Girlfriend and girlfriend posing at market

How Understanding Your Love Language Can Help You Navigate the Most Important Relationships in Your Life

If you want to keep up with your evolving relationships, whether they be platonic or romantic, you NEED to invest in your love language. Maybe you have no idea what love languages are. If you are completely clueless when it comes to love languages, this could be the missing piece in the main relationship in your life. Love languages are an idea introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman in The #1 New York Times Bestseller, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The five love languages describe a different form of love and affection, whether that be self-love, platonic love, familial love, or romantic love. By knowing your love language, your partner’s love language, your family members' individual love languages, you will be able to show them appreciation in a way that they find fulfilling and strengthening for your different relationships. I just read Dr. Chapman’s book and started understanding my love languages last summer and to be honest, it changed the way I look at important relationships in my life. It also allowed me to look in a different way at friendships or potential relationships in my past that didn’t succeed. Comprehending my love languages has allowed me to move forward with improving my self-love and mental health, heal family relationships and create a concrete, loving foundation with my partner. 

 

The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Your individual love language can be a small portion of each of these or one or two languages significantly. I have never met one person with the same love language as me. That’s what’s so exciting about investing in understanding your language as well as the languages of major people in your life. There is a quiz that allows you to receive a breakdown of your main love languages. I’ve taken the single’s quiz to understand my individual love language as well as the couple’s quiz with my partner to understand how our love languages intertwine and work together to better our relationship. Knowing your love language and communicating that with the important people in your life can be so strengthening not just in your relationships and friendships, but also personally. You can learn more about yourself and the things that make you happy as well as how you can love other people more, therefore giving you more happiness and fulfillment when it comes to your individual life. 

 

Words of Affirmation - 

Words of affirmation can be so strengthening for a relationship. Knowing that you respond better to words when you’re invested in someone can be really eye-opening for not only yourself but your partner. Words of affirmation don’t just mean telling your partner they look “good” today. Words of affirmation can be your partner communicating with you in the proper way that allows you to feel understood and appreciated in your relationship. “I’m feeling overwhelmed with work today, can we talk?” Phrases like that make you feel needed and valued in that specific relationship. Hearing the words “I love you” and “I appreciate you” mean more to you than anything. If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, you will be able to make them feel acknowledged by texting them during their workday and telling them you’re proud of them. Expressions of gratitude can be so powerful in your relationship. Words of affirmation are my main love language, so the important people in my life, including my boyfriend, know that the way I feel loved the most positively is through words and communication. 

 

Acts of Service - 

If your love language is acts of service, this means that you feel the most appreciated when people in your life do things for you in order to make your life less stressful. So you find it very special when your parents make you breakfast when they know you aren’t feeling well, or when your sibling does your chores because they know you’ve been overwhelmed with school. It’s the fact that these important people went out of their way to do something they know you had to do that makes you feel the most valued. It’s when people in your life do things without you even having to ask that makes you feel the most respected. Now, doing the dishes when you know you don’t have to can be great for your partner’s acts of service love language, however, sometimes your partner will expect you to go above and beyond, doing things they never would’ve expected in order to keep the love flowing. This could be as simple as surprising them with their favorite restaurant or buying them a vacation to a place they’ve always wanted to go to. Don’t get this confused with gifts, the third love language. That person with acts of service as their love language doesn’t always want things, they want to be taken care of. They want to loosen the reigns of stress and they want you as their partner or a special person in their life to help them with that. So, you taking the trash out, watching your siblings so your parents can have a date night, giving your partner’s car a car wash are all things that the important people in your life will appreciate according to their love language of acts of kindness. 

 

Receiving Gifts - 

Those little gifts, little surprises can be the best way to express love to those with receiving gifts as their love language. Buying them things you know they would never buy for themselves are the most special. By buying those special people with the love language of receiving gifts, little things that remind them you’re thinking of them and that you appreciate them can allow for a stronger relationship because you understand the things that make your partner happy. Just because their love language is receiving gifts, does not mean that they are all about materialistic things. It just means that your partner feels valued when you put the time and effort into buying them things that will make them feel loved, special and appreciated. Make sure to think beyond the gift. Don’t just buy them things to keep them entertained in the relationship. Buy them items that will allow them to reflect on what that gift means to them. Something they can keep out in the open that will remind them of you and the love you have for them and all they contribute to your life. If you yourself have the love language of receiving gifts, remember that self-love goes a long way. If you notice you’re down emotionally or mentally, buy yourself your favorite lunch, a new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, or even flowers. You can only love those important people in your life as much as you love yourself, so the more you love yourself and the person you’re growing into, the more you can love those special people that fill your life with all the good vibes. 

 

Quality Time - 

Quality time sounds pretty understandable, right? Just spend time with the people in your life. Yes, this is the basis of this love language, but understanding it is so much deeper than just sitting and watching TV with them, although this could be a perfectly acceptable example of quality time. Quality time is when you make that other person a sole priority, no distractions, no other places to be, nothing else to do, except be there with that person, present and focused. MAKE TIME for those main people. Don’t just fit them into your schedule whenever you have the chance. Set a specific night every week where you can give that significant other a respectable amount of time and love, whether that be talking about how they’re doing emotionally, playing a game, just sitting and listening to them, or watching a movie. Be mentally present. Turn off your phone and listen. By planning your quality time ahead of time, your partner will feel like more of a priority in your life, especially if your schedule is overwhelmingly busy. You can show those friendships in your life quality time by making time to facetime or call. Scheduling a Facetime catchup can be really powerful for a friendship where you might not see them frequently. If your love language is quality time, you must make sure your partner, family and friends know this so that when you are in need of support, they know how to give that to you. 

 

Physical Touch - 

Now I know what you’re thinking. Physical touch = sex. The love language of physical touch is less about sex and more about intimacy. It’s about feeling close to your partner. This could be through holding hands, hugs, massages, playing with their hair. Just because you or your partner has physical touch as a love language does not mean that you rely solely on sex to feel affection. Anna McCabe, a Visual Communication Design Sophomore at Montclair State talks about how she and her boyfriend, Ben first explored the idea of love languages together. “Ben and I have been together since junior year of high school, so we have really grown together. In high school, we were constantly all over each other but were super opposed to too much PDA (public displays of affection). A simple touch to the back reassured another that we were there and loved one another. We still do it today as a sign of endearment,” says McCabe. 

boyfriend and girlfriend together at prom, posing with flowers Photo by Anna McCabe

 

Understanding and breaking down your love language(s) can be one of the most fulfilling things in your adult life. It allows you to recognize how you accept love and how you can give love to others. Learning your love language(s) is all about expressing love and learning how to love those important people in your life the way they most feel affection. You will be able to make those important relationships and connections more of a priority in your life, instead of just fitting them into your busy schedule. Accepting and digesting your individual love languages will not only help you express love to other people, but also to yourself. Like I said before, loving others starts with loving yourself. By understanding how you feel the most affection, you will be able to move forward with self-love as well as self-expression. So whether you feel love through words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch, acknowledge and appreciate these different forms of expression and learn how you can incorporate them into your practice of love and appreciation. Remember that everyone expresses and feels love differently, which is what makes the practice of love languages so exciting. By learning the love languages of the important people in your life, you will be able to grow as a partner, as a sibling, as a daughter, as a friend, and most importantly as a person.