Your deepest relationships will always be the ones where each party feels loved and wanted. I am a firm believer of “not having to guess” and taking the easy way where possible, and in relationships I’ve found that the easy way is knowing your love languages.
Gary Chapman outlined the five love languages in 1995, and I was originally exposed to them while reading “Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married.” (I recommend this book without hesitation.)
It’s important to know your own love language so that you can make sure your relationships are meeting your needs. It’s also important to know what each of the love languages are since everyone’s love language is different. That way, you can better communicate in all of your relationships.
A brief overview of the five love languages:
- Acts of Service: Doing anything that lightens someone’s load (chores, responsibilities, to-do lists). Avoid: Laziness, broken commitments, making more work for the person.
- Gift Giving: Receiving gifts that show love, thoughtfulness, and effort and that show you are known, cared for and valued. This does NOT mean materialistic. Avoid: Hasty/thoughtless gifts, missing a special day.
- Physical Touch: Need physical presence and accessibility. Generally enjoy hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face. Avoid: Neglect, abuse.
- Quality Time: Strong need for full, undivided attention. Quality conversation and quality activities. Avoid: Distractions, postponed dates, or not listening.
- Words of Affirmation: Having conversations with words that are kind, positive, and encouraging. Receiving compliments. Hearing “I love you” and the reasons why. Avoid: Insults. They can be a devastating blow that is hard to forget, no matter the love language.
Click here to learn more and take the Love Language quiz. (I don’t have any affiliation.)
In each of my romantic relationships, I’ve shared my love language and asked my partner what their love language is as well. As a partner who makes a commitment to meet the other person’s needs, it’s important to know exactly what those needs are. If their love language is “Physical Touch” and all we do is talk from the opposite side of the couch, their needs will not be met and they will not feel happy or fulfilled. It’s ok to just ask! (I usually ask after a couple dates but within the first month, before a formal partnership is even established.) You will be able to communicate better, and will have a better understanding of how they communicate. Every time you speak to your partner with their own love language, you are strengthening your relationship and encouraging intimacy.
My primary love language is “Words of Affirmation.” In a romantic relationship, I need to consistently be verbally reminded that I am loved, wanted, and being thought of. This can come in the form of texts throughout the day, pillow talk in the evenings, phone calls during a drive, etc. If a new romantic interest is not able to give me this, it is important to end the “romantic” aspect of the relationship because it will never meet my needs. Knowing this about myself gives me an added level of clarity when dating. If they are unable to meet the need in the short term (when a relationship is new and interesting), it is unlikely that they will ever meet the need in the long term.
It is important to develop realistic expectations surrounding your love language as a screening method. For example, I would never expect someone to bear their soul on a first date, but I would expect to hear (and also give!) a few compliments. Later, I would expect our conversations to have more emotional intimacy and a higher frequency, most likely a couple texts throughout the day and a phone call just to say hello (at a minimum). It’s ok if this need is not met! It just means it wasn’t the right person to develop a partnership with, and it’s time to move on.
Within my family and among my other close relationships, this need manifests itself with conversations, either text or phone call, about once a week. I like to reach out and let them know I am thinking of them. When I go back to Michigan to visit or when friends come in from out of town, I often meet up with them at restaurants and we spend about two hours of uninterrupted time enjoying a conversation and a good meal. Most of my game nights involve food and a good conversation before the game starts. Even in my extended relationships, I often reach out once a month to check in. Enough back and forth is there that we can always pick up right where we left off.
When you know your love language, you can figure out exactly what your needs are from any relationship. I am able to feel more fulfillment out of each of my relationships because I know my love language. This brings substantial happiness into my life on a daily basis, no money required.