February is the month of love. There’s nothing better than talking about love and learning what can be done to help make your relationships with all those around you stronger, healthier, and happier.
As beautifully explained in this article from Psychology Today, the desire to love and care for others is hard-wired and deep-seated because the fulfillment of desire actually enhances our own happiness levels. Expressing love or compassion for others not only benefits the recipient of affection, but also the person who delivers it.
However, as I had mentioned in my previous blog post, Dating With Anxiety, experiencing anxiety in a relationship could lead us to question whether or not our partner really loves us. It could lead us to think that they don’t love us even when they have not given us any concrete reasons to believe this. Sometimes, the reason we get to thinking this is because our partner may not express their love in the same way that we do.
Essentially, there are five different methods one typically uses to express and receive love. These are called the 5 love languages, and consist of words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gift giving/receiving.
While reading this list, you might be thinking, “I do every single one of those to show my partner that I love them!” and you are probably right. I’m sure a lot of us relate to all five love languages to a certain extent. However, we all have one that speaks to us the most. This is why understanding your partner’s love language is so important. By understanding what their love language is, you will be able to easily recognize when they are expressing love to you in a way that you may not usually consider an expression of love yourself.
The concept of love languages was developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, where he describes these five unique styles of communicating love. He categorized these languages from his combined experience in marriage counseling and linguistics. If you’re interested in learning about them in depth, you can read his book. Here is a brief overview of each love language.
1. Words of Affirmation
People with words of affirmation as their love language express affection through spoken words, praise, or appreciation. Things they may enjoy are kind words, words of encouragement, uplifting quotes, love notes, and or cute text messages. You can make this person feel loved by complimenting them or pointing out what they do well.
2. Quality Time
Someone who identifies with this love language truly feels loved when you actively want to spend time with them and when you give them your undivided attention. This means putting down the cell phone, making eye contact, and actively listening. They appreciate having meaningful conversations or sharing recreational activities.
3. Physical Touch
A person with this love language feels loved through physical affection. Aside from sex, they may feel loved when their partner shows physical affection in some way such as holding their hand, touching their arm, or giving them a massage. Their idea of a perfect date might include cuddling on the couch watching a movie. They simply want to be physically close to their partner.
4. Acts of Service
If one’s primary love language is acts of service, they would truly feel loved when their partner goes out of their way to make their life easier. They feel loved and appreciated when someone does nice things for them. Whether it’s cooking them a meal, helping to put the dishes away, or filling the car with gas. Little things go a long way.
Lastly, for someone who’s primary love language is gifts, they symbolize the gift as an act of love. Not only do they see the gift itself as a symbol of love, but they treasure the time and effort you took to pick out a present that you knew would make them smile. It does not need to be an expensive gift, it is more about the meaning behind it.
These simply go to show that we all express love differently. Your understanding of how your partner expresses their love can have a beneficial impact on your relationship. It can help you both be more appreciative of what you do for each other. Therefore, next time your anxiety is tricking you into believing that your partner doesn’t love you, take a minute to reflect on how their love language differentiates from yours. They may be showing you constant love, but you haven’t been noticing.