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What Is Your Love Language? 5 Ways People Show Affection

We’re all different, so it only makes sense that there’s more than one way to express affection too. Consciously or not, we choose the style of affection that suits our strengths and temperament the best - be it through quality time, acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, or words of support. Gary Chapman, the author of the best-seller The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts calls these styles love languages. 

Chapman developed his theory through years of marriage counseling; he claims that discovering your partner’s love language and knowing yours too can be empowering. It can become the key to deepening, growing, and supporting each other in a relationship.

The Five Love Languages

While all of us have two or three love languages in our arsenal, there’s always a primary one we connect with the most. Some people also prefer various love languages in different life situations, so feel free to experiment.

1. Quality time

5 Love Languages couple on a beach

In Gary Chapman’s experience, quality time is the most widespread love language of all. People who are partial to this language feel loved when their partner wants to spend time together with them. They value eye contact, presence, and active listening but feel ignored when you talk to them while doing something else.

Your partner’s love language is quality time if:

  • They expect undivided attention.
  • They love creating memories and sharing experiences with you.
  • They value time with you above all and rarely cancel mutual plans.
  • They hate it when you’re talking to them while watching TV or scrolling on the phone.
  • It’s important that you hang out together, even if you’re not doing anything.

Ways to express affection for a partner of this type:

  • Plan trips, dates, and other outings as often as you can.
  • Cuddle in bed for 5 minutes before waking up.
  • Don’t use your phone when you’re talking or spending time together.

Related article: 
14 Signs That Prove Your Partner Is Still In Love with You


2. Acts of service

5 Love Languages couple cooking together

The motto of people who belong to this group is “actions speak louder than words.” They feel loved when their partner makes a special effort to help. It can even be small things, like preparing a cup of coffee every morning, or cleaning the house when the partner had an especially tough week at work.

Your partner’s love language is acts of service if:

  • They are happy when you participate in domestic tasks and responsibilities.
  • They value it when you pay close attention to their life and step in when they need assistance.
  • They cherish it when you notice the little things.
  • They will take help over talk any day: e.g., doing the dishes instead of gifting flowers, preparing breakfast every weekend instead of planning an intricate date once a year.

Ways to express affection for a partner of this type:

  • After a long day, prepare them a comforting bubble bath. 
  • Offer to do a chore or task they hate.
  • Don’t forget about that morning coffee.
  • Go on a walk together.

3. Gift-giving

5 Love Languages Gift-giving

The people who value gift-giving as a sign of affection are a mirror reflection of the previous type. For them, no amount of attention can beat an elaborate gift. These people need a visual reminder to feel loved. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s thoughtful. Those who belong to this type will also put extra thought and effort into gift-giving.

Your partner’s love language is gift-giving if:

  • They love buying gifts for the holiday season and spend a lot of time choosing them.
  • They can get emotional over gift-giving.
  • Their gifts often reflect their own values and likes, and not necessarily yours.
  • They enjoy buying souvenirs to remember a trip or a memorable date. 
  • They get sentimental or nostalgic seeming objects they associate with specific memories.

Ways to express affection for a partner of this type:

  • Surprise them with their favorite food or snack.
  • Choose a gift that has meaning in your relationship.
  • Ask them for a gift idea - they’re sure to have a whole list prepared.

4. Physical touch

5 Love Languages couple in bath

People who are partial to this type of affection require physical touch to feel connected and loved. We’re all familiar with physical signs of affection; they include cuddling, holding hands, kissing, and of course, sexual intimacy. To people who prioritize physical intimacy, any type of touch also serves to establish an emotional connection.

Your partner’s love language is touch if:

  • They always hug or kiss you when you meet.
  • They enjoy public displays of affection (in cultures where it is accepted).
  • When your partner sits next to you, they always want to cuddle.
  • Sexual activities make them feel especially connected.

Ways to express affection for a partner of this type:

  • Comfort your partner by holding them.
  • Hug or kiss your partner hello and goodbye every day.
  • Express your love publicly - holding hands is a good start.
  • Prioritize intimacy, even if that means having a schedule.

5. Words of affirmation

5 Love Languages Valentine's day

Those with words of affirmation as their primary love language “love with their ears.” For these people, love is not love without written and spoken “I love you’s.” They love compliments, encouragement, likes, comments on social media, and any other verbal acknowledgments you can think of. If your partner belongs to this group, don’t even think of skipping that Valentine’s Day card, Happy Birthday song, or New Year’s message (you get the picture).

Your partner’s love language is words of affirmation if:

  • They respond very well to praise and acknowledgment.
  • They never miss saying "thank you," for whatever you did, and feel happy when you do the same.
  • They love hearing you say "I love you" over and over. 
  • They’re elated when you notice a nice outfit or change of haircut, as it shows that you are paying attention to them.

Ways to express affection for a partner of this type:

  • Express gratitude to your partner.
  • Write a spontaneous I love you card.
  • Surprise them with a bouquet of flowers and a card.

Related article: 
8 Ways to Create Emotional Security in a Relationship


The Power of Knowing Someone’s Love Language

5 Love Languages couple on bikes

Now that you know which languages you and your partner are partial to, what do you do next? Are there any benefits to this information? Certainly, yes. Chapman claims tapping into your partner’s love language is one of the simplest ways to improve and deepen a relationship. It’s not a fix to all relationship problems, but a way for couples to improve their connection in everyday life. 

Among the benefits, the author lists the following:

The more you care about the way you and your partner experience affection, the more in tune you become with their needs and emotions. Every time you try to understand and “speak” your partner’s love language, the intention alone teaches you to empathize with your loved one.

Apart from empathy and understanding, talking about your relationship can teach you to connect more intimately and deeply. When this happens, you’ll feel closer in a relationship. These findings were supported by a meta-analysis, which concluded that better communication equals more intimacy in a marriage.

5 Love Languages forever and always

When you strive to understand your partner's love language. and practice it rather than pushing your own style of affection on them, you’ll learn to be more generous. It is this generosity that will teach you to express love in a meaningful way.

The bottom line is, a knowledge of the five love languages opens the door to a more rewarding relationship. We often struggle to understand why our partners don’t understand our way of saying “I love you,” and the love language model allows us to express love in a more meaningful manner.

References: Verywell Mind, Mind Body Green, Healthline

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