Who taught you how to love? Your parents? Your ex? No one? Yeah, us too. We're still figuring it out ourselves. Trial and error, baby.
While you may think of love as holding hands, venting about your parents or giving each other lifts to the airport, it turns out there are many ways we can give and receive love. Each person will require different types of love (this goes for all your relationships, not just romantic ones).
"Modern love comes in many forms. And if we don't talk about which form we want, we're left to assume we want the same thing." - Esther Perel (Relationship Guru/Godsend).
One clear and simple way of thinking about love is through Gary Chapman's
What are the 5 love languages?
1. Acts of service:
Doing things that are meaningful, productive and helpful (sometimes actions speak louder than words). E.g. Completing tasks for others, ticking off the to-do list, helping out with chores, watering plants, cooking dinner.
2. Physical touch:
Physical affection and tangible displays of love. E.g. Holding hands, hugs, kisses, back scratches, shoulder rubs, massages.
3. Quality time:
Having one another’s undivided attention. E.g. Active listening, feeling heard, being present, deep and meaningful conversations.
4. Receiving gifts:
Presents that show thought and care. E.g. Plants for a new home, wine for a date, DIY card for a birthday, chocolate (just because).
5. Words of affirmation:
Spreading love through words. E.g. Compliments, encouragement, verbal appreciation, praise, cards or poems.
How do I find out my love language?You may know what your love language is just by reading about them and resonating with one. You might even have more than one! Try and reflect on what your partner or friend does that you really appreciate. In moments where you feel truly loved and valued, what are the people around you doing to make you feel that way? What do you do for them to show them you care? If you're still unsure about your love language...
Why should I care about my love language?
Your love language is your little How-To-Love-Me guide that you can give to those around you. Knowing your and your partner’s love language can strengthen your relationship and reduce tension, miscommunication and lack of appreciation.
Say you can always count on your best friend for a hype up, and that makes you feel really good. But your partner? They’re not the “words” type. They’re not the “touchy feely” type either… Come to think of it, howdo they show you they care? Do they even love you? Just kidding, of course they do, but chances are they may just have a different love language to you.
What if my partner has a different love language to me?
Don’t fear, we can get through this! It’s super common for two people to have different love languages. Understand that it's not personal if your partner is not overly appreciative of your touch or gifts, for example. It’s not you, it’s just the waythey define and embody love. Do the Love Languages together,
or if they’re not keen on the idea, just keep a sneaky eye out for what they appreciate and piece the puzzle together yourself.
Once you know your love language, try and explain it to your partner. The key is to use specific examples and explain why they mean so much to you. Perhaps you loved when they bought you flowers for no reason because it made you feel special and showed that they were thinking of you. Or maybe you’ve never forgotten that one time you were in a rush for work and they made you a yummy, nourishing meal (phew, one less thing to worry about). Or, those 3 hours of uninterrupted, kid-free time were so special to you because you had your partner’s undivided attention.
Remember, the way you want to be loved doesn't need to be the same way you show love to others. If your partner has a different love language to you, make an effort to do the little things you know they’d appreciate, even if they wouldn’t mean much to you personally.