Everyone approaches relationships differently. People come from different backgrounds with different perspectives, different expectations and different likes and dislikes. However, just about everyone is searching for the same thing: love. Everyone needs love — in fact our human nature requires it — but it can be difficult to find perfect compatibility with someone. According to Gary Chapman, author of “5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts,” there are five love languages, or ways that people speak and understand emotional love. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Olivia Pitkethly, a marriage and family therapist, said that, for couples, learning each other’s love language is imperative to communicate more effectively and create a deeper emotional intimacy. By learning your partner’s love language, you are telling them, “You matter. I care about you and I want to understand where you are coming from.” We bring different experiences into a relationship and that influences our love language. If one partner learned to express love through affection, but the other learned by acts of services, there can be a miscommunication. Not understanding where each other is coming from can lead to disappointment, feeling unappreciated and resentment. You can discover your own primary love language by evaluating what you desire most and what makes you feel loved. However, because people have different primary love languages, if you learn to speak the love language of your significant other, it will lead to a happy relationship.
#1: Words of Affirmation
“One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up,” said Chapman. Our words can be a powerful communicator of love that makes our significant other feel appreciated and cherished. Be conscious of the way you speak using, simple compliments or words of appreciation. Using kind and humble words and focusing on your delivery is also important when expressing yourself to the person you love.
#2: Quality Time
People who spend time together but do not fully commit to it by looking at their phones, seeming disinterested and not paying attention are not really spending quality time with their significant others. To spend quality time with someone, give your undivided attention and have a quality conversation. In our busy lifestyles, time is a precious, so it is important to make the most of the free time you have by making time for activities with your significant other.
#3: Receiving Gifts
Gifts are more than just something you buy for someone. In relationships, they can be a reminder of love. A gift is something you can tangibly hold or touch and know someone was thinking of you. Chapman said gifts are “visual symbols of love,” that can be purchased, made or found. Do not wait for a special occasion — give a gift to your loved one to let them know that they are constantly in your thoughts.
#4: Acts of Service
This love language does not mean doing nice things for others, but more so doing things you know your significant other would like you to do, just to make him or her happy. This could be something as simple as making the bed or doing the dishes, but you are expressing your love by doing things for someone else. These acts must be freely given and not seen as a burden or chore.
#5: Physical Touch
According to Chapman, “Physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love.” This may seem obvious, but holding hands, kissing, embracing and making your significant other feel loved through touch is a powerful form of communication. Because touch is not localized to any one area of the body, it can take many different forms. Physical touch can make your significant other feel comfortable, safe and, most importantly, loved.