The way we express or receive love, respect, and admiration is different for everyone, and in many cases, your “love language” (quite literally, how you communicate love) can be different from that of your partners’. This means that if you are showing your partner love and affection in only in the ways you understand love and affection, you may be communicating to them in the wrong way — and vice versa.
Understanding your love language will go a long way for your personal emotional intelligence. But, if you can get in tune with your significant others’ love language, you may be able to alleviate some communication problems in your relationship. Understanding the five love languages isn’t just for dating or marriage either; knowing how your boss or coworkers communicate respect and appreciation can provide you with the right ways to connect with peers around the office.
What Is a Love Language?
In the 1995 book The Five Love Languages: How To Express Heartfelt Commitment To Your Mate, Gary Chapman came to the conclusion that there are five ways people comprehend and express love. After many years of marriage counseling, he came to understand that people perceive love primarily in one of five ways — devotion and acts of service, gift giving, physical touch, spending quality time together, and words of affirmation.
For instance, where one person might feel loved through receiving a gift, another person would feel more appreciated with a hug or a kiss. Take, for example, choosing a wedding ring to get your partner. If they prefer to receive a gifts as their love language, a flashier wedding ring might be more appreciated by them. If your partner isn’t interested in gifts, but simply spending quality time together, they might not need a traditional wedding ring to flash around, but would be more content with a non-traditional wedding ring.
We all have a primary and secondary love language, according to this theory, in which we prefer and expect our partners to demonstrate emotional sentiments toward us. Knowing your love language, along with the love language of others in your close circle, is crucial to help keep healthy professional and romantic relationships.
What Are the Five Love Languages?
To understand how you prefer emotions to be displayed to you, and how others show and receive sentiments best, you must first understand the five love languages and what they entail. In this theory of communication, all people have a primary and secondary way in which they communicate feelings of love.
Devotion and Acts of Service
Acts of service include: cleaning the house, washing the dishes, or fixing something that your partner uses frequently — or anything that takes thought, planning, and time spent on your partner. If you find that you feel loved and appreciated when coming home from a long day at work to a home cooked meal, your love language might be acts of service.
Consider washing the dishes for your significant other and see how they react. If received well, you might consider doing other acts of service to show your partner you love them in terms that they understand and respond to. In the workplace. If you are trying to explain to your coworker or boss your appreciation, try taking on a light project of theirs if you know they are having a busy day at work. In many cases, little acts of service like these can go a long way to show someone you care.
Prefer to show your love by pampering your partner with gifts and spending money on them? Or, maybe you personally enjoy a physical representation of your partners’ love. If your love language is receiving gifts, it is not necessarily about the money spent, it is about the thought and physical reminder that your significant other was thinking of you.
The classic example of gift giving in a romantic relationship is jewelry, especially a wedding ring. But it can also include little gifts such as buying your partner a bouquet of flowers. If you notice a manager or coworker who enjoys gifts, buy them their favorite candy, or something nice for their work space. If you’ve ever heard “I’m just not a gift giver,” or “I don’t need any gifts, just do something nice for me,” you can cross off gift giving as their primary love language, and should experiment in showing your love and respect in other ways to connect with your partner or coworker.
In today’s world “traditional” wedding rings are now being replaced with wedding rings that reflect the subtleties of many forms of love. So, before you buy that flashy wedding ring, examine whether your partner would rather you buy them a more modest tungsten ring instead.
Kissing, hugging, and other forms of intimate physical touch are perhaps the most commonly displayed form of love. However, your physical displays of affection may not be how your partner best feels love, as physical touch is not their primary love language. In a romantic relationship, touch is not always the ultimate demonstration of love. You may find that you or your partner feel a deeper intimacy by gestures of another love language.
If physical touch is the primary love language of you or your partner, ask them to spoil you with hugs and kisses, or cuddle them on the couch while watching a movie. If you notice someone in the office is a physical touch person, give them a friendly pat on the back or a high five in celebration of a job well done.
