How To Prove Your Love By 5 Love Languages

Show your love in a way your partner understands.

By Sara Kloepfer

When it comes to showing someone you care about them, there is no “right” way to do it; everyone gives and receives love in different ways.

But if you aren't on the same page as your partner about what you each need in order to feel loved, inevitable frustrations are likely to lead to miscommunications and mismatched expectations.
If that sounds familiar, please allow me to introduce you to the five love languages.

First defined by Dr. Gary Chapman in his ground-breaking book, "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate," love languages refer to five basic categories of ways people innately prefer to both give and receive expressions of love.
How To Prove Your Love By 5 Love Languages
How To Prove Your Love By 5 Love Languages

The 5 love languages are:

Words of affirmation
Quality time
Acts of service
Physical touch

Essentially, the way you show affection also tends to be the way you prefer to receive affection.

Most people have one or two love languages that they naturally gravitate towards. However, all five are important aspects of healthy relationships, so try not to just focus on only one at the cost of neglecting all the others.

Learning about your love language and the love language of your partner is a great way to address communication problems and resentments in your relationships.

For example, if you need your partner to tell you how much you mean to them (words of affirmation), but they show love by doing little errands for you (acts of service), you aren't going to feel valued in the way you need. Even if your partner is constantly showing you affection in the way that comes most naturally for them, if they aren't speaking the love language you understand, you're bound to misinterpret their meaning, leaving you both feeling frustrated.

You don't need to have the same love languages as your partner in order to succeed as a couple. Rather, you should each learn to identify, understand, and then speak in each other’s love language.

Doing this requires recognizing that what is important to your partner may be different than what is important to you — but how could that not be the case? Your partner grew up in a different family, perhaps in a different culture, and their own personal needs and expressions formed as a result.

Love languages are not just for romantic relationships, they can apply to friendships too. Every relationship dynamic depends on communicating your needs to each other, and love languages are a great way to simplify that.

If you and your partner don't know your love languages, it's pretty easy to figure out.

Observe how you each express love to each other and others, and take note of what you each request or complain about most often. Think about what usually works to comfort you each after a hard day — is it a pep talk, spending a cozy evening in together, surprising them with their favorite dessert, making them dinner, or cuddling?

If you or your partner’s love language is not immediately obvious, or if you'd like a more scientifically sound assessment, Dr. Chapman and his team designed some simple love language quizzes you can take.

Read on to learn more about how the five love languages are defined, and how to speak each.
Words of affirmation love language

Definition: Showing love by affirming the other person through your words.

Giving words of affirmation means unsolicited compliments, telling the other person what they mean to you, or sending them a text to let them know you are thinking about them. Hearing “I love you” is important, and hearing the reasons behind it even more so.

People who value words of affirmation need to hear you verbalize your feelings for them, and any criticism they receive may cut especially deep.
Quality time love language

Definition: Showing love by giving someone your full, undivided attention when you spend time together.

Giving quality time means being completely present, not just making an effort to spend time together. For people who value quality time, it is not so much about how much time you spend together, but how you spend that time.

When their partner is distracted when they are together, they can perceive that as being ignored or unappreciated. Postponing or flaking on special dates can be especially hurtful to them.

Improving quality time could mean making an extra effort to put down your phone, having deep conversations, or taking an interest in activities your partner enjoys.
Gifts love language

Definition: Showing love through gifts.

People who value receiving gifts are not materialistic, but rather, they appreciate not just the gift itself, but the thoughtfulness and effort behind it. The perfect gift shows that their partner listens to, understands, and cares about them.

They appreciate little everyday gifts, such as flowers, a note, or a coffee, and they may take missing a birthday or anniversary or a hasty, thoughtless gift very personally.
Acts of service love language

Definition: Showing love by performing practical tasks for someone.

Giving acts of service means doing unsolicited thoughtful or helpful things for your partner, such as doing the dishes, fixing their bike, or making them coffee. For people who value acts of service, actions speak louder than words. They may not always explicitly acknowledge their actions as acts of love, so take note of the little things they do to make your life easier. Laziness, breaking commitments, or making more work for them are signs of disrespect.

For people with disabilities or mental health issues, acts of service can be especially meaningful when they do not have the energy to do things for themselves.

Acts of service is also often a primary love language between parents and children; for example, parents perform tasks to take care of their children, while children do chores around the house to help out their parents.
Physical touch love language

Definition: Showing love through physical affection.

This does not always have to be sexual — it can mean holding hands, cuddling, or rubbing your partner’s back. People who value physical touch may place more value on PDA or have a higher libido, but not always.

If your physical desires are mismatched, or you are uncomfortable showing affection in public, you need to be very sensitive in how you discuss your boundaries.

If you do not respond to or reciprocate their touch, they may feel rejected, while thoughtful touches throughout the day show your concern and care for them.

Sara Kloepfer is a writer, editor, and designer.

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.

This article was originally published at Bellesa. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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