It seems like everyone knows at least a little bit about the five love languages.
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
Even without taking the quiz and deciphering their exact breakdown— though who wouldn’t want to, quizzes are fun — people tend to have a general idea of their preferred method of receiving attention and affection.
Knowing your love language is an important way to understand yourself and your own needs, which is crucial in a relationship so that you can best communicate those needs to your partner. But when considering love languages in the context of a relationship, people often miss the other, equally important piece: knowing and taking action with your partner’s love languages.
We Need to Show Up for Our Partners
Just like you want your partner to understand and utilize your love language, it’s crucial to prioritize theirs in the ways you choose to express your affection for them.
So often, I find people using their love language to explain why they express affection in a way that aligns with their own desires. Just as often, I see individuals excusing their partner for only expressing love in their own way because it aligns with their love languages.
Love languages aren’t about saying, “I like receiving gifts, so I only give gifts to express my love to others.”
Love languages also aren’t about saying, “I know my partner prefers physical affection, so I understand that they show me love through physical affection even though that’s not what I prefer.”
Love Languages are About Communication
Knowing your love languages — and your partner’s — extends beyond the self. One of the best ways to utilize the information available to you in knowing your partner’s love languages is the ability to use those languages to make your partner feel comfortable, loved and truly seen.
If you want your partner to show you love and affection in the way that you most desire, it’s safe to assume that they want the same thing.
You Can Put Their Love Language Into Action
I find that relationships are most successful when each partner considers the other partner’s needs. Just knowing their love language isn’t the end of the rope.
In knowing your partner’s love language, you have a unique opportunity to tailor your affection specifically to them.
For example, if your love languages are physical touch and acts of service, but you know your partner prefers quality time and receiving gifts, you can put yourself in their shoes and find them a gift that they’d love or an activity to do together to truly make them feel loved and appreciated, even if it might not be your very first instinct.
An example of where people get love languages wrong would be in that same situation, using your own love languages to express your love to your partner by giving them a massage or cooking dinner for them, despite your knowledge of how they prefer to receive affection.
No Two People Are the Same
Another way I often see the languages of love misinterpreted is when individuals think that having a different love language from their partner makes them incompatible with one another.
The reality is, people are more complicated than that. You don’t have to fit into the same exact mold in order to listen, love and be there for one another’s needs.
Having similar or overlapping love languages can make things easier at times, but if you’re willing to express what you need and listen to your partner when they express what they need, differing love languages simply act as an opportunity to learn more about each other.
Open Up a Dialogue
One of the best ways to use love languages as an opportunity to grow together in your relationship is to talk to one another about what types of behavior would make each of you feel loved.
Sometimes, just talking about love languages and preferences makes a world of difference. Try asking your partner, “What do I do that makes you feel loved?” or “What do you wish I did a little more of?”
Knowing what your partner needs in order to feel satisfied is one of the best ways to ensure that they feel the love that you’re giving them, rather than guessing or going off of your own preferences.
The Thought Really Does Count
One of the best ways to get into the habit of using your partner’s love language to help them feel seen is making sure you’re being mindful and taking the time to consider who they are as a person — their wants, needs and desires.
The more effort you put into showing them love in the way that would feel most significant to them, the more natural it will feel over time as you continue to put effort into your relationship.
While the five love languages are about self-reflection and learning about your needs, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. One of the most rewarding ways to use this knowledge in a relationship is by applying the information you know about your partner to make them feel comfortable and loved.