Practicing your partner’s language, and vice versa, can help you become closer as a couple, according to Dr. Chapman’s theory. “When we know how we experience love and also understand the ways our partner experiences love, it helps us create a meaningful, healthy, and authentic connection,” says Avigail Lev, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and certified mediator in Bay . Area CBT Center in Oakland and San Francisco, California.
Through Dr. Chapman’s clinical work as a couples counselor, he noticed that couples often misunderstood each other’s needs, not because they weren’t trying to connect, but because they had different ways of experiencing and receiving love. According to Dr. Lev, Dr. Chapman hypothesized that teaching couples to express their love in a way that resonated with each individual would lead to more harmonious relationships, he adds. Within her own practice, “learning each other’s love languages increases connection and feelings of closeness between partners,” she says.
People often reported feeling unloved, despite their partner’s attempts to express it, adds Saba Harouni Lurie, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner and founder of Take Root Therapy in Los Angeles. “[Dr.] Chapman found that patterns emerged in what his clients wanted from their partners, and he called these patterns the five love languages.
Below are the five love languages according to Dr. Chapman, plus ideas for expressing them to your partner.
words of affirmation
This love language consists of encouraging, positive words and verbal or written acknowledgments of love and care, says Lurie. Think: Congratulations and words of encouragement. They can be as simple as “I love you” or more complex; For example, “I love you and appreciate how much you care about the people in your life” or “I’m grateful for you.”
Acts of Service
If actions speak louder than words is your mantra, your love language can be acts of service, says Dr. Lev. For those with this love language, a helping hand makes them feel cared for, and doing something to lighten their load will go a long way. Try unloading the dishwasher, filling the gas tank, making an appointment, or offering to pick up dinner on the way home.
It’s the idea that counts, not the price of the gift, says Lurie. People with this love language appreciate receiving a visual symbol of their partner’s affection, especially one that has been carefully selected by the giver. Gifting your partner their favorite author’s new book or framing their first date receipt are meaningful ideas for those with this love language, says Lurie.
With this love language, what you crave most is your partner’s undivided attention, says Dr. Lev. Someone whose love language is quality time feels most appreciated when others are present, attentive, and attentive. That means making your partner feel like they’re a priority by turning off the phone, staying out of distractions, making eye contact, sitting close, and using active listening skills to interact with your partner, he explains.
Do you feel comfortable and safe when you are physically connected with your partner? If so, physical contact could be your primary love language, says Lurie. Members of this group read body language very closely and need the intimacy of touch to feel affirmed and bonded, she explains. Actions include making an active effort to snuggle, hold hands, kiss, and hug regularly.