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Love smarter, not harder: discover your love language

So many of us have the idea that the harder we work the better we’ll be. The more time we put in in the more effort we put in the better the results. 

This carries through not just then many things in our personal lives, but also our work life too. We may have learned this in school. This may be so ingrained and habitual to us, that the thought of doing something different seems a little bit strange. What if I told you that there’s a way to optimize the way we show love?

Over the course of this article, we’re going to discuss Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. This is all about learning how we and our partner share and receive love, and what we can do to show our partner that we love them in the most effective way.

Think of your relationship like a car

I want you to imagine that your relationship is like a car. We’re using an analogy here that’s adapted from Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages. You and your partner are both sitting in it as the driver and passenger. Now imagine that whenever you’re in a relationship, the engine is on. And what happens when the engine in a car is on? It uses gas. 

Over the course of this article, we’re going to learn about how to put gas in the tank in the most effective way. We’re going to talk about how to ensure that we’re putting in the right kind of gas and using the right kind of nozzle. This will help to ensure that our efforts are used in the most effective way.

An infographic describing a relationship like a car
Whenever you're in a relationship, it's as if you're in a car that's using gas. We have to learn to keep it running!

Imagine this. You and your partner are just starting out your relationship. You’re in the first phase – lust/romance – that you learn from our previous blog post on the Stages of a Relationship

You feel amazing, like you would do anything for your partner, everything is just so perfect and nice. You have so much love and admiration for them. And you feel so loved by them. If your partner asked you how loved you feel from a scale of 1 to 10, you’d probably tell them a 10. 

Do you know that feeling of all-encompassing love taking over your body? Those times when we stay at the thinking about our partners all day and we just can’t stop thinking about them, we’re so happy? The feeling kind of like we’re in heaven shared by so many love songs? This is what it feels like for some people when their love tank is full.

By love tank, we mean how loved you feel by your partner. So if you feel really loved by them, you’d say that your love tank is full. And if you feel partially loved by them, you could say it’s half full and so forth. It’s also a good indication of how much gas is in your relationship car.

We need to always ensure that we have gas in our tank. The more gas that we have, the better. This corresponds to the strength of our relationship at any given time. In the good times, we can fill up with more gas so that we have more to rely on when times are bad. And if our tank runs out, what happens? That usually signifies the start of the end of a relationship.

Whenever we’re in a relationship, the gas is being used. The engine is always running. And we need to learn how to fill up gas in the tank in the most effective way. This way, we can ensure the continuation of our relationship without exhausting our efforts.

When we first start a relationship, our gas tanks are full. This is the huge excitement of the beginning of a relationship. Those moments when we feel like we would do anything for each other. Yet what happens is after a while, this gas starts to go down and we need to learn how to replenish it. 

In the beginning, our efforts often aren’t so successful and we end up either putting in the wrong kind of gas or a lot of that gas gets on the floor. In Stages of a Relationship, this would be what we’d refer to as the struggle phase. By learning how to put in the right kind of gas through communicating with our partner, and ensuring that we use the right nozzle to make it enter the tank and not spill on the floor, we can get to the next stage – working

So many of us will get frustrated because we pay for 300 litres and only 50 of them get in the car. We get angry and say, “But I’m trying so hard!” What if there was a way to pay for less and get the same amount in the tank? This means learning how our partner wants to be loved and loving them in that way.

 

How do you share and receive love?

Gary Chapman, an American author and radio talk show host, introduced an amazing concept that totally changed the way we at Learn2Love think about love. 

Through his research and experience, he discovered that they are five main ways that people share and receive love. He writes about this in his book, The Five Love Languages, which has sold over 10 million copies and been translated into nearly 50 languages. Nearly 30 years after its first publication, it continues to rank as one of the best selling books around the world.

The idea behind this book is that people experience love differently, and don’t understand that about their partner. So they often try to show their partner that they love them in one language, such as Spanish for example. But if their partner doesn’t speak Spanish and speak German instead, they’re not going to understand what their partner is saying.

An infographic describing the 5 love languages
People tend to share and understand love in these five ways.

Somebody could speak the most beautiful Japanese in the whole world and really try hard to show you that they love you in Japanese. But if you don’t speak Japanese, that message is not going to get you. 

