Let’s look at an example of each Love Language:
- Sarah reaches out to hold her partner’s hand as they eat dinner (physical touch)
- Greg stops off to get flowers for his partner on the way home (gifts)
- Abby clears her busy schedule to spend a whole weekend with her partner (quality time)
- Monika turns to her partner to say, “I’m so lucky to be with you!” (words of affirmation)
- Everyday, Jonathon wakes up early to make his partner breakfast (acts of service)
Incredibly, all 5 Love Languages communicate the exact same thing: “I love you. I care about you. You matter to me.” This is great, right? We have so many different ways to express our love. That’s true, but, the problem happens when you happen to speak a language that your partner can’t hear.
My Love Language is Not Your Love Language
One of the most common places to get stuck in a relationship is through speaking a different love language than your partner. What if you need lots of quality time together, but your partner prefers to spend less time together? What if your partner is happy and feels loved if you keep your clothes off the floor, but you are naturally messy and like to show them love by telling them how much they mean to you instead?
If you’re not getting along with your partner, or experiencing your old spark, it could be you’re actually just speaking different languages (of love). Imagine that for you, what you crave from your partner is words of affirmation. And let’s say your partner tends to give love through acts of service. In the morning he takes the time to make you an excellent cup of coffee AND make the bed before leaving. But for you, hearing “I love you” before you leave for the day lights you up in a way that receiving a well-made cup of coffee from them just can’t do.
In this example you’re likely to feel unsatisfied, disappointed, and probably even guilty about feeling that way. But no one has done anything wrong—you’re just speaking different languages, and you need to learn to become bi-lingual and fluent in a different language
So, what do I do?!
1. Take this quiz to determine your primary Love Languages. It may surprise you to find out physical touch is more important to you than gifts, or that you tend to do acts of service for your partner more than have quality time together.
2. Talk about it! Ask your partner how they tend to feel most loved. Have them provide examples of times when they have (and haven’t) received love from you. If you’re in couples counseling, this could be a good framework for you to discuss issues with your partner.
3. Third, celebrate! Diversity is the spice of life. It’s normal to speak different love languages than your partner. That’s part of what makes an interesting relationship.
Go Beyond The 5 Love Languages
Your love language is a way to tell your partner what action you need in order to feel loved, but it does explain to your partner (or yourself!) why you need to feel a certain way in the relationship. If you want to dive deeper into the why, take our Core Relationship Desire Quiz now. You core desire is your why, and it can help you explain to your partner the ways you feel deeply loved, valued and appreciated.
If you need help deciphering your partner’s love language, our counselors in Berkeley, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and Palo Alto can offer you the tools and support you need. We also offer sliding scale options for people with need.
*Note: The Five Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman
Founder of The Couples Center, Gal has a warm and practical approach that recognizes and honors the best in every person. Gal’s relationship with his wife is the source of inspiration for his commitment to helping couples create thriving relationships. Going through their relationship struggles made him realize how a committed relationship is the most important vehicle for one’s personal growth. Gal has a lifelong dedication to learning and growth and is trained in many different.