Have you ever had a moment when you questioned how much someone cares about you because you don’t hear them say “I love you” as much as you do? That could be because your love language is Words of Affirmation but theirs is not. And then, if you ask them about it, they may say something along the lines of “I show love through actions”, meaning their love language is most likely Acts of Service.
This difference between a couple can lead to problems because one doesn’t know how to show the other that they care in a way that makes it clear for both. The person whose love language is Words of Affirmation needs to hear their partner express their feelings with words. And the one whose love language is Acts of Service needs reassurance in the form of gestures, not words. And the only way to understand and work through that is by communicating.
Now allow me to explain this: the 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, and Receiving Gifts. They were explained by Dr. Gary Chapman, an author, and counselor, in his 1992 book, The 5 Love Languages. Nearly 3 decades later and the book is still relevant. He wrote the book after years of observing the most common issues couples had when they sought his help, and they seemed to always lead to the same place: miscommunication. Specifically, those couples were having problems communicating their emotional needs to each other because they had different ways to express their feelings, as Chapman would someday explain in his book. And we’re now giving you a quick rundown on each one.
- Words of Affirmation
People with this love language need love to be expressed with words, praise, kind words of encouragement, you get it. That whole story of “an image is worth a thousand words” doesn’t work with them. These people need an “I love you” just as much as they need a hug from a loved one. Maybe even more. If whoever you’re dating has this love language, please remember to tell them you appreciate them as much as you demonstrate it in other ways.
- Quality Time
These folks are the ones who just want to spend time with their loved ones without interruptions. Do not stay on your phone during a conversation if this is your partner’s love language (this wouldn’t be a good idea anyway, but especially in this scenario). People who have this love language care much more about 10 minutes of your undivided attention than they do about 10 hours of you sitting next to them looking at your phone. Quality over quantity, people!
- Physical Touch
Holding hands, hugging, putting an arm around their shoulder are all different ways to show love to someone whose love language is Physical Touch. All these guys want is to cuddle up with their partner on the couch and feel the love through that hug. If you ask them about their perfect date, they’re likely to answer “stay home and cuddle while we watch movies”.
- Acts of Service
Here we have the people who truly believe in “actions speak louder than words”. These guys need to be shown love via attitudes and gestures. It can be something really simple: to take the trash out for them when you know they’ve had a busy day, bring them a glass of water when you get one for yourself, wash the dishes after dinner. Even the smallest acts of service go a long way with them.
- Receiving Gifts
Last but not least, we have the people who see gift-giving as a symbol of love. “Oh, but love isn’t supposed to be about spending money on the other person”. You’re right, it isn’t. But these people don’t see the amount you spent, their focus is on the thought behind the gift. It means a lot to them that you saw something and thought “Hm, this reminds me of this person, I’ll get it for them”. You don’t have to give them expensive stuff, just something that shows you know them well enough to pick something you’re sure they will love.
But why should we care so much about that? Because it’s through the understanding that each person expresses love differently that we develop healthy relationships. We may know our own love languages, but by learning the love language of others in our lives, we can learn to express love in their way, creating better relationships and a sense of empathy that so many relationships — romantic or otherwise — lack. Just like seeing the world as the other person sees it, learning to express love as the other person does can help develop a sense of respect and understanding for them that can make any relationship stronger.
This article was edited by Isadora Noronha Pereira
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