With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, couples across the world prepare to celebrate their love with gifts, flowers, and romantic gestures. There can be a lot of pressure on both partners to live up to the hype and the expectation that is drummed up around this day, especially for couples who are in a new relationship or are struggling to connect. While exchanging tokens of love and affection go a long way towards creating happiness, it is equally, important to truly focus on building healthy, meaningful relationships and cultivating trust and understanding that can be sustained in all days to come.
A cornerstone of expressing and receiving love is to understand the concept of love languages. At the root of this concept is the notion that each person has a different way of feeling and expressing love and appreciation. As inherently different individuals with unique needs and personalities, you and your partner may speak different love languages. What makes you feel loved and cared for many not necessarily be the same as what your partner needs from you to feel loved. When love languages don’t align, it can lead to frustration, misunderstanding, disappointment, and resentment in the relationship.
Here are the five primary love languages – take a moment to reflect on what resonates most with you, share it with your partner and learn about theirs as well so you both can express your love for each other in a more meaningful way.
- Words of affirmation – This involves expressions of love and affection through words and can include verbal compliments, praises, appreciations. Words can make a world of difference to you and can make you feel loved, reassured, understood, encouraged, and uplifted. Frequent “I love you-s” and check-ins can brighten your day. On the flip side, you are also easily hurt by harsh language and criticism and find it hard to shake it off.
- Spending quality time together – You love spending one on one time with your significant other where you are the focus of their attention – minus the phones, television, or other distractions. It helps you feel safe in the knowledge that they prioritize you over other things. The emphasis here is on quality over quantity. While the two of you may enjoy relaxing with a movie or doing an activity that you both enjoy, you feel most adored when your partner is present with you in the moment, listening actively and able to connect with you emotionally.
- Physical touch – Some people prefer to express their love through physical acts of affections. Holding hands, kissing, hugging, and cuddling and sex can convey a sense of intimacy and comfort through physical closeness. It helps them feel grounded in the present moment and can translate into a heightened sense of contentment and emotional security in the relationship.
- Acts of service – This involves showing and receiving love through actions over words. Whether it’s helping with an errand, cooking a meal, or checking-off something from your to-do-list so you can relax and feel less overwhelmed – these actions show that your partner is thoughtful, supportive, attentive to your needs, and genuinely invests time and effort in caring for you. On the other hand, broken commitments and cancelled plans can make you feel neglected.
- Receiving gifts – This can sometimes be misconstrued as appearing selfish or materialistic, but gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Thoughtful gifts that hold sentimental value, provide an experience to treasure, or even something as simple as your favorite dessert after a long day can make you feel special and loved. The thought and care behind a gift specifically picked out for you speaks volumes about how well your partner knows and adores you.
Understanding your partner’s love language can help you express your love for them in a more meaningful way. It can also help you recognize and appreciate all the ways they express their love for you in their own way – in case you’ve felt that they weren’t reciprocating in the ways that you wanted to see. When couples are aligned with each other’s perspectives on showing and receiving love, it can strengthen their connection. Keep in mind – love languages can also change over time as an individual’s needs naturally evolve over the years through different phases in life. So it’s important to be attuned to your partner’s needs while also communicating your own.