Bringing your friend coffee. Giving hugs. Complimenting their work.
These are all ways to convey the same thing: love.
Enter: the 5 Love Languages. We all give and receive love differently. Learning how your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/spouse expresses and receives love is one of the best things you can do for your relationship.
Backstory time! My fiancé and I have been dating for a year and are getting married in two. About a week into dating me, I sent him the 5 Love Languages quiz. He probably thought I was a crazy person (spoiler: I am), but to his credit he took the quiz and we exchanged results. Our quiz results presented what would have taken a while to learn without it.
While no relationship is complete without some of each one, knowing your person’s preferred way of receiving love is vital, and most people have a top two.
But, let’s back up. What are these languages, anyway? I’m glad you asked.
Holding hands, a big hug, a passing touch, a quick kiss. The sweet little interactions that show you cherish them. To some, including myself, these interactions can make your day. I take it way too seriously, to the point if I don’t get a hug when he comes over I get crabby. Physical touch-types need those little things consistently to feel cherished and loved. Neglect is the enemy — and, speaking from experience, a lack of touch breeds it.
Keeping these types happy involves forehead kisses, holding hands (bonus points if you rub their hand with your thumb), back scratches, snuggles during movies on the couch and the like. Know them and know what they like. Don’t be afraid to ask what they like (some people don’t like holding hands), and communicate what you want to them. Don’t make anyone guess.
Even if this isn’t your top language, it’s especially important for a healthy relationship. My fiancé and I made a rule early on: no phones on dates. Quality time, at least for us, means electronics and distractions put away to simply focus on each other. This might look like a dinner for two, a long drive, taking a walk together, playing board games, or basically anything you want to do together that you feel brings you closer to each other.
Every couple is unique and what brings you closer to each other will be too. Take your quality time seriously, and put effort into communicating and cherishing each other. There’s a lot of variety in this one, because everyone’s ideas of quality time are different. For me, it’s no technology involved. For my fiancé, just being together is enough. Find your groove and come back often.
Acts of Service
I feel like everyone can appreciate receiving this one. Acts of service are doing things for your person so they don’t have to. Folding the laundry, doing the dishes, running their errands, cleaning, cooking, making the plans if they’re usually the planner, anything to take a load off them.
These really show that you know them, know what they need, and are willing to help them because you love them. They will feel loved because they know you considered their needs and took the time to make their life easier.
Words of Affirmation
I’m definitely the compliment-y type, I love sprinkling them like confetti wherever I go. For some, these help them feel noticed, cherished and appreciated. Thank them for making dinner, tell them you love their outfit, mention that you appreciate them washing the dishes.
Word of warning: never tell a false compliment. Find something you genuinely love about them or something they do (if you love them this shouldn’t be too hard) and tell them about it. Notice the little things. We all want to feel appreciated, especially by our favorite human.
Some people love to give, and some people love to receive. No shame in that! Don’t overthink this one, just keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gift (save those for Christmas or your anniversary). It’s the simple things like grabbing their favorite candy at the grocery store or picking up flowers on your way home. Know what they like. Not only does it show you’ve been paying attention, but it also shows you were thinking of them. Who doesn’t love that
A healthy relationship should incorporate all of these to some degree, but it’s important to go out of your way to please the person you love. Truly loving someone means wanting the best for them and wanting to make them happy. Keep in mind as well, preferred love languages can change as time goes on. We re-took the quiz after nine months to see if any had changed and his top two had changed as he learned what he enjoyed from our relationship and what he didn’t. Communicate these things with your person and stay on the same page.
Above all, love deeply and love selflessly. My great-grandmother, who was married for 74 years, said her biggest advice is to put the other person before yourself. Take this with you into every relationship. I promise it will be very fulfilling.
Copy Desk Chief Hannah Crisp can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @hnhelizabeth.