Becoming Love Language Literate
Variety is the spice of life, and that’s definitely true when it comes to our love lives. We all move through the world differently, have different needs, and ways of relating. Somehow as humans, we figure out how to balance these different needs and desires and blend them together to create harmonious relationships – at least we try to. One of the ways we can help make this process more enjoyable, especially in romantic relationships, is by understanding how love languages work. If you’re not familiar with the love languages yet, or you need a refresher – we’re here for you. Not only that, we’re going to give some practical tips on how you can use the love languages to get more juiciness out of your relationships. It’s time to become love language literate!
What’s a Love Language?
No, we’re not talking about French although that can be quite the sexy language. The love languages are the different ways that people tend to give and receive love. Sometimes even when they have the best of intentions, we don’t always feel appreciated by our partners and other people we’re in a relationship with. According to the love language theory, when that’s happening it may be because we’re not being met in the ways we need. The five love languages were originally developed in 1992 by Dr. Gary Chapman, a counselor, pastor, and author. Through his years of counseling couples, Dr. Chapman was able to recognize patterns about why couples misunderstood each other and their needs. From this, he developed the “Five Love Languages” theory and wrote multiple bestselling books on the topic and other related subjects. The love languages can help us understand not just be how you want to receive love, but also how you tend to give it. While they’re typically discussed in the context of romantic relationships, the love languages can be applied to any dynamic including friendships and family relationships. One of the biggest critiques people have around the theory is that it promotes heteronormativity. Given Dr. Chapman’s background, he tended to work primarily with heterosexual couples, and that’s the context he discusses his theories through. If you take this with a grain of salt, you can still use the love languages as a helpful learning tool in your relationships. Most people identify with more than one love language, if not all of them. But there tends to be one that has the most impact on how you give and receive love. Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can use them in your relationships.
Words of Affirmation
‘I’m so proud of you for how far you’ve come.’ How does that make you feel? If hearing that makes you grin ear to ear, your primary love language might be words of affirmation. People with this love language love it when people use verbal language to express affection towards them. They feel seen and acknowledge when they receive encouragement and compliments.
How do you let words of affirmation person know you love them?
- Send them a text message saying you’re thinking about them.
- Letting them know how well they did something.
- Sending them a poem you wrote about them.
- Sending a voice message telling them why they’re so special to you.
How do you feel when someone surprises you with a thoughtful knick-knack or present? If this makes you feel loved and supported, then receiving gifts is most likely your primary love language. People with this love language don’t just care about the gift itself. They appreciate that people put the time and effort into giving them something special. They feel like you really know them when you pick out a gift especially for them, no matter how small it may be. Even the smallest tokens of gratitude will lift them up and help them feel more connected to you. Your friends that are really good at giving gifts? It may be because this is their love language.
How do you express love to a receiving gifts person?
- Send them flowers.
- Surprise them with something they’ve been talking about or have had their eye on.
- Give them a gift for ‘no reason’, besides the fact that you’re thinking of them.
Do you feel constantly drawn to hug or touch someone that you love or are interested in? Then your love language might be physical touch. People with this primary love language receive love through physical affection. While physical affection is important in almost any relationship, these people feel especially reassured when they get regular, consensual, physical touch, outside of sex.
Want to show a physical touch person that they’re loved?
- Surprise them with a hug, touch of their back, or quick cuddle.
- Offer them a massage.
- Initiate mild PDA (public displays of affection).
- Give them a kiss on their forehead.
Do you ‘just want to be around’ the people that you love? Then your love language might be quality time. People with this primary love language feel loved when they get to spend time with the people that they love. They love undivided attention and may feel hurt if you cancel plans, or are on your phone, or are distracted while you’re hanging out.
Here’s how to show a quality time person that you love them:
- Make time to do their favorite activities with them.
- Carve out time to just hang out and do nothing.
- Practice active listening and eye contact when you’re talking with them.
Acts of Service
Do you love when the people in your life help take care of little things? Then acts of service might be your primary love language. People with this love language love it when people do nice things for them like errands, chores, or just taking care of the little details in life. These acts help them feel seen and validated.
Here are some acts of service to show them that you love them:
- Offer to walk their dog or take care of pets.
- Run to the store for them to get that one thing they needed.
- Wash the dishes without them asking.
The Importance of Knowing The Love Languages
What’s the benefit of being love language literate? Knowing your love language helps you advocate and communicate your needs while knowing your partner’s love language helps you be a better lover. They can also help you know how you might hurt a partner if you’re not meeting their needs and help you focus more on your partner need’s instead of just your own, helping to create empathy and increase intimacy. Taking the time to better understand human nature and relationship dynamics can help you grow as a person overall. If you want to learn more about your love language and your partner’s you can take the quiz on Dr. Chapman’s website.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.