Different things make people feel loved. If you’re in a relationship and have been feeling like your love tank is empty, it is very likely that you and your partner speak two different love languages. The problem is that people tend to love others in the language that matters to them, rather than loving people in the ways they want to be loved.
In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, he presents a groundbreaking theory of the five languages that people speak to express their love. He helps people understand which love language they speak, and then shows you how you can learn what your partner’s love language is to reignite the love in a relationship that has grown stale as a result of the partners feeling mutually unloved.
The five love languages are:
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical affection
- Words of affirmation
Everyone has a primary and a secondary love language, and it is common for partners to speak two completely different love languages from one another.
I loved this book, because it helped me see how the men I’ve dated have tried to show their love to me in their own way, and how I was doing the same. We were speaking right past each other, though, and both of us felt unloved.
My primary love language is gifts, and my secondary love language is words of affirmation. I feel loved in a relationship when:
- I receive flowers.
- I get text messages throughout the day.
- I get surprised—like a surprise date that’s all planned out without my input.
- He tells me he loves me.
- He tells me how pretty I look.
- He initiates sex.
- He says nice things during sex.
On the other hand, many of the men I have dated spoke the love language of Acts of Service. Things they would do to show their love:
- Help me move into or out of my apartment.
- Drive me around to do my errands.
- Assemble my furniture.
- Cook for me.
- Give me a pedicure.
While I appreciated these things, they didn’t speak as loudly to me as gifts and words of affirmation did. Since I didn’t explicitly recognize that Acts of Service was their love language, I felt unloved when they seldom gave me gifts or didn’t tell me they loved me often. It turns out that they were just showing their love to me in a language that didn’t resonate very much with me.
I’m now realizing that some ways that I can show love to a man whose love language is Acts of Service are:
- Cooking for him. It doesn’t have to be something huge and fancy. Even packing him a lunch will make him feel loved. And of course—this is after some time has passed and he is grateful for your cooking. I advise from jumping right into cooking for men when you are dating, since many women have a tendency to give too much too soon and many men have a tendency to take cooking for granted when it comes very early in a relationship.
- Helping him strategize through a problem that is stressing him out. When men have a problem, they do not like it when women ask them repeatedly what is wrong or how they can help. It comes off as nagging and makes them feel like you don’t believe they can handle their business. However, when the man does ask for your help, this is when you can really support him and help him think through the problem. He will feel less stressed out and more loved after the strategy or action session. A man I was dating asked me to help him get a new wardrobe and that was one of the most fun days we ever had together. When a man asks for help, they are completely open to receiving your help and interpret it as a strong sign of your love for them.
- Scratching or rubbing his back. Men need soothing and love too. Scratching and/or rubbing a man’s back—whether in bed or just when sitting on a couch—will make him feel relaxed and loved.
It’s important to know your love language, so you can communicate to your partner via requests (not demands!) things that would make you feel loved.