It’s easy to disregard love languages as an abstract, hippy-dippy theory about romance that bears no reflection on the ins and outs of modern relationships, but if you’re quick to dismiss their power, then – not to be dramatic – but you might be committing a love faux pas that will forever stop you levelling up your love life…
If every relationship you have falls at a similar hurdle, it could be because of the simple fact that you’ve yet to understand the power of love languages.
Maybe you’ve watched every episode of First Dates in Channel 4’s history. Maybe you’re the go-to pal in your friendship group for relationship advice. Or maybe, you’re so used to swiping on Tinder that the muscle memory in your fingers is quite remarkable. You could be all of the above and a self-confessed dating pro, but if every relationship you have falls at a similar hurdle, it could be because of the simple fact that you’ve yet to understand the power of love languages.
The concept of a whole new and foreign language that may be completely unfamiliar is understandably overwhelming, but harnessing the power of what’s written between the lines and the things that make your partner tick can open a new world of possibility in communication and understanding for you and your S/O. We all love to love and be loved, but what that means looks different for everyone.
An individual’s love language encompasses the ways in which they feel seen, heard and appreciated, and if a partner can’t fulfil these needs, it might just be game over for the relationship.
So, what are love languages? Originating from a 1992 book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, his theory describes five different and distinct languages of love which sum up the range of ways a partner requires intimacy and support from another. An individual’s love language encompasses the ways in which they feel seen, heard and appreciated, and if a partner can’t fulfil these needs, it might just be game over for the relationship.
These five unique styles were formulated by Chapman after an extensive career in marriage and relationship counselling, and although many of us will find crossover in the categories and appreciate characteristics of all five, Chapman believes we each have a primary language that resonates most. He goes on to say, “people tend to criticise their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need”, and you best believe we’re making 2021 the year of having our emotional needs fulfilled.
So, what is your love language?
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty! The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch and receiving gifts. Which are you?
Words of Affirmation
In many relationships ‘actions speak louder than words’ is a wise proverb to live by, but not so much for those who fall into the words of affirmation camp. Verbal words of affection such as saying ‘I love you’ frequently, receiving handwritten notes or cards and being reminded regularly how much you mean to your partner is music to the ears of a words of affirmation lover. This love language is the most common of all five and is the only language which has verbal communication at its heart. Feeling appreciated, valued and loved is at the core of this language and can only really be fulfilled by someone who is willing to voice their feelings of appreciation and love out loud.
Phones away, TV off, attention focused. Those who value quality time feel most secure when they have the undivided attention of their partner and are making new and intimate memories together. Quality time might include date nights or special trips, but at its core it simply means prioritising your partner within your day-to-day schedule and soaking in those moments completely. For a lover that values quality time, they feel most at peace when a partner is listening, valuing and appreciating the time you have together, be it big or small. Making time for moments like a five-minute spoon before the morning alarm goes off, a lunchtime walk and debrief round the block or sitting down together to eat dinner at the same time will go a long way for lovers of quality time.
Acts of Service
The opposite to words of affirmation, acts of service lovers crave someone who can help them with tangible problems and that makes the effort to help your life run a little easier where possible. Your legs will likely go weak at the knees for someone who notices when you’re stressed and offers to sort dinner, return that ASOS order you’ve been meaning to send off or proof read the brief you’re stressing about. You want actions, not words, and will fall quickly for anyone with a desire to take some stress off your plate.
Sorry physical touch guys and girls, the pandemic has really thrown a spanner in the works on this one. Those who value physical touch crave hugs, kisses and every kind of physical intimacy. You can’t relate to those who say public displays of affection are OTT and feel most valued when physically close to your partner. Sitting opposite each other at a dinner party – no thank you! The closer the better for these lovers who live for hand holding, back rubbing, arms around shoulders and a rub of the thigh (don’t we all). Emotional connection through touch is where it’s at for these guys.
Often mistaken as materialistic or shallow, those who value gifts aren’t all about the item itself, but the sentiment that comes with it. These lovers feel valued and prized when receiving a thoughtful and meaningful gift from a partner, as the memories and contentment this evokes will stay with them forever. The symbolism of a gift is what this love language is really about, so whether it be an anniversary, birthday or simply a ‘just because’ gift, there’s nothing that makes their heart sing more than a small memento of love. This language is especially important for those in long distance relationships or who don’t live with their S/O, as these small tokens of love are tangible, everyday reminders of one another and go a long way in cementing this connection.
Where might you be going wrong?
It’s all well and good looking inwards and working out what makes you tick, but if you’ve been showering your partner with love that relates to your own language and not theirs then it might explain where you or others have missed the mark in the past. If you love receiving a ‘I saw this and thought of you’ gift but your partner would rather spend undivided quality time together then you need to be open to adapting your means of expressing your love to truly fulfil their needs.
In the same vein, communicating your own needs is the pinnacle of a successful relationship, because as much as we might like to think so, our partners can’t actually read our minds. Your S/O may be left feeling inadequate if they can’t get a grasp of your unique love language, which is where you need to step in as translator. Be open and specific about what makes your heart feel full and you’ll basically be fluent in relationship success. Who knew it could be so simple!