Do you know your love language? The concept of “love languages” has been getting buzz for some time now.
Developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., a renowned marriage therapist and author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, the love languages are designed to help you and bae love each other better. Sounds like the kind of class you want to sign up for, no?
“Working with couples, Chapman noticed them coming in reporting not feeling loved by their partner,” says Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, an integrative holistic psychotherapist in New York. “Upon further investigation he learned they both were loving their partner in a certain ‘love language,’ and when they didn’t feel love coming back in the same language, they felt unloved.”
To understand the power that learning to speak your S.O.’s language can have on your relationship, you first have to know what the five love languages are:
Words of Affirmation: This language is all about vocally affirming your loved ones. Think lot’s of “I love you,” “You’re so awesome,” “I’m so proud of you.”
Acts of Service: For some people, actions speak louder than words. Instead of having a partner gush about their love, people with this love language would show it by volunteering to do a chore, offering up an indulgent massage, or making dinner.
Receiving Gifts: Gifts are another way to the heart. It’s not necessarily about dropping a lot of cash—even little gifts like picking up a favorite magazine at the grocery store or bringing home a partner’s fave flavor of kombucha can speak volumes.
Quality Time: For some lovers, getting undivided attention is the best gift of all. People with this love language feel most loved when their partner switches into airplane mode for date night.
Physical Touch: Pretty self explanatory. Sometimes nothing says I love you like holding hands, sharing a shower, or a good old-fashioned makeout session. (Make physical touch more romantic with the Intimate Earth Massage Oil from the Women’s Health Boutique.)
What’s My Love Language?
To figure out which category you fall into, ask yourself when you feel most loved in your relationship. Is it when your partner sends you a romantic text? When they prioritize spending the whole day with you on Saturday?
Make a list of the top three things your partner does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and ask your partner to do the same thing. “You will probably start to notice a pattern,” says Hendrix.
We asked men: Who should say “I love you” first? See what they had to say:
Learning Some New Language Skills
Okay, so now that you’ve studied up, how can you use your language skills to improve your relationship? The idea is that you want to speak to your partner in the love language they value most and vice versa. For example, if your partner’s love language is “Quality Time,” showering bae with gifts is nice but isn’t what he or she really wants.
Understanding love languages can also help you understand your partner’s intentions better, says Hendrix. Take this couple, for example:
“One partner might say she shows her partner love because she writes him love notes and places them in his jacket and leaves him cards for no reason. But she feels unloved because he never does the same for her.
Her love language is ‘Words of Affirmation’,” Hendrix says. “Her partner might respond by saying ‘How could she say I don’t love her? I take out the trash every night, I make sure her car has gas in it, and I walk the dog every day.
His language is ‘Acts of Service’. If this couple isn’t aware that they are both feeling love for each other but expressing it differently, then they could be headed for trouble.”
The truth is, most couples do have different love languages—and that’s totally okay, says Hendrix. The idea is that by learning your love languages, you can understand each other better.
Loving Up Your Relationship
Learning your love languages is like getting a Rosetta Stone for your relationship. Now you know exactly how to hit the bullseye when it comes to showing each other a little L-O-V-E.
“Once we know what our primary love language is, we can share it with our partner and ask that they direct their love efforts in our language,” says Hendrix. “Understanding our partner’s love language also helps us to know we are loved even if our partner sometimes shows love in their love language instead of ours.”
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