“I enjoy long walks on the beach” is often the expression of a person whose primary love language is quality time. Having quality talks with your partner, going on walks, and giving your partner your undivided attention will be much appreciated is this their primary love language. If you’d rather your partner put the devices away, turn away from the TV, and ask how your day went, your primary language may be quality time. You can extend this knowledge to people who enjoy quality time in the office by talking to them over lunch and giving them a listening ear on tough days.
Words of Affirmation
“Sometimes, all your partner wants to hear is those three little words…” This adage is indicative of a person whose primary love language is words of affirmation. If you or your partner respond best to words of affirmation, tell your partner you love them frequently, or ask them to validate your feelings through their words. Words of affirmation don’t come in a physical form, however you can engrave how you feel about your loved one on their ring for a loving message that will always be there for them, turning a gift into a permanent affirmation.
In the office, send your manager an email telling them how you respect them or tell a coworker that they knocked a presentation out of the park. Sometimes, people just need to be told that they are appreciated and respected to feel understood.
Why Your Love Language Is Important
Knowing your love language is beneficial in understanding your forms of self-expression; why you choose to cook a meal to show your appreciation for your partner instead of giving them a gift. Conversely, your love language may illuminate why you feel underappreciated because your partner bought you a gift instead of cooking you a meal. If you understand love in acts of service (preparing a meal for your partner), then you might like the same in return, instead of a gift.
Understanding how you express yourself among the spectrum of love languages will also help you recognize your partner’s form of preferred expression. This will allow you to assess your partner’s form of expression.If you know that your partner is a gift giver, you will know that you can get them a gift to make them feel loved. Similarly, when your partner gives you a gift, that this is their way of showing you love.
In this case, you can acknowledge that your partner is trying to express appreciation in terms that they understand, but you can also tell them that you prefer acts of service instead. This can cut out confusion in communication that many couples may face today, especially if they don’t feel loved. Your partner is likely showing you love, just in the ways that they understand. Keeping this information in mind can prove beneficial in fostering romantic and non-romantic relationships.
Using Love Languages in Romantic Relationships
Whether dating or married, using your love language in your romantic relationship can nurture a happy, healthy connection. In many cases, knowing your and your partner’s love language can dissipate some of the tension and stress that strained communication can produce.
Let’s say, for instance, that you express your love by making an effort to spend quality time with your significant other; setting aside time to listen to them and giving them your undivided attention. Your partner, however, expresses love and affection by showering you with gifts. In this instance, they might like gifts back, and your displays of quality time might not seem like a loving gesture to them. On the other side of the coin, you might like them to spend some quality time with you, while their main display of love is to buy you gifts. This misunderstanding can be solved by knowing and understanding the love languages of your and your loved one.
Love Languages at Work: Non-Romantic Communication
Of course, some demonstrations of love need to be kept strictly to romantic relationships, but you can still embody your love language knowledge in office relationships. If you understand that your coworker responds well to words of affirmation, send them an email or leave them a sticky note saying what a great job that they are doing.
If you know that your boss is a gift giver, buy them a morning coffee and a muffin to show your appreciation. Love languages don’t have to be exclusively intimate. You can show your coworkers you admire and respect them no matter their love language. Through this emotional intelligence, you can make your office environment a pleasant, friendly place to work.
Find Your Love Language: Tests for You and Your Partner
There are many online tests to help you find your love language. However, you can also find this information out by yourself. Finding your or your partner’s love language is just a matter of being aware of each option, and testing out the gestures associated with them. Ask yourself which way you would respond to each of the qualities of every love language to understand which one you are. Try doing the same to your partner to realize their love language. If this is too much for you, a love language quiz might help you get started.
How To Build Your Love Language Fluency
Now that you properly understand the five love languages, you can apply the knowledge to many aspects and relationships in your life. Knowing the five love languages can help you communicate better in dating, marriage, in the workplace, with your children, with your partners’ family, and many more relationships. As soon as you understand how the five love languages work, you can try out the methods on anyone to find out how to best show your love and appreciation to them. And, each time you test out these methods, your are one step close to understanding a person better. After a while this process will get easier, and you will become more fluent in the five love languages.