You’ve probably heard of ‘The 5 Love languages’, right?
(If not, no worries, I’ll catch you up. That’s what I’m here for…)
The definitive languages of love are descriptions (or categories) of the way a person feels loved. It’s the way they receive that warm feeling of love, that closeness, and caring.
It’s the ‘language’ that makes the hormones in the body start bubbling. It’s what makes the butterflies in the stomach, the heart pound, and the hairs on your back stand on end. (at least in the beginning).
Later on it’s the language that makes a person feel deep down cared for, and deeply valued and truly loved by another person. It’s how this person feels most valued.
So, to put this in to a ‘real-life’ context, basically, if you’ve been cooking dinner for your partner for the last 10 years, and expected them to feel loved because of it, then you might have been wasting your time (and energy) if their primary love language is ‘words of affirmation’.
Similarly, if your partner has been buying you romantic gifts regularly for the last 10 years, then they have probably been wasting their time (and money) if YOUR love language is ‘quality time’.
Even though you probably both love and appreciate each other, you might feel that something is missing …
That’s because you’re both speaking languages that the other doesn’t really understand or care about. You’re speaking Japanese and they only understand French. Or they’re speaking German, and you only understand Spanish.
Pas de communication!
¡No hay comunicación!
There are two very important points to mention, before we go deeper into love languages;
The first is that there are 5 different languages of love:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of service
The second is that each person has (at least) one primary language of love – the means through which they most directly FEEL loved.
The love languages were defined in 1992, by Gary Chapman, an American author and anthropologist (and a ‘talk-radio’ host!). This communication model is now widely accepted, and used world-wide as a tool for couples, and individuals, in relationship therapy. (On a personal note, I’m very thankful to Gary Chapman, he’s certainly helped me make my partner feel more loved, and I feel her love more often and deeper also, just because we know how to communicate to each other.)
Even though these languages don’t exist as hard and fast entities (or categories) in our hearts and minds, it is a very useful model to try to understand them, and thus begin to learn to use them to communicate with your beloved.
If you and your partner have different primary love languages, then this can cause all kinds of tension, stress and misunderstanding in the relationship. It also leads to cold, distant feelings, and a lot of pain in many households around the globe.
Maybe you and your partner have been misunderstanding each other for years? Maybe your last fight was because you didn’t see their signs of ‘showing love’, and/or they didn’t see yours..
All day, all week, ending in a big fight? Do you really think you are fighting about the toilet seat being up? Or the remote control for the tv? Or the kids schedule? Or squeezing the toothpaste in the middle?
Don’t you think it might be about something a bit deeper? Lying underneath all the fights you’ve had recently? Or always?
To explain why I believe this, I’ve included this excerpt from my newsletter series;
(If you find it interesting, you can sign up here and learn the other 4 mistakes you might be making in your relationship):
Your partner may show their love for you by cleaning up, making dinner, washing the car, looking after the kids. (This is called the ‘acts of service’ language)
… but you feel loved on ‘date night’, watching a movie together, taking a walk together or gardening together. (This is known as the ‘quality time’ language)
Another example may be that your partner shows their love for you by giving a massage, holding hands, hugging on the sofa or kissing. (The ‘physical touch’ language)
… but you feel loved when they say romantic things, write poems, tell you how wonderful you are, or when they say “I love you”. (This is the ‘words of affirmation’ language).
So your partner may be sending you many signals that they love you, but you are not understanding them: it doesn’t feel loving to you. And you are sending them signals that you love them, but they are not understanding them either, and thus not feeling loved by you.
It’s like you are screaming “I love you” in Japanese, and they are screaming “I love you” in Arabic. But neither of you understand what the other one is screaming. You just hear ‘gobbledygook’.
No wonder you’re both dissatisfied and left wondering if you’re still loved. You can’t understand a thing the other is saying. Nor can you appreciate it.
“Why wasn’t this a problem in the first few years?” you might be asking yourself.
The answer is simple: Phenethylamine, Dopamine, Noradrenaline… the three “IN LOVE” drugs your body produces when you fall in love with someone. (Nature’s way of making sure we reproduce)
Together, they are a powerful cocktail of chemicals in your body, strong enough to overcome any communication problems or difficulties (you just don’t feel there’s any issues when you’re high on love drugs).
… But when these wear off (after 1-3 years), and are replaced with Oxytocin (the relationship drug – sometimes called the ‘cuddle’ drug) then things get challenging.
So right now you’re probably thinking: “So how do I find out what my own love language is?”, right? Simple, you can discover your love language right here:
By the way, it’s only useful to test yourself, if you’re gonna tell your partner about the love languages, explain the importance, and explain that you like them to show their love in your primary language. It’s no use finding your love language if your partner doesn’t know what it is. They’ll still be washing the car for you, buying you gifts, when all you want is to hear ‘sweet-nothings’ in your daily life. .
And, if you want to make your partner feel loved, then you need them to take the test, so you know how to show them love, and make them feel loved. It’s no use doing the washing up and tidying the house if they don’t feel love that way.
So what about bilingual or multilingual people? (in terms of languages of love) Do they exist?
Well, yes, many people have two or sometimes three strong love languages. They FEEL loved in two or three ways. But the other 3 languages, out of the 5 languages, don’t do much for them. But despite feeling loved in two or three love languages, the majority of people have one primary.
The key is to find out how your partner FEELS loved. (Not how they express love). And while you’re at it, you can find out how YOU feel loved, and then tell them that this is your love language, and this is how you FEEL love.
When you both know each other’s love languages, you can then start brainstorming ideas (either with yourself, or together with them) of how you are going to show your love to them so that they can understand it… and NOT once a month, show them your love in THEIR preferred language every day!
Just a friendly ‘heads-up’ … starting a conversation about love languages can be tricky, and sometimes, if you phrase things the wrong way, your partner can feel accused, threatened or just plain old annoyed.
Be careful, and think about HOW you are gonna ask them, and exactly WHAT you want to get out of the conversation. Tread lightly. Heats and pride are fragile things.
Oh, and a final thought… if you’ve ever heard someone say “A relationship is about hard work”, or “Love is hard work”, or anything like that, now you know what it means.
This is the hard work you have to do to feel loved and make your partner feel loved also. This is how you create connection after the ”in love” phase, and how you truly love your partner after years and years.
Using another’s love language is not easy, and may not feel natural at first, but keep reminding yourself of what they value, and in time it will become natural for you to express love for them in that way.
It’s just like learning to drive a car, it’s pretty difficult at first, but if you practice, then after a while it gets easier, and in the end you’ll be really good at it and all your journeys will be smooth. (if you had a good driving instructor, of course.)
Let’s love better, ❤️
Relationship & Intimacy Coach