A photo by Renee Fisher of multicoloured graffitied hearts that completely cover the wall of a building.
Everyday Lifestyle

Relationship Goals: Improving Your Love Language

Understanding how we express love and communicate our needs in a relationship is one of the most meaningful things we can do. Valuing receptive, nourishing connections that thrive requires a clear awareness of each other’s love language.

If we don’t know what expressions of love work best for us and how they help cultivate a healthy, durable partnership; they can’t be communicated effectively and may cause misunderstandings and create strain. Correspondingly, if we don’t take the time to find out how our loved ones reciprocate their feelings towards us, it means we’re missing out on both giving and receiving opportunities that connect us.

According to Gary Chapman, who first coined the phrase in his bestselling 1995 book, The Five Love Languages; there are five key ways in which people in romantic relationships demonstrate their attraction and devotion for each other. They include:

  • Physical Touch – giving/receiving sexual intimacy, kissing, holding hands, hugging, anything tactile, etc
  • Words of Affirmation – compliments, verbal encouragement and declarations of love
  • Quality Time – putting distractions aside and ensuring some uninterrupted time is spent together
  • Receiving Gifts – giving thoughtful, encouraging presents
  • Acts of Service – doing things that support or make life easier (making dinner, washing dishes, collecting something to bring home, fixing something)

It’s theorized that while all five of these languages are utilized by us, we tend to focus on a couple of them; these are our dominant love languages and how love is most effectively received by us. These primary languages can also be how we most comfortably show love towards our partners. 

A photo by Becca Tapert shows a heterosexual couple laying on a bed (fully clothed) in a tight embrace. The mood is one of comfort and intimacy.
photo by Becca Tapert

It’s worth noting that we do not have to have love language alignment to maintain a healthy, rewarding relationship. Some couples may enjoy exactly the same dominant expressions of love, but it does not mean they are more suited to each other. What is key to any relationship is good, clear communication of our needs to a compassionate and responsive partner. Figuring out how we like to be loved and the ways we’re capable of showing it to others represents the most significant thing we can do for ourselves. It reveals what we’re looking for, what we’ll accept in return and what we can offer — if a potential or current partner can equally reflect this level of self-knowledge back, we’ve got a roadmap to success for love. 

When I think about my own love language, I tend to prefer giving and receiving love through physical touch and words of affirmation. I like saying kind, encouraging and motivating things, hugging and generally being tactile. My husband prefers to give and receive love through acts of service and gift-giving. Clearly, our love language is completely different, but they never go misinterpreted because we communicate to each other how best we process love. Even though we would both like love to be returned to us in the same way as we demonstrate it; there’s an acceptance that this won’t always be the case. We know our love languages are different, so it’s on us to be cognizant of that fact. While we may express love in our own unique ways, we make certain we spend some time exhibiting it in each other’s love language too.

And that’s undoubtedly the overarching theme of improving our love languages within a relationship; speaking them in our partner’s language. It doesn’t mean forgoing our own — it means including theirs. This involves practice and effort, but that’s the point. We’re all worthy of love, and the most exceptional kind is the one that comes from someone who isn’t afraid to show up and ask, “What do you need?”

A photo by RODNAE Productions of two black women wearing identical LGBTQ+ Love is Love t-shirts laugh and smile at each other as they stand on a small bridge. The mood is one of connection and joy.
photo by RONDAE Productions

As one would expect, there can be setbacks when navigating love languages. They aren’t a quick fix and they won’t mend every issue within a relationship. They can, however, provide a solid foundation to work from. Love languages can also change over time especially if something happens that requires a reset. After my husband’s many surgeries to treat his cancer (he is doing well) I became his carer. My love language towards him adapted to the situation and switched to acts of service. This was what he needed most — he required love in his language. Being able to do this for him, under those circumstances, was the greatest comfort I could give him.

So if you’re looking to improve your love language, here is a summary of what you can do:

  • Figure out what your dominant love languages are
  • Communicate them clearly
  • Spend time understanding your loved one’s dominant languages
  • Find ways to incorporate your partner’s love languages with your own
  • Accept it requires work and won’t always be perfect
  • Be flexible over time as priorities shift and/or situations change

Love languages can be expressed in many different ways. Once we appreciate how our partner speaks to our heart, it reveals just how loved we truly are.

How do you show love? What are your primary love languages?


Further Info:

Talk It Out: Communication 101 For Couples – Healthline

The 5 Love Languages Quiz For Couples | The 5 Love Languages Quiz For Singles

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If you enjoy reading Transatlantic Notes and would like to show your support for the work being done, please consider making a small donation. Thank you.

41 thoughts on “Relationship Goals: Improving Your Love Language”

  1. Such an informative post! Communication is so so so important in relationships and expressing our love languages is a key point in making it work. When my other half and I first got together 10 years ago we had terrible communication and we couldn’t jell our love languages together, thankfully after an 11 month break we found our way back to each other and vowed from then on to always communicate and be upfront about what we need. My love languages are acts of service and quality time where as my partners is physical touch and words of affirmation so we make sure we are both doing what we can for each other to make it work.

