Ways to Show Your Partner You Care, Based on Their Love Language


Ways to Show Your Partner You Care, Based on Their Love Language
Photo by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

Originally published on February 8, 2022

“Love me, love me… say that you love me.”

As far as I’m concerned, the classic 90s song from The Cardigans sums up exactly how I prefer to be loved—through verbal affirmations. But how does one define the experience of expressing and receiving love? Luckily, there’s a book devoted to that very topic.

Written by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., and published in 1992, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts identifies five ways that we modern humans express and receive love. After first hearing about Chapman’s book from a former boyfriend, I felt compelled to purchase a copy myself. Pleasantly surprised to find it read more like a novella, rather than some clunky self-help book, I soon realized that not everyone communicates love in the same way and that people have different ways that they prefer to receive love.

So what are the five love languages and what are some concrete examples to help illustrate them in our real-life romantic relationships? Let’s dive in.

Words of Affirmation

Ah, words of love. Personally, I’m a glutton for them and don’t claim otherwise—I am a writer, after all. Whether that’s an “I love you,” a touching poem, or verbal encouragement, these gestures make me feel seen and, perhaps most of all, appreciated.

If you or your partner speak this love language, this simply means that you value words that communicate love, appreciation, and respect. Beyond the gold standard, “I love you,” other ways to show your partner you care include verbally acknowledging them when they’ve achieved something or perhaps openly expressing how you feel about them and the qualities you most admire.

Just as unkind words and criticism can be very upsetting to someone with this love language, so can inauthenticity. Make sure that if you say something lovely to your partner that it comes straight from the heart, not from a random book of compliments.

Quality Time

To quote the incomparable Bob Dylan, the lyrics to his song “To Be Alone With You” happily sum up this love language:

“To be alone with you
At the close of the day
With only you in view
While evening slips away
It only goes to show
That while life’s pleasures be few
The only one I know
Is when I’m alone with you.”

For those of you who light up when your partner suggests spending time with you and always seems down for hanging out, you’re looking at Quality Time as your love language. As the name suggests, this love language means you desire to spend meaningful time with your partner, not to mention active listening and consistent eye contact.

Those with this love language put a strong value on being in the same space as their partner—physically, emotionally, and mentally. So whether that’s starting a new TV series together on Netflix or taking a vacation together, it’s all about being actively engaged and present in the moment as a couple.

(Writer’s tip: Don’t have your phone out with Quality Timers. They often bristle at outside distractions, especially phones, which can take away from the connection.)

Acts of Service

Raise your hand if you love when your partner makes you breakfast in the morning, brews tea when you’re sick, or does the laundry without having to be asked.

If you raised your hand, you’re most likely looking at Acts of Service as your primary love language. This means you thoroughly appreciate a partner who just wants to make your life easier.

For those who identify with this love language, this means you firmly believe actions speak louder than words. Forget empty promises—you need someone to come through for you and show you that you can rely on them. Here it’s all about showing, not telling. This could range from doing the dishes to picking them up from the airport. It needn’t be grand, either—remember that your partner just wants to feel appreciated and helped.

It’s also worth mentioning that Acts of Service doesn’t mean that you are literally serving your partner. If you feel that your partner expects too much from you or that you simply don’t have the bandwidth in your daily schedule to “speak” this language, talk to them about it. An open dialogue is key to any healthy relationship.

Receiving Gifts

Although the name itself might suggest someone who is overly materialistic, people with this love language see gifts as representations of love. For them, receiving a gift demonstrates that they are seen, cared for, and ultimately prized by their partner.

Here, the price tag doesn’t matter so much—it’s more the level of thoughtfulness behind it. A handcrafted card means way more than a Hallmark card, for example. If your partner values the gift-giving process, they’ll be the first to say, “It’s the thought that counts.” The gifts you give them serve as objects to help them remember you were thinking of them, which immediately fills them with joy and love.

