How to love your partner the way they need to be loved

The way you express love might be different from how your partner wants to receive it (and vice versa).

There are numerous, different ways of expressing love: you can use your words or you can make gestures, both big and small. What you might see as the perfect expression of love may differ greatly from how your partner sees it. We all express love differently and we all prefer a specific way of receiving it. For this reason, you might find that your relationship can become stronger if you discussed your preferred and primary love languages so that you know how to love one another.

What are the different love languages?

Rossanna Snee explains that according to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, “there are five basic ways to communicate your love to your partner”. These five love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

Words of affirmation

If your partner’s love language heavily relies on words of affirmation then they probably value verbal or written expressions of love; that is, they like being told that they are loved and most likely appreciate receiving written love letters or texts expressing love. However, Snee points out that it is important to remember that ‘negative words can have a very strong impact in the other direction, so be very mindful of what you say and how you say it’.

Acts of service

For some people, small acts of service speak louder than words. This refers to doing little things that you know will relieve your partner from stress. According to Snee, these little acts of service could be something as simple as making the bed or doing the dishes. What takes little effort on your part might turn out to be a grand expression of love for your partner.

Receiving gifts

If receiving gifts is your partner’s primary love language, it is due to the motivation and intentions which they know lie behind the gift they are given. Snee gives her son as an example as she explains that he gifted his girlfriend a pair of wireless headphones after noticing that she always struggled untangling her old ones. For her, it was not the act of giving and receiving which expressed love but the motivation behind the gift – namely, the fact that he did not want her to struggle.

Quality time 

Spending quality time is always important in a relationship. However, for many, this is the preferred and primary expression of love. If this is true for your relationship, your partner may need more of your time and attention. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the hardest love languages as it requires a lot of time and effort on your part.

Physical touch 

Snee explains that by physical touch, Dr. Chapman refers to ‘hand holding, a shoulder squeeze, a hand on the back, little touches here and there’. Even if physical touch may not be your preferred choice of expressing love, it may be your partner’s preferred way of receiving it.

Knowing what your partner needs can strengthen your relationship.

When you find out what you and your partner both need, you will certainly see your relationship begin to flourish. Of course, knowing that they have a primary or preferred love language does not mean disregarding and dismissing the other expressions of love altogether. It just means giving more of what you know they need.

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