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    1. I agree 100%! If there is a lack of communication or even a lack of understanding about what is being communicated it can cause issues or tension. It’s so great to hear you took time to understand your own love languages and that it helped — thank you for reading and sharing your experiences!

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  2. Love this post – It’s so helpful as my partner and have different love languages and it’s important to know how your partner works to avoid upset.

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  3. To me to love means to care about what the other person loves and hates, from actions, to behaviour, words etc. To show my love I try not to act in a way that would disappoint him or make him feel bad. I also try to be supportive when needed.

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  4. This is a very lovely read. I love reading post about love and relationships. It helps me to write romance novels and love stories. Thank you for sharing. Will bookmark this post. It gives me loads of inspirations.

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  5. Hi Molly.

    How very interesting. I suppose it all makes sense really – we are complex creatures so there are bound to be many ways in which we can communicate our love for somebody.

    I guess the key is, whatever language you are most skilled in – make sure that you use it!

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    1. We definitely need to make sure we understand how we give and receive love most naturally. That way we can use it well and make sure we express love to our partner in a way that they understand and respond well too. Thanks so much for reading!

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  6. Very true for including the love language of your spouse. I read the book the 5 love languages when I first got married. It helped me a lot. You have given very useful tips in this post too. Thanks!

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  7. I love this post! I think my primary love language is doing acts of service but I mix them up from time to time, and it totally depends on my level of comfort towards each person.

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    1. That’s the great thing about them, they can change or fluctuate and adapt to the situation or person. Our level of comfort around someone is so important (I love that you mentioned that) as it’s vital we feel safe to do so. If we’re not comfortable it is perfectly okay to not show our love languages to someone as we deserve to feel secure. Thank you so much for reading!

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  8. Such an interesting post, Molly, I’ve never heard of love languages before but I’m happy to say that my marriage incorporates all of them – although I have to admit that carving out more quality time should probably be higher on our list! x

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    1. I hadn’t heard of them until a few years ago when I was looking at how differently my husband and I express our love for each other and how we could better communicate our needs, etc. I think all relationships incorporate all five of the love languages but many of us have dominant traits and it’s good to tune in to each other’s expressions of love whenever we can. Quality time is definitely an important one to spend time exploring (I think I need to revisit this too). Thank you so much for reading!

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  9. My relationship is currently long distance so these aren’t always the easiest things to do over FaceTime. But I’m looking forward to putting them into practice once we close the distance and rebuild our relationship once again! Thankyou for sharing- these will definitely come in use 🙂

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    1. Long distance relationships are very unique in the challenges (and rewards) they present. The great thing about love languages is that they can adapt, and even without the physicality of being together, all can still be used in some way. For the first few years of my marriage, I was in a long distance relationship with my husband so I send you and your partner lots of good wishes as I know how difficult it can sometimes be! Thank you so much for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post – this was super helpful and informative! Communication is definitely key to any relationship, and expressing our love language is too. I’m definitely going to be doing some further research to figure out what my love language is after this. Thanks for sharing x

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  11. I think this is so important, people often default to showing their love in ways they like to receive it which doesn’t always translate to the other person. Good communication is vital!

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    1. Exactly! We will often express love to others in the ways we like to receive it and is natural to us but we must incorporate how those we love want it shown to them. Communication is key in so many ways. Thank you so much for reading!

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  12. Lovely post, Molly! I’m always intrigued about love languages and mine changes every few years. At this moment, acts of service and physical touch is mine and quality time is my husbands. We’ve been together for a while and have learned to embrace each other’s love language. COmmunication is key! Thanks for sharing x

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

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  13. This has been a really insightful read! Some important points here. Thank you for sharing!

    Amber | The Unpredicted Page

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  14. The concept of love languages is not new to me, but unfortunately, I’ve started appreciating their importance only in the last couple of years. Ironically, it’s taken a large personal setback for me to understand the significance of applying them in relationships.

    Pop culture likes to take this kind of concepts and reduce them to just meme trends, but I truly think that ‘love languages’ is so much more than that – both in the context of relationships and yourself. And no matter what your and your partner’s love language, I think there is no escaping the importance of communication in improving your relationship!

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    1. It’s definitely a theory that needs more than a meme to fully appreciate its complexities. Our relationships deserve soulful communication and understanding each our partner’s love languages and incorporating them with our own is a good way to do just that. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for reading!

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  15. I’ve never really thought about my love language but now that I’ve read this post it’s something I really want to look into. Is it crazy to say that all of the above apply to me? I believe that any little thing that benefits my life or is a compliment is an act of kindness and love. Thanks for sharing! Alicia

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    1. It’s worth looking into as it really opened my eyes to how communicating in a way our loved one understands is so important. We generally use all of the five love languages (so you’re definitely not crazy) but tend to have a couple that are more dominant. It’s a real eye-opener once you start really looking at it! Thanks so much for reading!

      Like

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