Written By Kirsten Moodie
A Deeper Understanding of the Five Love Languages
Many people who are interested in self-improvement and development, have probably come across the term “Love Language”. The Five Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman, which expresses the theory that people express and experience love in different ways, these are referred to as your Love Languages. To Gary Chapman these love languages are considered vital in people’s lives and essentially their happiness in a relationship. Based on his theory people tend to naturally give love in the same way that they receive it, since this is how they connect with feelings of love and contentment. All of the five Love Languages are relatively self-explanatory on the surface, but with a more in-depth look they may help you to understand your partner better.
Words of Affirmation
Words of Affirmation is exactly what it sounds like of course, but it is much more than just simple compliments. To someone whose natural love language is not to give and receive affirming words, this may seem a bit silly. To someone who experiences love this way, a simple comforting word goes a very long way. When your partners main love language is Words of Affirmation, your compliments and encouraging words are like providing sustenance for their soul. It is surprising how simply acknowledging a job well done, or saying thank you when they do something nice for you, will make your partner feel incredibly loved and appreciated. They need to hear the words to feel like you care for them, simply being there is not enough. Even if your partner knows that you care for them, they absolutely need to hear you say it in order to feel loved.
Just as positive affirmations will lift your partner up, any negative comments will tear them down. The simplest of hurtful comments will harm your partner incredibly. It is not that they are overly sensitive, it is simply that this is how they feel loved. To these people words have a powerful weight, and they do not take them lightly. They are often very conscious of how their words will affect others, not wanting to say something that may hurt the people that they love. Giving compliments is how they truly express how much they care. Be aware that your words have a powerful gravity to the person whose love language is Words of Affirmation. This does not mean that your partner cannot take feedback, it just means that you must deliver it in a patient and kind environment. Treat them as your equal and be considerate of how you word your requests.
Simply being kind with your words and attempting to express your affection verbally, will go a very long way. Your partner needs to hear positive reactions in order to feel loved and encouraged. They need to hear the words “I love you,” not just feel them expressed. When you give compliments or uplifting words to your partner, they will feel appreciated and content. Taking the time to express your consideration is important, it will help grow your bond together. For someone who is not naturally verbal with their affections this can be a bit challenging. It simply takes time and effort, and eventually you will become accustomed to sharing your feelings that way. If you care for someone it truly is worth the effort to make them feel loved.
Acts of Service
Above all else, actions truly do speak louder than words for the person whose main love language is Acts of Service. They need you to take specific action to show them how much you care. Just telling them that you love them, is not what this person is looking for. They want you to take the time to help them, often with their practical daily needs. Taking out the garbage or doing the dishes, are often good ways of showing them that you care. When you take the time to get things done that will lighten their burdens, they will instantly feel appreciated and loved.
To someone who prefers Acts of Service as their expression of love, they will feel unloved and unappreciated with someone who simply speaks their affections, rather than taking action. They don’t feel loved most by words, needing actions to make them understand that you care. When you take the time to do the little duties that they need to get done, this person will feel your love. Even cooking a meal for them after a long day, is a sign that you care and want to lessen their burdens. If you must wait for your partner to ask for help, then it entirely defeats the purpose. They need you to consciously put forth the effort to assist them, or else they may feel like you do not truly care about them. These people are very focused on practical needs, feeling most appreciated when you attempt to meet theirs. Just the smallest attempts to meet their needs will make them feel unbelievably loved. To them, these actions prove your feelings for them in a way that words may not be able to do.
To some people who do not understand this love language, it may come across shallow or silly. This is entirely untrue, and simply comes from a misunderstanding of what Receiving Gifts actually means to people who share this as their primary love language. There is a reason that we celebrate people’s birthdays or accomplishments by buying them a special gift. This is widely accepted as a form of appreciation and consideration. It shows that you were consciously thinking of this person and that you want them to realize that. For people whose main love language is Receiving Gifts, this is a vital way that they receive your love. It is often more than just the price or size of the gift, but rather the consideration that went into purchasing the item. Even the slightest gift is something that they will appreciate greatly. If your partners love language is Receiving Gifts, just grabbing their favorite candy bar or snack on the way home is actually very kind to them. It shows that you were thinking of them and wanted to find a way of showing them this. You picked up a physical representation of your love for them. When you walked by that snack you actually thought about them, making them realize that you truly care.