Just like people speak different languages, they also speak different love languages. These are ways that they share and experience love. Because people who don’t speak each other’s love languages won’t understand each other just like two people who speak different regular languages, it is so important that people communicate love in the way their partner will understand. 

It’s so important to discover our partner’s love language languages and communicate to them in that language.

 
Physical touch 

The first love language from Gary Chapman that we’re going to discuss here is physical touch. Physical touch, as you may have guessed, relates to any physical interaction such as touch between partners. This includes far more than just sex, but also things like holding hands, putting your arm around your partner’s shoulder, kissing, holding each other, and any other physical touch interaction that you can think of in your relationship.

If this is your love language, you will likely very much enjoy and long for whenever your partner touches you in romantic ways. Physical touch will make you feel very loved. The absence of physical touch, regardless of what else is occurring around you, may make you feel unloved. 

This is so important because if this is the case for you, and your partner’s love language isn’t physical touch, they’re not going to know that you feel unloved when you’re not touched in the way you want to be unless you communicate that to them. 

If physical touch isn’t the thing that makes your partner feel loved, maybe it makes them feel anxious instead, they may just think that physical touch makes you feel anxious too. That way, they won’t touch you as much as you’d like, and then you’ll end up feeling unloved, and they won’t understand that you’re feeling unloved or why you feel that way. That’s why it’s so important to have these conversations with our partners.

We can’t just assume that our partners feel the same things as us in reaction to the same situations. When we project our feelings onto one another, we are often confused or let down. This is because our partners will not always act in the way we’d expect them to feel, or that we’d feel in that situation. We are all raised differently, and we should accept this and see it as an opportunity to be curious and learn about each other more.

We can't just assume that our partners feel the same things as us in reaction to the same situations. Click To Tweet

 
Quality time

The next way that people share and experience love is through quality time. This includes any moments when you are fully present with your partner, such as having a conversation with them without your phone or something else to distract you. If quality time is your love language it may be really important to you that your partner isn’t using their phone when they speak to you. 

You may want them to make time to just be available and present to be with you. Things like having conversations about your day together may mean the world to you. You will likely want to do many things together and spend lots of time together.

This is so important to understand, because if your love language is quality time and your partner’s language is not, they may not understand how important it is for you to spend time together. This includes the importance of having many conversations together, or whatever might be the most important things to you. 

To them, using a phone during a conversation might not be such a big deal. By this, we mean that if you did it to them, maybe they wouldn’t think about it as something that’s bad. But if it’s something bad to you, you have to share that with your partner clearly and consistently so that they can understand you experience it differently – this is your love language.

Another extension of this love language is quality experiences. This includes things like travelling together, taking trips together, or taking other adventures together. Some people really enjoy travelling and experiencing adventures with their partner, and some people hate it. 

For many people, they love the comfort of their home and their town, and leaving it for pleasure might sound like a nightmare to them. However, equally so to others, this may be what they find the most exciting thing. 

This is why you have to communicate what you’re interested in with your partner because you can’t just assume that they like things in the same way as you do. You can’t just assume that to them, quality time or experiences is something that’s going to make them feel loved as strongly as it means to you. We can’t force our partners to change their love languages for us, but we can teach them to adapt the way they show love to us in the ways that make us the happiest.

 
Acts of service 

The next love language that we’re going to discuss is acts of service. This includes doing anything for your partner such as a chore, or really any act of service that helps them with something. This might include things like unloading the dishwasher, doing the laundry or picking up their dry cleaning on the way home. 

This may also include things like helping them organize their calendar, or if you know that they’re stuck with something you just offer to and help them with it. Any act of service.

For some people, these acts of service really important. Unloading the dishwasher or helping to organize the fridge may mean the world to them it. It may make them feel so loved, understood and happy that you have no idea why they would feel this way. Way happier and understood then it would make you feel of the same act of service was offered to you. This is not a bad thing, it’s just life! We’re all different, and that’s what makes life so beautiful.

For some, acts of service are not such a big deal or not so important to them. If their love language is quality time, it would mean a lot more to them to have a conversation, sit together and just be together instead of you going off to unload the dishwasher. But if acts of service are their love language, then you should really think about ways that you can do acts of service to make them feel loved. 

A little action in this domain, if it’s their love language, will go way further than if you’re trying to love them in another one. Remember: show them you love them in the way they understand love.