So what are some ways to show your gift-loving partner you care? On your next date or trip together, make sure to take a special memento home with you (e.g., a seashell from your beach vacation). When your partner sees this item, they’ll be reminded of those special moments you shared together. And it goes without saying that birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are extra special so use those days as a reminder to show your love and commitment.

Physical Touch

While some might recoil at the thought of PDA, others lavish it (ahem, yours truly).

Meet the Physical Touchers, whose love language revolves around physical signs of affection, including kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and, perhaps not surprisingly, sex.

When it’s consensual, those who speak this language feel warmth, appreciation, and comfort from the various forms of physical touch. Not sure if your partner is into physical touch? You’d know it if they were. Those who are tend to always want to be near you, physically, often sitting right next to you instead of across from you. To them, the closer you are, the better.

Little gestures such as a back massage when they’ve had a hard day or making time for physical intimacy in the evenings speak volumes. For them, a seemingly insignificant touch goes a very long way.

Final Thoughts

If you come to realize that you and your partner speak different love languages, don’t fret—see this as your opportunity to learn how to “speak” one another’s language. Not only does this help you understand each other’s needs better, but it also helps to foster growth within the relationship.

And remember, you might just show your love and receive your love in different ways. For example, you may enjoy giving gifts to your partner, but you actually prefer when your partner gives you their undivided attention (quality time).

Ultimately, it’s up to us as individuals to let our partners know what makes us feel loved and vice versa. You might just be surprised by how empowering it feels to share your needs, and how enlightening it may be for your loved one to hear those very needs said aloud.

BY Erin Huebscher - February 1, 2023

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February 8, 2022 7:11 pm

What if you or your partner falls into more than one love language? Maybe even all 5?

J Leap
February 8, 2022 11:53 pm
Reply to  Neilla

Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com. You’ll find that you will rank in all five, but you’ll definitely see what your #1 language is after answering the questions. It’s a great tool for communicating better with the ones you love! ❤️

February 9, 2022 5:25 am
Reply to  Neilla

I find that “variety is the spice of life”. I fall into all five. 😊 It gives me the opportunity to show my authenticity in all avenues. For my one and only, it makes my heart dance to be able to do for her. Without a doubt, in regards to her, she will have no doubts about where I stand with her (very close and damn near on top of her). Ahhhh, physical touch is EXTREMELY underrated. 😍🥰🤣🥰🤣😍

Angela Jones
February 16, 2022 5:48 am
Reply to  YoSco

I TOTALLY agree with everything that you stated! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words!

February 9, 2022 7:29 pm
Reply to  Neilla

This is interesting. It also awaken me .
How to be compassionate to my love one . A yes for me.🙏🙏

Mrs. Ellison
February 13, 2022 6:04 am
Reply to  Neilla

You focus on the one that he/she scores the most in. Also get the book it will tell you exactly how to handle all 5 love languages.

Amy Lafsky
February 9, 2022 7:28 am

Learning the love languages has changed my family, friends and anyone else that will listen, even work place
relationships. When you can use the knowledge gained to make every one in your life feel loved and appreciated it completely improves every aspect of life.
There is also guides for children and teenagers. The DVD is great too.
BTW everyone has the 5, but there’s an order of priority. (The one you’re most fluent in is the most important and so on…)

February 9, 2022 3:44 pm
Reply to  Amy Lafsky

This is awesome info! Where did you find the information for kids etc. I’d love to look into it more.

Nonkululeko Nhlabatsi
February 9, 2022 10:31 pm

I have read about the love languages somewhere sometime ago but never never was it put down in such a smooth manner as Erin has done. I am smiling from my heart and I have a new love connection that this article will help me explore.

February 12, 2022 7:33 am

My love language isn’t listed and it’s reciprocation. Then again it could be all of them if that’s the case🤔

February 12, 2022 7:20 pm

I feel there is more than 5. “WiFi” should be number 6 and “alone time” should be number 7. Think about how edgy people get when WiFi is slow or doesn’t work. As an only child, I didn’t realize how important alone time was.

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