When it comes to giving and receiving love, it can sometimes feel like your and your partner’s wires have gotten crossed. While some people love nothing more than flowers, presents, and grand professions of love, other people cringe at the thought of holding hands while walking down the street. This might seem random and something intrinsically personal to you, but there may be a science behind it. According to 5 Love Languages, most people fall under one of five categories and don’t change throughout their lifetime. Many people love in the way they’d want to be loved, but learning your partner’s love language could be the key to lasting relationship success.
Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor turned love guru and author. The New York Times noted that he was the first person to coin the term “Love Language.” He wrote The 5 Love Languages –– a book that’s sold millions of copies worldwide since it was published in 1992. It identifies the different ways that people like to give and receive love.
It’s very likely that you’ve heard of the love languages phenomenon. You can even take quizzes to find out yours and your partner’s. Here’s how to improve your relationship based on your love language.
The importance of knowing your love language
The 5 Love Languages outlines that one of the most prominent issues in people’s relationships is they don’t understand why their partner doesn’t want to be loved in the way that they do. According to the website, everyone experiences love differently, and that can manifest in different ways.
Dr. Chapman told The New York Times that most people have a main love language and then another one or two that they identify with. They break down into words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Dr. Chapman said, “In a marriage, almost never do a husband and wife have the same language. The key is we have to learn to speak the language of the other person.”
You can take quizzes online to find out which love languages you most align with. Very Well Mind suggests that knowing your love language can be interesting, but Chapman’s real aim was to get people to focus on the needs and ways that their partner expresses love. Rather than focusing on your love language, look at the way you can love your partner better.
Knowing your partner's love languages can make you more empathetic
Julie and John Gottman founded the Gottman Institute for marriage and relationship research and therapy. They told The Atlantic that they’ve been asked questions about love languages for decades, and the concept is most useful because it encourages you to focus on the ways in which your partner wants to be loved, rather than looking at yourself. They noted that finding out your partner’s love language is just another way of paying attention to the kind of affection that they appreciate.
You may buy your partner an extravagant gift and plan a party for their birthday. However, if their love language is quality time, then they may appreciate an intimate meal at home much more.
If you find it difficult to verbalize your love language or the things your partner does that make you feel really special, then Love Is Respect recommends writing out a list of all the times you’ve felt loved by your partner. You may see a pattern emerge. Be open and honest about what you want so that your partner knows what to give you.
How to use love language to better your relationship
Once you know your partner’s love language, you can make them feel appreciated in ways that they love the most. Dr. Chapman outlined to HuffPost that if your partner’s primary love language is words of affirmation, then you should thank and congratulate them often. They’re likely to appreciate romantic notes and loving texts.
Similarly, if their love language is quality time, then organize date nights and trips away. Ensure that when you’re together, you’re focused on their presence. For people who love physical touch, maintaining physical closeness is huge. Hugs and massages will go a long way.
If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, they don’t want any old present. Think about things they’ve mentioned in the past or gifts that tie into key moments in your relationship. Finally, your partner may really identify with acts of service. If this is the case, then they’ll see so much affection in you cleaning the house, grocery shopping, or cooking dinner.
The five love languages concept has become immensely popular, but you shouldn’t feel defined by or boxed in by yours. Stefani Goerlich, a Detroit-based psychotherapist, told Mic, “I don’t consider it to be an evidence-based practice, but I do find it to be a very useful tool … Eight times out of ten, whatever the issues are that my client-couples bring to the table, they are rooted in a fundamental misalignment in how each partner gives and receives love.”
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