How To Show Your Partner They're Loved, Based On Their Love Language

No grand gestures necessary.
Understanding your partner's love language could improve your connection.
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Understanding your partner's love language could improve your connection.

In relationships, people tend to show love to a partner in the way they’d personally most like to receive it. For example, those of us who need a big bear hug when we’re stressed might assume our partners would want the same. In reality, they may wish we had helped them cross something off their never-ending to-do list instead.

This presumptive approach can be ineffective because we all have different preferences when it comes to what makes us feel loved and cared for. Gary Chapman ― a pastor, speaker and author who has been married for more than 50 years ― explored this concept in his 1992 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, which has sold more than 11 million copies to date. (If you haven’t taken the quiz to determine your love language yet, you can do that here.)

In the book, he outlines the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

“After many years of counseling couples in crisis and taking notes during each session, I sat down one day and began thinking about what it takes for a person to feel loved,” Chapman told HuffPost. “It became apparent to me that what makes one person feel loved isn’t always the same for their spouse or partner. I discovered every person understands and receives love in a specific language, one of five to be precise. The other four are just as important and offer [other] ways to express love to each other.”

Taking the time to learn and really understand your partner’s primary love language, which is often different than your own, can improve communication and strengthen your bond.

Below are some little ways you can remind your partner just how loved he or she is, based on their primary love language.

Words of affirmation

“For people with this love language, they need to hear, ‘I love you,’” Chapman told HuffPost. “Even better is including the reasons behind the love; leave them a voice message, a written note, or talking to them directly with sincere words of kindness and affirmation.”

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Other ideas:

  • Thank them for cooking a tasty meal

  • Congratulate them for hitting a weight loss milestone or achieving a workout goal

  • Leave an encouraging note when they have a big presentation at work

  • Remind them how capable they are when they doubt themselves

  • Compliment their outfit, hair or something else about their appearance

  • Hide a card with a loving message in their suitcase when they’re going on a trip

  • Send them a text just to say you were thinking of them

Quality time:

“Giving your partner your undivided attention is what matters most to them,” Chapman noted. “That means no TV, no chores, no cell phone, just giving each other your undivided attention. Take time every day to do this.”

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Other ideas:

  • Have coffee together before work

  • After work, set aside 10 minutes to catch up — no phones allowed

  • Plan a date night

  • Always maintain eye contact when you’re having a conversation

  • Take a walk together

  • Go to bed at the same time, if possible

  • Plan a staycation

Receiving gifts

“The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift,” Chapman said. “The trick here is picking the right gift that shows you understand your partner and the effort you made to express love. Think about finding a gift that your partner has been asking for or would enjoy receiving, and plan for a special way of giving it, make it a surprise.”

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Other ideas:

  • Buy them concert tickets when their favorite band is in town

  • Peruse their Pinterest page and purchase an item they’ve pinned

  • After a trip, bring home a souvenir or trinket that made you think of them

  • Order their favorite childhood candy or snack ― bonus points if it’s a regional treat or something that has since been discontinued

  • Keep a note in your phone of specific things they mention wanting or needing so you have a list of gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or just because

Acts of service

“Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibility — vacuuming, going grocery shopping, sending thank-you notes — will satisfy this type of partner,” Chapman said. “Ask your partner to give ideas for things they’d like you to do that would make their life easier, and make a schedule to get them done.”

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Other ideas:

  • Get their car washed

  • Pick up their dry cleaning

  • Fill up their gas tank

  • Do their laundry

  • Pack their lunch

  • If they need to bring a present to a party or event, help by picking it out or purchasing it for them

Physical touch

“People who speak this love language thrive on any type of physical touch: hand holding, hugs and pats on the back,” Chapman said. “Be intentional about finding ways to express your love using physical touch: giving hugs, touching their arm or hand during a conversation, offer to give a neck or back rub.”

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Other ideas:

  • Cuddle while you’re watching TV

  • Always kiss hello and goodbye

  • Rub their neck after a long day

  • Treat them to a back rub

  • Gently rest your hand on their lower back at a party

  • Touch toes while you’re laying in bed

  • Hold hands on a walk

  • Put your arm around them at a concert

For more on the five love languages, head over to Chapman’s site.