Do you ever feel that your partner doesn't understand you? If so, you may be experiencing a love language mismatch. This guide will detail the love languages and how to identify which one(s) you and your partner share. I'll also provide tips for overcoming love language mismatches and creating a more fulfilling relationship.
Coined by author Gary Chapman in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages, the term love languages describes how people prefer to give and receive love. Because of our different upbringings, cultures, and personalities, we all have different desires when it comes to love.
Identifying the love language of each partner is an excellent place to start when you're trying to increase intimacy in your relationship. As you learn more about each love language, you can identify new ways to show your partner that you love them.
What are the love languages?
While there's no right or wrong way to express love, knowing the different love languages in relationships of all kinds can help you better communicate your needs and desires with your partner. Most importantly, learning more about love languages can help you understand what your partner needs from you.
There are five main ways people give and receive love from one another. Everyone has a primary love language, which is the way they most prefer to give and receive love. However, most people also have a secondary love language, which is the way they second-most prefer to give and receive love.
Do you recognize any of these expressions of love in your loved ones?
1. Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are the things we say to express love. When a person's love language is words of affirmation, they'll want to exchange "I love yous" a lot. Words of affirmation can also take the form of compliments, cute text messages, and verbal expressions of appreciation.
For example, they might feel loved when their partner tells them they're doing a great job or expresses gratitude for something they've done. Conversely, people who prefer Words of Affirmation might feel unloved if their partner criticizes them or withholds compliments.
Quick tips for expressing words of affirmation to your partner:
Tell them how much you appreciate them
Let them know how lucky you feel to have them in your life
Express how grateful you are for their presence in your life
Tell them how much you admire and respect them
Let them know how proud you are of them
Thank them for their support and love
Things to avoid:
Criticizing or nitpicking
Putting them down
Making them feel guilty
Using sarcasm or irony
If you want to make sure your partner feels loved and appreciated, take the time to learn about which words of affirmation make your partner feel most supported.
2. Quality Time
If your love language is quality time, you probably enjoy going on dates, eating meals together, or spending the evening on the couch with your partner. Defining what quality time means to you and your partner is essential. Talk to your partner about their perfect day spent with you so you can plan a great date.
Quality timers feel loved when their partner makes time for them, and they feel neglected when their partner is busy or distracted for long periods.
Quick tips for sharing quality time with your partner:
Plan special outings or date nights
Make time to talk and listen to each other
Engage in activities together that you both enjoy
Share new experiences together
Take the time to just be with each other without distractions
Things to avoid:
Spending too much time talking about work or other stressors
Focusing on negative aspects of your relationship
Spending too much time arguing or engaging in conflict
Allowing outside distractions to take away from your time together
No matter how busy your life is, it is important to make time for your partner. By showing them that they are a priority in your life, you can deepen the connection between you and create a stronger foundation for your relationship.
3. Giving and Receiving Gifts
Ah, the romantic trope of being surprised by a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates! If this sounds like the pinnacle of romantic gestures, your love language might be receiving gifts. But, if this is your partner's love language, make sure you budget for it.
Even small gifts can go a long way in expressing and receiving love. It doesn't have to be an expensive gift — it could be something as simple as a card, flowers, or a homemade meal. And remember, it's the thought that counts.
People who love receiving gifts might feel unloved if their partner never gives them gifts or if they only receive practical gifts (like socks or a toothbrush).
Quick tips for giving gifts to your partner:
Talk to their friends or family about what they like
Consider what your partner needs
Pay attention to hints
Surprise your partner with small tokens
Get creative with your gifts to keep them guessing
Things to avoid:
Getting your partner something that you want
Getting your partner something that is too expensive
Waiting until the last minute — these types know when gifts are planned vs. rushed
It's not the gift itself that matters, but the thought behind it. If you put some thought into your gift and show that you care, your partner will appreciate it no matter what.
4. Acts of Service
Acts of service are things that we do to show our love. It might be your love language if you find it sexy when your partner helps out around the house. Acts of Service can also include taking care of your spouse when they're sick or running an errand for them.
