- If you’re in a serious long-term relationship, chances are you think you know your partner very well
- However, if your partner’s particular love language differs from your own, they could view your relationship in a whole other light – without you even knowing!
- Being mindful of your partner’s love language can help you to understand their actions better and improve your communication. Here’s how to adapt to every love language
Words of affirmation
You’ve probably heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, but for those with the primary love language of words of affirmation, this simply isn’t the case. Partners with this love language will often default to expressing their feelings about the relationship out loud, by saying “I love you” or “I appreciate you” or “I’m really grateful that you made dinner tonight.”
It can sometimes cause problems in a relationship when a partner with a different love language gets frustrated that their spouse talks a big game, but doesn’t seem to demonstrate their affection in any way. It’s important to remember that, to people with words of affirmation as their love language, comments are not shallow or taken lightly. They are not likely to say ‘I love you’ if they don’t mean it, or to throw around compliments in order to placate someone or distract them. To them, words are a way to demonstrate the feelings happening beneath.
To integrate this love language into your relationship, be mindful of when your partner does something kind for you, and comment on it directly. Instead of assuming a hug will get the point across, use your words and let them know that you appreciate everything they do for you.
The desire for gifts as a love language often gets a bad reputation. People conjure up an image of spoiled, shallow people desperate for presents, who won’t be happy with anything less than a five-star holiday stay for Valentine’s Day, and who only say ‘I love you’ when presented with a new pair of shoes. This stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
Those for whom the receipt of gifts is their preferred love language can be the most sentimental people you’re likely to meet. They do not care about what a gift cost or how big it is; instead, they are flattered and excited that some item reminded you of them while they weren’t around, and that you went to the trouble of getting it for them. These are the people who will always show up to your house with your favourite chocolates or drink “just because”, and who will surprise you with a book on plants because they remembered you saying you wanted to get into gardening.
Integrating this love language into your life doesn’t have to mean spending tonnes of money. If you have a hobby that involves creating something, just know that spending time making your partner a scarf or writing them a poem would be seen as the height of romantic gesture to your partner. Paying attention to things that delight them, and occasionally referencing their interests with small presents like plushies or books on a certain favourite topic, will let them know that you listen to and care about them.
Acts of service
Despite what some may think, acts of service is not a made-up love language invented to help people get out of doing the washing up. On the contrary, if you notice your partner consistently opting to do the chores they know you hate, they are probably expressing their love in the most meaningful terms they can think of.
Those for whom acts of service is their preferred love language believe that love is, at its core, about working together to make each other’s lives as comfortable and happy as possible. If they want to show you that they care, they will go out of their way to eliminate whatever is causing you the most stress in your daily routine, whether that’s by walking the dog for you, making dinner, or running you a bath and leaving you alone to decompress for a while.
Integrating this love language into your own life couldn’t be easier. Figure out whatever tasks your partner hates or finds difficult, and help them with those tasks. If you notice they always do the laundry but procrastinate folding it, putting the clothes away for them will make them feel as though they are cared for and appreciated. If you move their favourite mug to right next to the coffee maker for them every night before bed, they will recognise that you know them well enough to predict what they will love.
In any relationship, it’s important for both partners to spend time apart as well as together, pursuing separate hobbies and maintaining individual friendships. However, people will differ in just how much alone time they believe they need in a relationship, and how self-sufficient they want to be. While some people are content to see their partner at bedtime and for the occasional date night, others need more dedicated time with their partner to be satisfied.
Those with the love language of quality time find that they regain energy just by being around their partner, whether they are on a “proper” date or not. They will probably offer to keep you company even while you are doing solo or mundane tasks, sitting beside you while you read or play video games, or chatting in the kitchen while you do the dishes. Above all, they will want to demonstrate that they want to be around you, even if you’re both doing your own thing while hanging out.
Making time for your partner is the best way to integrate this love language into your relationship. Even if they’re making dinner, helping to tidy as they cook, or just sitting at the table to ask about their day, will make a huge difference. For birthdays or holidays, buying them an experience that you can both do together will let them know that you view the two of you as a unit, and that you enjoy spending time with them.
Much like those with the love language of quality time, those who prioritise physical touch find it relaxing and rejuvenating to be close to their partner. Specifically though, people with this love language will express love towards their partners by being in close physical contact with them: hugging, holding hands, or just snuggling up on the couch.
Rather than being based on clinginess or insecurity, those with this love language find that touch is the most direct and intimate way to communicate their feelings. For them, a forehead kiss is the best way to communicate tenderness or care, and holding hands can be flirty, sweet or steadfast. They will often find excuses to touch you, brushing lint off your shirt, moving your hair out of your eyes or leaning against you.
To integrate this love language into your life, simply make time to touch your partner. Whether that’s by holding hands as you walk, or by hugging them from behind while they make breakfast, these small moments will stick in their memory and make them smile. This principle can be escalated into things like massages or dance lessons, which will give you and your partner an excuse to really get close.