Show your partner that you love them in the way that they understand love. help someone who's stuck

 
Gifts

The next love language that we’re going to discuss here is gifts. Gifts, as you guessed already, are any kind of gifts, whether they be a physical gift, surprise, or time you share with your partner, depending on what they like. It can be a little thing like a card that you put in their lunch box or something big like new jewellery or something else that you get them. Some people really love gifts, they mean so much to them. And other people don’t find gifts that significant. 

I’m sure you know people in your life that really like receiving gifts and others who just don’t find them that amazing. If your partner is somebody who really likes gifts, then giving gifts to them may be the most effective way to show them that you love them. It doesn’t have to be a really big gift, remember, it can even be something small like a little card. Talk to them about it to find what they like the most. 

The same thing goes for our friends and our other relationships outside of our romantic one. If you have a friend who really likes getting gifts, then you can give them a gift if you want to show them that you appreciate them. And if your friend is not somebody who finds gifts the most effective way to show them your appreciation, you can talk to them about the ways that they want to be shown appreciation the most.

Some people feel uncomfortable when they receive gifts or find them awkward. And some people really love them. That’s why you have to talk to your partner about it and understand what makes them feel loved. This way, you can learn to love them in the way that’s going to be the most effective.

 
Words of affirmation

The last love language that we’re going to discuss here is words of affirmation. Words of affirmation are any things like compliments, validation, or just words that help people feel like they’re doing something right. 

For example, telling somebody that you really like the way they prepared lunch, or you think they’re a great cook, would be examples of words of affirmation. Another example is noticing what your partner is wearing and telling them something like, “I think you look so beautiful! I love this outfit on you today.”

If your partner likes words of affirmation, then you should focus on trying to give them more of them and in the style that they like them. It’s important to recognize that some people feel uncomfortable when they receive these affirmations. They may think about you want something for them or that you’re not being honest or genuine. 

I think this relates to people’s culture, friends and the way that they were raised. Some people come from cultures where they get compliments all the time. They learn to get used to getting compliments and see them as a sign that they’re doing something right. That means that if they don’t get a compliment from their partner, they may think that they’re doing something wrong. 

Other people come from cultures where they rarely ever get compliments. So for someone used to this, the absence of a compliment means that they’re doing something right. That means that continuing to get compliments for something may make them feel like you’re not being genuine with them. 

That’s why it’s so important to have a conversation with your partner about the way they want to receive words of affirmations and what they like. We can’t just assume that they want them or don’t want them based on the ways we were raised or what we think.

 Cultural sensitivity and competence extends into our relationships too! amplify this

 

How do I know what my love language is?

How do I know what my love language is? That’s a really great question. I’m so happy that you asked! There are a variety of ways to learn this. Here’s a checklist to get you started. We’re going to go through each point in more detail in this section:

An infographic to help determine your love language
Use this chart with your partner to help you discover each other's love languages.

The first thing to do is to think about when you want to show love to your partner, when you feel that you love them very much, what do you do to show them that you love them? This instant that you used to show them that you love them it’s very likely the way that you experience love.

Let’s say for example that you are really happy with your partner and you decide to bring them flowers on the way home to show them that. That may mean that your love language is gifts because you’re giving them a gift to show them that you love them. So maybe you want them to give you a gift to show you that they love you.

Another way to think about what your love language is is to ask yourself what are things that your partner does that make you feel very loved. What’s an example of something that your partner did recently that made you feel so special and like you mattered so much? For example, let’s say your partner told you, “you are so attractive! I just love the way you make me feel. I wouldn’t trade you for anyone, you mean the world to me” 

Maybe when they told you this your heart melted and it just felt absolutely amazing. Well, that’s an indication that maybe your love language is words of affirmation.

Another way that you can think about what your love language is it to ask yourself what your parents did to show you that they love you when you were younger. For example, did your parents show you love by making time for you when they were very busy? Did they often not spend so much time with you, but when you did something right, they made time to listen to you and be present with you? Well, that’s an indication that your love language may be quality time. 

If this is your love language, it’s going to be really important for you to have quality time moments with your partner.

Another thing that you can think about when trying to discover your love language is to ask yourself: what are things that your partner does that make you feel very hurt? The opposite of this will likely be your love language. 

For example, let’s say that it really hurts you when your partner looks at their phone while you’re having a conversation with them. That may mean that quality time is very important to you. Alternatively, let’s say that it really hurts you when your partner doesn’t help you unload the dishwasher or clean the floors. Well, that’s a sign that acts of service might be your love language.

