If you think that the 5 love languages boil down to gifts and greeting cards — you probably had some pretty confusing relationships. That’s because that this simplistic understanding of the way we connect doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what it really means to meet someone’s intimate needs. By broadening your understanding of what these love languages really mean, you can unlock powerful relationship skills that will boost your ability to connect.
What the love languages actually look like in action.
Love languages are basically relationship battery packs, which help to recharge and rejuvenate our connection with one another. Instead of going on autopilot, we use a combination of these bonding techniques to recommit ourselves to our partners and the lives we’re building. We all use and need various love languages to bond. Seeing these behaviors for what they are can change the way we see one another.
Words of affirmation
When part of your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, they want to hear that you care for them and that you appreciate them. But that looks like more dynamic than saying, “Thanks for being you. I love you.” They need to connect with you on a communication level — regularly.
What this looks like in action: True words of affirmation look like asking your partner a lot of questions. It looks like making a point to have regular and deep conversations that allow your partner to explore their life, their relationship with you, and the world around you.
Gift giving is yet another love language that allows tactile partners to physically understand their value in a partnership. It’s far more complex than buying someone nice things on holidays. Giving gifts is a show of conscious appreciation that is physically manifested through offerings. They don’t have to be expensive. They have to be thoughtful.
What this looks like in action: For the partner with a gifting language, they need to be show how loved they are. Listen to their stories, their emotions — and plan small gifts that match accordingly. You can use cards, flowers, and handmade gifts of every kind. What’s important is that it comes from the heart.
Acts of service
Going a little further into the realm of care than gift-giving, acts of service require that partners show up for one another in helpful ways. That means you do little tasks or chores that allow your partner’s burden to be lessened. To many, this is the highest form of demonstrated care. Especially if they don’t have to ask you specifically for certain act.
What this looks like in action: Again, it’s not about breaking the bank here or doing grandiose gestures (though that can help for the right partner). Do small things like filling up your partner’s gas tank, or doing the dishes for them. Cook dinner, or show up at work with lunch for them.
Physical touch is an important component in most romantic languages, and you’ll find that most partners have this as a component of their love communication tool kit. We like to be touched be the people that we love. It lights us up; it helps us to feel more connected and more wanted. It excites us and increases our bond.
What this looks like in action: Touching your partner can be sexual, but it’s important that you don’t only use physical touch for sexual connection. Over time, this cheapens that connection and can make partners feel used. Remember to use platonic touch, too. Holding hands. A pat on the back. Here again, simple is powerful.
How much quality time do you spend with your partner? This, too, is a facet of our love languages that often gets overlooked. We don’t only long for physical connection, or to get gifts and kind words. We want to be near our partners too. There’s an energy in that, and it allows us to bond. Quality time is an important component of nourishing our relationships.
What this looks like in action: If you think that quality time is simply sexy time or eating the same dinner together every night — think again. When you spend quality time together, you should seek to create lighter memories and a sense of joy in the space you share.
Putting it all together…
Love languages are a lot more complex and nuanced than a lot of us have been led to believe. We don’t just speak one language in love. All of us speak many love languages. There are layers to our relationships and layers to our needs. Understanding that allows us to connect both with our partners and ourselves on a more intimate and effective level.
Seek to understand how your need for quality time really works. Observe how this need is manifested in your partner, and practice until you find your place in the balance of it all.
Words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service — it’s all a lot more involved than just saying nice things or doing the laundry. On a deeper level, it’s about thinking of your partner as considerately as you think about yourself, and seeking to make their journey with you a comfortable and peaceful one (as they should do for you).
Take your love language to the next level and unlock a new way of bonding with the person(s) you love most. Want a little more clarity? Take a deep dive with me on love languages and what they really mean on the Practical Growth podcast.