People who love acts of service might feel neglected if their partner doesn't help out around the house or if they don't pitch in when there's a big project to be done.
Quick tips for performing acts of service for your partner:
Pick up their favorite snack on the way home from work
Send them a text during their break at work
Cook dinner for them after a long day
Do something that you know they need help with, but don't like to do (i.e. take out the trash, vacuum)
Things to avoid:
Trying to "one-up" them with your acts of service
Avoiding chores and errands around the house
Not following through on your promises to help out
Making them feel like they owe you
When it comes to acts of service, it's the thought that counts. No matter how big or small, your partner will appreciate the gesture.
Some degree of physical intimacy is a hallmark of any loving relationship. Cuddling, caressing, and kissing are sweet ways to connect with your partner. If your partner loves a morning spent in bed and greets you with a warm hug after a long day, their love language might be physical touch.
If your partner's love language is physical touch, they might feel neglected if you don't touch them often or if you avoid physical intimacy for too long.
Quick tips for showing physical affection to your partner:
Hug and kiss them as part of your greeting and departing ritual
Surprise them with intimate encounters
Sit close to them when you are watching TV or talking
Hold their hand when you are walking together
Give them a massage after a long day
Things to avoid:
Withdrawing affection if they do something that upsets you
Not returning their affection
Using physical touch as leverage to manipulate them
If you want to show your partner that you love them, it is important to be thoughtful about how you express yourself.
Can love languages improve intimacy?
Love languages give you a new insight into the things your partner values most in your relationship. It's part of understanding what makes them "tick." Once you know your partner's love language, you'll naturally identify ways to show them that you love them and how to improve intimacy between you.
We all have a primal need to love and be loved - whether familial love, platonic love, or romantic love. And so often, those little gestures allow us to let our guard down and be vulnerable with our loved ones.
As our lives become more and more complicated by day-to-day stress and routines, connecting through acts of love becomes much more critical.
Learning your partner's love language means understanding what you can do for your partner to help them feel safe and secure — and that security is the foundation of all intimacy.
Can love languages help you avoid conflict?
Sometimes, conflict arises within marriage because we fail to recognize our partner's love language. If you're not "speaking their language," your partner might not feel like you're doing enough to show them you love them.
Imagine a scenario where you shower your spouse with gifts, but they begin to harbor resentment because you never help out around the house. You may be expressing your love sincerely, but you're not speaking their love language!
These situations are a common occurrence in my practice. Learning about each other's language is vital in healing a damaged relationship, especially for high-conflict couples. Once you know their love language, you'd be surprised by how many opportunities you suddenly find to remind your partner that you love them.
How do you know your love language?
There are a few different ways to identify your love language. One way is to think about how you express love to others. For example, do you like to do things for them, or do you prefer to tell them how you feel? Do you want to spend time with them, or do you like to give them gifts?
Another way to identify your love language is to think about how you feel when your partner expresses love to you. For example, do words of affirmation make you feel loved, or do they fall flat? If acts of service are meaningful to you, does your partner know what kinds of things you appreciate?
Maybe you know your relationship well enough to pinpoint your love language preferences on your own. For most people, the answer isn't so easy. First, take a love language test with your partner and compare your answers.
Once you've identified your love language(s), it's important to communicate this to your partner. This way, they can be aware of how they can best love and support you. Then, think of a few ways you can show your partner that you love them — in their love language.
Do you have a love language mismatch with your partner?
If you feel like your partner isn't speaking your love language, it's important to communicate this to them. It can be challenging to open up about these things, but it's essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Love language mismatches can often be resolved by simply communicating your needs to your partner.
However, if you're finding it difficult to communicate with your partner, or if you're not sure how to overcome a love language mismatch, couples counseling can help.
Find out if couples counseling can improve your relationship.
Call 833-934-3573 for your free, no-obligation consultation. Or, click below to schedule your first appointment.