5 Ways to Show Love

5 Ways to Show Love

In this article

Relationships are hard. They’re wonderful too, but there’s no doubt that despite our best intentions, sometimes things can veer off course with our significant other. After all, there are (at least) 5 ways to show love.

For example, one partner may feel like they’re checking all the boxes and doing everything right: flowers on Valentine’s Day, remembering key dates like birthdays and anniversaries or logging long hours at the office so their significant other can stay home.

And yet, their partner just never seems pleased. It’s likely a situation where the right “love language” isn’t being spoken.

What are the Five Love Languages?

In 1992, counselor and speaker Gary Chapman published a groundbreaking book about relationships called “The Five Love Languages.” It was an Aha! moment for couples everywhere, who suddenly understood not only their partner’s motives but also their own, and how the two combined to create either harmony or major discord.

The essence of Chapman’s book and subsequent counseling is that each person has a particular love language—a certain way in which they most prefer to be loved, and as a result, they tend to give love using this same language.

That’s all fine and good if they end up with a partner who prefers that type of love. But if they don’t, the couple may begin to feel distant, disconnected or worse, even though there’s no actual problem in the relationship—they’re each just trying to love each other in the way they know best!

“In most healthy relationships, partners don’t hurt each other on purpose. Rather, the hurt stems from different expectations and different priorities for each of the parties involved,” said Claire Barber, a certified mental health consultant and relationship expert with Treeological.

Chapman’s book seeks to enlighten couples on how to identify each partner’s specific love language so they can give and receive love in a way that works for both partners. It’s perfectly understandable to try to give love how you’d like to receive it. But knowing better means doing better.

Chapman tries to help couples work together and communicate with one another about what makes them feel happy and loved, using the five love languages that he’s defined.

Five Ways to Show Love

What are the 5 ways to show love? And how does learning about them help couples to relate to one another more effectively? Chapman’s five love languages are as follows.

Words of Affirmation. With this love language, a person wants to hear positive things about themselves, said Barber. Without that, this person can grow resentful or begin to feel invisible, like their contribution isn’t valued. Ways to communicate in this love language include:

  • Give compliments.
  • Leave them a post-it note with a kind message.
  • Tell them how much they mean to you.
  • Say “I love you.”
  • Say “Thank you.”

Quality Time. This one is simple. The partner who values quality time above all else will feel shunned no matter what you provide them if you refuse to set aside time for just the two of you.

Ways to communicate in this love language include:

  • Plan a special date.
  • Honor an occasion like a birthday with an overnight trip together.
  • Set aside time to connect every night.
  • Engage in a conversation over morning coffee.
  • Go for a walk together.

Receiving Gifts. This one is more than just buying a gift, said Ben Hoogland, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Twin Cities Marriage and Family Therapy.

“Gifts can mean making or creating something meaningful, listening to your partner’s wants and then fulfilling it by buying it for them or creating an experience.”

Ways to communicate in this love language include:

  • Buy flowers.
  • Take special care never to forget a birthday or anniversary.
  • Give a small gift just because.
  • Take notice of an item they’ve been longing for and purchase it for them.
  • Make them a special card to let them know you love them.

Acts of Service. The person who values acts of service above all else is the one whose eyes will light up when you do the laundry, but may let those gorgeous roses they were gifted wilt without a second glance. For these people, even the smallest tasks can speak volumes.

Ways to communicate in this love language include:

  • Take over a task you know they dislike.
  • Handle the laundry for them.
  • Get up early and make them breakfast.
  • Handle a task they’ve been putting off.
  • Do something unexpected for them.

Physical Touch. Don’t fall for the misconception that people who value physical touch only want sex. It’s about so much more than that, said Hoogland.

“It’s important to pay attention to what your partner likes in regard to kinds of touch. Finding new and creative ways to reach out and touch your partner will show your partner you love them.”

Ways to communicate in this love language include:

  • Give them a massage.
  • Hold hands.
  • Touch them when it’s unexpected.
  • Make physical contact when you’re in public together.
  • Give them a kiss before you leave for work in the morning.

As with learning styles, few people neatly conform to a single love language. Most of us respond to some more than others, however, and an attentive partner will be able to identify those with which their partner identifies the most.

There are countless different ways to show love

No matter what your love language is, there are lots of different ways to show love. And what works for one couple may not be the right thing for another. It’s all about figuring out what makes each partner feel loved, supported and appreciated. Knowing the five ways to show love is a great place to start on the road to a happy, healthy relationship.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

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