Stop getting lost in translation.

Johnni Macke Mackenzie Dunn
Updated Sep 17, 2020 @ 1:07 pm
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Do you ever get frustrated with your partner or spouse because you feel like they're just not getting it? Maybe you're looking for some words of encouragement after a tough day but they think they can fix it by doing the dishes for you. Or maybe all you want to do is cuddle up on the couch with them but they choose to give you a lavish gift instead. It's possible that you could be speaking two entirely different love languages.

By now, there's a good chance you've at least heard of the love languages, but to really understand what they are and how you work, you should find out what yours is and what your partner's is, too. Knowing the love language of not only your romantic partner but friends, family members, and even co-workers, can help you better communicate with those around you and allow your relationships to thrive. Here's the lowdown on the love languages.

What are the love languages?

The love languages are different ways we each express and receive love. There are five of them in total, and the concept was created by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., a marriage and family counselor. He used his experience working with couples to distill the most common issues down into different "languages" through which different people most prefer to show love. A thorough breakdown of each love language is provided in Chapman's book The 5 Love Languages and we have to say, even though it was published in 1992, the tips are honestly timeless.

To find out what your love language is you can take an online quiz designed by Chapman himself. Mind you, finding out your love language is a tool you can use to better communicate your needs in a relationship. Just because you and your partner may speak different love languages does not mean you're incompatible.

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The five love languages are: Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. All of these describe how you feel most loved and how to make your emotional love better. Of course, keep in mind, not everyone communicates their love in the same way.

1. Words of Affirmation

To this person, it's all about verbal communication and acknowledgment with words. This can be through text messages and social media engagement, face-to-face interaction, or good old-fashioned notes. According to Chapman in an excerpt from his book, one way to express your love is to use words that build others up. This can be in the way of compliments on one's appearance or achievements as well as pats on the back with your words. Frequently saying "I love you," "I am proud of you," and "I am here for you," will make someone whose love language is words of affirmation feel seen and validated in the relationship.

2. Acts of Service

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Acts of service can mean a variety of things, but mainly, it means understanding what your significant other likes and making that happen in a physical way. For example, trying to please someone by doing something you know they’d like to do, or more importantly, doing something they would want you to do. Perhaps that means cooking a meal or setting the table for your loved one. Maybe it’s as easy as taking out the trash before you’re asked or lending a hand with an at-home project.

For this specific language remember that actions do speak louder than words.

3. Receiving Gifts

This language is one of the more straight-forward ones. It is a simple idea of making your loved one feel cherished and appreciated by giving. No, it’s not about buying them expensive jewelry or spending a large amount of money on a lavish honeymoon—although those are very nice—it’s about showing someone that you took the time to think about them.

"Gifts need not be expensive," says Chapman in his book. "After all, it’s the thought that counts. But I remind you, it is not the thought left in your head that counts; it is the gift that came out of the thought that communicates emotional love.”

Getting your partner a gift, of any shape, size or price proves that you stopped for a minute and thought about what they might want and then followed through and got them something to improve their day. If your spouse isn’t a big “gift giver” and you love buying things for them, then you speak different love languages. The good news is, this one is the easiest to learn, because it just takes time to realize even if you don’t think your gift is what someone would want you did think of them, so it’s a step in the right direction.

4. Quality Time

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This one is easy to understand but can be harder to make work in everyday life. People with quality time as their love language want just that: uninterrupted, individualized time, and attention. This means cutting out distractions (ahem, your phone) and creating special moments together, just the two of you. Focusing on the other person and engaging with them is key.

5. Physical Touch

Physical touch has always been a big part of a relationship and communicating the emotional love we strive for. For some people, however, not having the hand-holding, kissing, and hugging, as well as the intimacy of sex, makes them feel unloved. To fix this, sit close to your partner or put your arm around them as you walk out of a restaurant, give them a small kiss on their forehead, or gently stroke their face to reassure them that you do love them.

What the love languages mean:

While you don’t have to use all five different languages in your relationship—they can be helpful to know. By taking the quiz and identifying what type of language you respond to most, you can see what you might need more of in your relationship to take the emotional love up a notch.

Some couples will even have the same love language, which means they like the same type of love, and therefore, don’t need to change. Others will have opposite love languages, which just means their partner needs to learn what makes them tick on the love-o-meter.

The reason people find these “languages” to be so important for relationships is because of their ability to touch upon something they might’ve not understood they needed. If you find out your partner is a “acts of service” person then getting them their morning paper, because you know it will please them could be an easy way to spice up your romance and make them feel loved, when you normally would’ve thought, “why can’t they do it themselves?” It’s just another way to help a relationship move forward on an emotional level that is easier to comprehend.