We usually expect our partner to respond to a loving gesture as we do. If a surprise gift fills you with excitement and joy, you are likely to enjoy giving gifts to others. But gifts may not be high on your partner’s list of ways that they feel loved and special. For them it may be touch – hugs and walking hand in hand, and the feeling of your arm around their shoulder.
We all have preferences that satisfy our emotional needs, and relationship expert Gary Chapman developed the Five Love Languages as the primary ways we feel loved: Touch, Talk, Time, Tokens and Tasks.
Touch – Physical Touch
A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy/feely. Hugs, holding hands, sexual contact and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face are all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship, and is particularly important for some.
Talk – Words of Affirmation
Spending time talking together is important, and if this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life giving.
Time – Quality Time
Nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being present for this type of person is critical, it makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Making time to be together is highly valued. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
Tokens – Receiving Gifts
The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, and you are cared for. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts and surprises are representations of love and are treasured greatly.
Tasks – Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on a “Tasks” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them says their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve your partner will be deeply valued.
It’s useful to discover your own preferences, and those of your partner. You can do this free online http://www.5lovelanguages.com. Or do this short exercise with your partner.
Share your Love Languages
This delightful little process takes about 10 minutes, and you can do it together.
- Each take a sheet of paper and working alone, in silence, make a list of all the things you can think of that you would enjoy receiving from your partner. Flowers, a new phone case, compliments, hand holding, surprises, breakfast in bed, that delightful thing they do with their tongue, a weekend away, going to bed earlier, fixing the squeaky door, doing the online shop, finding a good comedy to watch…. You get the idea. Just write without stopping for 10 minutes and make a long list.From this you’ll be able to identify your own ‘love language’ preferences.
- Now swap lists. There are no obligations to do anything, and no expectations. However, you now hold in your hand some very valuable information that gives you the power to surprise and delight your partner.
We each have different ways of feeling connected, of knowing we’re special and loved, so it’s important to understand our partner’s emotional needs, and to respond to them.
There is only one happiness in this life,
to love and be loved.
– George Sand