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Are You Speaking Your Partner’s Love Language?

Discover the Best Way to Reach Another Person’s Heart

 For some couples, expressing love comes naturally and effortlessly. They communicate their appreciation and affection with such ease and grace it’s as if they have some secret language. For other couples, even those who genuinely and deeply care for each other, expressing love in a way that “connects” seems difficult, if not impossible. Some people might say, “Even though my partner and I get along very well, it seems like we’re not speaking the same language.”

In a sense, they might not be. When it comes to the way we are each emotionally wired, we give and receive love a certain way. Just as there are different temperament types among people, there are also different ways love is received most earnestly and clearly.

Almost twenty years ago, family counselor Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages,” probably not expecting it to become a perennial best-seller. Why has the book been so popular? Because everyone wants to be a great lover, enjoy a happy love life, and help their partner feel deeply loved. Everyone wants a lasting, fulfilling romantic relationship—which is not always easy to create. 

After decades of counseling couples, Dr. Chapman realized that people fall into one of five categories that speak love most powerfully to them:  

Words of Affirmation. For those with this love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to them. Verbal and written expressions of love are what reach the heart of these people most significantly. Hearing the words “I love you” are important—hearing the reasons behind them sends their spirit soaring. Genuine words of encouragement, praise, and admiration build the self-worth of your partner. They create intimacy, heal wounds, and bring out the full potential in the other person.

Quality Time. To people with this love language, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being together — with the TV off, cell phone put away, and all distractions removed — makes your significant other feel special and valued. Interruptions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Spending time together through sharing, listening, and participating in meaningful activities communicates that you truly care for and enjoy each other.

Receiving Gifts. Don’t mistake this love language for materialism, greed, or indulgence; this person thrives on the care, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. Tangible gifts are visual symbols of love, whether they are items you purchased or made. Gifts demonstrate that you care, and they represent the value of the relationship.

Acts of Service. Anything you do to lighten the load and ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on this kind of person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Making a meal, picking up dry-cleaning, helping to organize the cupboards—these and other tasks demonstrate care. Lack of follow-through, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell these people their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch. This kind of person is, not surprisingly, the touchy-feely type—though don’t think this language is all about the bedroom. Care and concern can be shown through hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm or face. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or the “cold shoulder” are very hurtful. As a love language, powerful communication comes from the smallest touch to the most passionate kiss.

If you want to reach your partner with heartfelt expressions of care, discover his or her love language—and speak it often.