, when was the last time someone truly felt loved by you?