Even something as simple as a homemade gift, will actually be greatly appreciated by your partner. They enjoy the fact that you put forth effort and this gift is now a reminder of how you feel about them. Forgetting to purchase a gift on special occasions can be detrimental to your relationship. To them it means that you don’t care, that you didn’t consider them. If you don’t have money to spend on an elaborate gift, then take the time to consider what kind of gift would connect with them. Something small, or even something homemade, is all they need to feel like you care about them. Your partner will probably keep these gifts forever as a reminder of your feelings for them.
The person who has the Quality Time love language as their main source of love fuel, is mainly focused on receiving your undivided attention. To them it is vital that you set aside time just for them, with no distractions. Having your phone out or being distracted by the television, will make them feel unappreciated. If you are attempting to multi-task while you spend time with your partner, it won’t matter how good you are at paying attention to them. They want to know for sure that you couldn’t care less about the other things in your life at that moment. They want your focus to be 100% on them and your precious time together.
Simply taking time to shut out the world and interact with your partner, is all they need to feel loved. It often doesn’t need to be an intensely long amount of time, simply enough to show them that they matter. They need to realize that the other things in your life do not take precedence over them. If your partner complains that you don’t have time for them, then you need to make time. They need you to sit and share a conversation with them, they want to feel connected to you. The primary focus is feeling like you two can share a special connection without being affected or distracted by outside attention. It is important to maintain useful eye contact and listen intently while your partner is speaking. They want you hear you discuss your feelings as well, but take care not to interrupt them when they are speaking.
To someone whose love language is physical touch, even the slightest touches help to fuel their love tank. To them that physical connection is almost like oxygen, they need it to feel content and appreciated. It doesn’t mean they want to cling to you constantly, they probably enjoy their space as well. This just means that to feel loved by you, they need you to attempt to connect with them physically. Even the slightest touches are more than enough, for example caressing their arm as you walk by. Giving massages is also an excellent way to make your partner feel loved or simply letting your leg brush against theirs gently while you sit next to one another. To the person whose love language is physical touch, they often enjoy just sitting near each other touching somehow while you both do your own separate thing. They might enjoy reading a book or watching a TV show, with your legs draped over one another or their head resting on your shoulder. Simply feelings close to you, helps them to feel loved and appreciated.
If you go long periods of time without reaching out to touch your partner, they will feel sad and unloved. This hurts them deeply and makes them feel like they don’t really exist to you. Rejecting their physical expression of love towards you, is also intensely hurtful to them. You must be careful not to push them away when they are attempting to make physical contact. If they are reaching for you it means that they are probably feeling unloved at that moment or they are wanting to express their love for you. It is important to make sure to touch them daily, even if it is the slightest of caresses. These little kisses or touches can last only a moment, but they will often make your partner feel loved and appreciated for the entire day.
As someone who has personally identified as a powerful reactor to the Physical Touch love language, I realize just how accurate this can be. Sure, like any untested relationship assistance, it can have its flaws. The accuracy of the five love languages lies in its simplicity. There are really only so many basic ways to express that you care about someone. Although each of these five love languages can have many variations to how they are expressed, they definitely encompass the simple ways in which we express affection. I realize that I personally feel drained and unhappy in a relationship that is lacking og physical attention. I don’t need much, but I do need to be touched to understand that someone cares about me. My secondary is Words of Affirmation and that also affects me more than I often realize. These are important factors in understanding just how we perceive and give love.
Realizing your own love language, as well as the love language of your partner can truly improve your relationship. If you want to make each other happy, I strongly suggest taking this step to do so. It cannot fix greater problems in the relationship, but it is certainly a useful tool in discovering how to make your partner feel appreciated.