 

Help! My partner and I have different love languages

So you’re reading through this article, discover your love language, and realize that your partner’s is very different to yours. What do you do? 

The important thing to realize here is that you’re not alone. Virtually all partners have different love languages in romantic relationships! Even if people have the same love language, they often have different variants of them based on they were raised. We’re all different! 

You’re not alone, recognize that you’re part of a large community of virtually everyone in a relationship that experiences similar challenges in adapting to love languages as you.

What you can do in this situation is to try to learn and be curious about how you can love your partner in the way that they want to be loved. Doing this also invites them to do the same thing with you. You and your partner can both make an effort to learn each other’s love languages and experiment through trial and error to find what works. 

Communication will be really important here to get it bang on. In healthy relationships, we all want to make our partners happy, and our partners all want to make us happy. It’s just easier to learn to do it in the most effective way.

You can start the love language conversation with your partner by proposing to them that you learned about this concept to make relationships even stronger. Tell them that you’re curious to try apply them in your relationship and you’d love to have a conversation about it with them. Ask your partner when they have time, and then when you have time together go over the questions on finding your love language with each other. 

Try to guess each other’s love languages too, – it’s so interesting and fun to see if you can get them right! Remember also that our love languages may change a bit with time and that this is ok. That’s why it’s always important to keep communicating about them with our partners to ensure that we’re loving each other and the way that we want to be loved.

A way that you can check in with your partner on how good of a job you’re doing at loving them according to their love language is just to ask them, “how’s your love tank?” Ask them to respond with a number between 1 and 10.

If they give you an answer less than 10, ask them what you can do to make them feel more loved. This great this is an opportunity to get close to each other, learn about each other more, and even prevent fights from happening. By catching moments when the love languages go down early, you can better prepare for and prevent the holding in of tension until it explodes two weeks later in a fight. 

Don’t be frustrated, no one is perfect at this, and everyone is having issues sometimes at getting it right. That’s the fun part! That we can always get better.

 

Can I have multiple languages? 

Yes! 

Just like people can have a primary language in a second language that they speak, people generally have multiple love languages. Usually, you have a main one which is the most important to you, and then a secondary or tertiary one which is less significant, but still important. 

Try to identify your most important one with your partner and then list the secondary, tertiary and others from whats the most important to the least important to you. It’s really important that you can identify a primary language that is the most important to you so that you can help your partner. 

Giving them a primary language to focus on makes it easier for them to know how to love you effectively and what you like.

 

Conclusion

Whenever we’re in a relationship, it’s like we’re in a car and the engine of the car is running. We’re always using gas. At the beginning of the relationship we have a large tank of gas available, but then we’re going to quickly use it up. We have to learn how to add gas to the tank in the most effective way. Many people are going to pay for 300L of gas and only 50L of that gets into the tank. That’s a huge waste to see gas that you paid for and work so hard to pump get all over the floor. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

By learning the ways that we and our partners share and experienced love, we can learn to love them in the way that they actually want to be loved. This can ensure that we are using the right kind of gas and that it’s actually getting into the gas tank of the car. When we have a full tank of gas we feel much better and our relationship car can go continue driving over the long-term.

It doesn’t matter how hard we’re trying to show love to our partner, like speaking Japanese to communicate our love to them, if they don’t understand that language. That’s why we have to speak to them in the language that they want to be spoken to and can relate to.

Learning to discover our languages is a really exciting process where we can learn a lot about our partner and ourselves. No one is perfect. We’re not going to make mistakes. But that’s okay, it’s just like anything in life! The important thing is that we just keep going, trying, and practicing. We can continuously check in with our partner to get their feedback by asking them, “what’s your love language?” This way, if there’s something we could do to get better, we’ll know about it early on.

Love is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. We hope that using this process with your partner can help to make loving each other a little bit easier and a little bit more fun. This makes room for a lot of other joys in a relationship. It’s amazing how much we can do with the energy and time we save by being effective! Thanks so much for reading.

Love is hard, but it doesn't have to be. Click To Tweet

Additional formats

Prefer podcasts? We got you covered! Check out our How Do You Share and Receive Love? episode below:

 

Prefer Video? Check out our specially made video all about how we share and recieve love below!

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