Not everyone speaks the same language when it comes to love. According to The Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman, there are actually five love languages. Those five “languages” are: Words Of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts Of Service, and Physical Touch. What this means is that how we display our love to our partner and how we receive their displays of love to us might be totally different. So different, in fact, that it can create tension.
As someone who was in a relationship with a person who spoke a different love language than me, I know how difficult it can be. While he was more inclined to show his love through physical touch (all he wanted to do was cuddle!) and quality time (all he wanted to do was be inseparable!), I was more about Words Of Affirmation and Acts Of Service — and, naturally, not above receiving gifts. So there I’d be telling him how awesome and talented he was as a way to show my love and he’d be trying to pin me down to cuddle for the next week and a half to show me his love. (Does anyone need to cuddle for a whole week and a half?)
But just because you and your partner speak different love languages, doesn’t mean all bets are off when it comes to being in an awesome relationship. Here’s how to cope if there’s something being lost in translation.
1. Know That Not Every Couple Speaks The Same Love Language
Although you may be with someone who speaks the exact same love language as you, the same can’t be said for all couples. How we express and receive love is based on our past, our present, and our personalities. If you came from a family where love was expressed physically, then there’s a good chance that might be your love language with your partner. If they didn’t come from such a background, their idea of displaying love could be spending time together, even if that time is spent watching movie marathons on the couch for hours and hours.
2. Establish What Your Love Language Is
Since there’s five love languages, it’s probably a good idea if you know what your love language is. Are you more physical in nature? Do you find that you feel you're expressing your love to the highest extent when you’re telling your partner that there’s nothing they can’t do? On his site, Chapman has some quizzes to help you understand your love language better. You may be surprised about yours — or find that you're in somewhere in the middle of two.
3. Learn To Compromise
Relationships are about compromise. I know, I know; I don’t like to compromise either, but it’s just something you need to do if you want to make a relationship work. Since you can’t avoid compromise, then you need play the give and take game. What this means is that you need to give into being more physical, if that’s how your partner communicates their love, while they need to be more willing to perform acts of service, if that's your language. As Chapman wrote for Motto, “If you don’t learn to speak your partner’s language, they won’t feel loved and nurtured —and vice versa.” So, yeah, compromise is key here.
4. Communicate What You Need To Feel Loved
Unless your partner can read minds, then you need to tell them, with words, what you need from them. If you’re compromising, then you need the same from them but they can’t give you that until you communicate what you need. Those lines of communication need to be wide open if you’re going to get over your love language differences and not let them be a roadblock.
5. Know That You Don’t Have To Speak The Same Love Language To Have A Successful Relationship
There are many components to a relationship and love language is just one of them — which is promising for those who don’t speak the same love language. But while that’s great to hear, we still need to go back to the compromising factor of how to cope when you and your partner speak different love languages. You may not need to speak the same language to have a great and healthy relationship, but you do need to be willing to give a little on your end, just as much as they need to on their end.
6. Accept That Love Languages May Not Change
While we can learn to speak the same love language, it doesn’t change the fact that our love language is what it is. With that in mind, you need to be cognizant of what it takes for both you and your significant other to feel love and adoration. Yes, you can learn, communicate, compromise, and even tweak how you go about things for the sake of each other, but at the end of the day, if you and your partner speak different love languages, that’s not going to change. Realizing this sooner than later will make coping and communicating so much easier.
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