Therapy Blog

Love Languages: The Art of Speaking Your Partner’s and Discovering Your Own

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2024 by Cristina Vrech

Within the varied and intricate strands which weave our relationships, the tender experience of feeling unloved or unappreciated is a common thread which drives many couples to seek counselling. Questions like “Why won’t they spend more time with me?” or “Why do they try to compensate for hurting my feelings by buying things?” often hint at a vulnerability stemming from a yearning for connections. This can often speak to a disconnect in love languages.

Frustrated upset couple after quarrel sitting on sofa at home. Image by yanalya on Freepik.

Understanding and expressing love can sometimes feel like deciphering a complex code, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. The key lies in attentively exploring each other’s love languages.

The Roots of Our Love Languages

Our preferred love languages often originate from our childhood experiences, learnings, and how our family unit demonstrated love and affection or what we most longed for. Sometimes, if we experience longing or unmet needs in our past, this can shape the development of our preferred love languages. For example, if you have experienced a lack of receiving any of the love languages, you may develop a preference for receiving love in that particular way.  Discussing these experiences with our partners and reflecting on them independently is crucial in this exploration. By doing so, we can uncover any associations with specific languages that may have developed over time, promoting greater emotional intimacy.

For instance, if your family regularly exchange compliments and encouragement, you may naturally lean towards Words of Affirmation as your preferred love language. Conversely, if expressing physical or verbal affection was uncommon or frowned upon in your family, you might find it challenging to express these love languages as an adult. Through reflection and guidance, we can address negative associations with love languages and cultivate healthier ways of expressing and receiving love. Couples and individual therapy can provide a supportive environment for this process of exploration and growth.

A Path to Deeper Connection

Expressing love that resonates with our partners can profoundly impact our relationships and emotional well-being. Disconnects can often arise from differing love languages – unique ways we perceive and communicate affection. Identifying which languages matter most ensures expressions of love aren’t lost in translation. Typically, we feel most loved when our partner speaks our love language. However, if languages differ, acts of love might be overlooked or undervalued, leading to friction.

Understanding how each love language manifests is crucial, particularly those that may feel less familiar or natural to you. For instance, imagine a couple where one partner expresses love through Acts of Service while the other prioritises Quality Time. Without recognising each other’s love languages, one partner might perceive a lack of appreciation for their efforts, while the other may feel overlooked. However, this gap can be bridged, and the bond can be strengthened through open communication and mutual understanding.

Should you be interested in discovering more about how learning your respective love languages can enhance communication, empathy, and intimacy in your relationships, we recommend reading this thought-provoking analysis recently published by Verywell Mind.

Couple Playing Videogame, Quality Time Love Language, Designed by Freepik

Exploring Love Languages Together

Are you struggling to find ways to express love using your partner’s love language? Or are you feeling frustrated because your partner isn’t addressing your love language? Here are some ideas on how to break down, communicate, and take action for each love language:

Words of Affirmation:

Compliments, encouragement, and verbal expressions of love and appreciation.

Possible Thoughts – “I wish my partner would notice and appreciate me more.” “I need more reassurance that I’m loved and valued”

Expressing these Feelings – “I feel appreciated when you verbally acknowledge my efforts, could you do that more often?” “Your compliments mean a lot to me. It would be great if you could express your love through words more often.”

Expressions of Love – Compliment your partner regularly. Express appreciation for their efforts. Write love notes. Offer verbal support. Acknowledge achievements.


Acts of Service:

Actions that demonstrate care, support, and assistance for your partner.

Possible Thoughts – “I want us to have more one-on-one time without distractions.” “I miss the deep conversations and shared experiences we used to have.”

Expressing these Feelings – “I understand you’re busy, but it would mean a lot to me if you could help out more with household chores.” “When you do things for me without me asking, it makes me feel loved and cared for.”

Expressions of Love – Cooking a meal. Running errands. Helping with chores.


Receiving Gifts:

Thoughtful gestures that symbolize love, affection, and appreciation.

Possible Thoughts – “I miss the excitement of receiving thoughtful surprises from them.” “I feel neglected when they don’t make an effort to give me meaningful gifts.”

Expressing these Feelings – “I know you’re not big on giving gifts, but receiving thoughtful presents from you would make me feel special.” “Even small gestures like picking up my favourite snack can really brighten my day and make me feel loved.”

Expressions of Love – Surprising your partner with their favourite treat. Finding and giving your partner a thoughtful gift (even a small one).


Quality Time:

Undivided attention and shared experiences that deepen emotional connections.

Possible Thoughts – “I want us to have more one-on-one time without distractions.” “I miss the deep conversations and shared experiences we used to have.”

Expressing these Feelings – “I miss spending quality time with you. Can we set aside some time each week to just be together without distractions?” “It would mean a lot to me if we could have regular date nights or plan activities together.”

Expressions of Love – Going for a walk together. Having meaningful conversations. Planning and enjoying a date night.


Physical Touch:

Physical affection and intimacy that conveys love, comfort, and closeness.

Possible Thoughts – “Physical intimacy is important to me; I wish they’d initiate it more.” “Their reluctance to show affection leaves me feeling rejected and lonely.”

Expressing these Feelings – “I crave physical affection from you. Holding hands, cuddling, or even a simple hug means a lot to me.” “Physical intimacy is important to me. Can we work on increasing our physical connection?”

Expressions of Love – Holding hands. Cuddling. Giving hugs and kisses.


Are you interested in discovering your or your partner’s primary Love Language? You can take the official Love Language Quiz, endorsed by Dr. Gary Chapman, the original author of ‘The 5 Love Languages’ here.

Growing Together Through Introspection

While online quizzes can provide insight into our love languages, personal reflection and discussions with partners can deepen true understanding. Understanding how we feel most loved by our partner is essential, which can be explored personally through introspective thinking or in therapy. Learning about and discussing love languages with our partners can pave a pathway to increased relational depth and can sometimes help to develop an appreciation of another’s love language. This can result in realisations like “I never realised my partner was doing that because they loved me until I saw that that was their love language”.

Happy young African American couple hugging and enjoying each other together on the sofa at home.

Couples counselling can provide valuable support for identifying and understanding your and your partner’s love languages. With the guidance of a professional relationship therapist, you can improve communication and recognise emotional needs. As a couple, it is possible to gain insight into how you both give and receive love, fostering a deeper connection and greater emotional fulfilment in the relationship.

Understanding and speaking one another’s love languages is akin to finding a way of translating emotions which are difficult to articulate. Love languages can act as a bridge across stormy waters, enabling us to reach each other when relationships must inevitably weather rough patches. Embracing them grants us a lexicon which is personal to us and our relationships, enabling us to demonstrate and celebrate the love which exists between us. In this, we learn much more not only about our partners, but about ourselves.

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